Friday, May 12, 2006

Who Searches for What?

Do the Chinese want democracy and freedom? There is an argument that says that while they were fired up for democracy during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, after they were violently crushed they turned their attention to making money. Some research also supports the idea that people don't agitate for democracy until they have achieved reasonable prosperity, perhaps $6000 in per capita GDP. Anecdotally, one can think of Taiwan, S. Korea and Chile as examples of countries where the creation of a large middle class came before public protests that dictators step down. (The Philippines, on the other hand, was much poorer when Ferdinand Marcos was forced out.)

Google has a new site that allows exploration of this question, and many others, at It allows you to type in a search term, and find out which countries, or U.S. cities, or languages generate the most searches. The measures are relative, in that they measure the percentage of all searches that use that term. If I understand the methodology in the FAQ correctly, if the absolute number of searches from the region or in the language is small it won’t show up. With those caveats in mind, here are some interesting examples for some of the things that interest me:


1. South Africa
2. Philippines
3. U.S.
4. Australia
5. Canada
6. India
7. New Zealand
8. U.K.
9. Sweden
10. Netherlands

Discouraging, except that by languages it's a little different:

1. English
2. Chinese
3. Dutch
4. Italian
5. German
6. Spanish
7. Portuguese
8. French

Since these are relative, this means that Chinese-language searches use “democracy” at the second-highest rate among all. (However, when one tries “Saudi Arabia” under “Region,” one gets “Your terms - democracy - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.” Distressingly, the same is true for Iraq.)

Here is “economic freedom”:

1. U.S.
2. Canada
3. India
4. Australia
5. Poland
6. Germany
7. U.K.
8. France


1. Philippines
2. South Africa
3. Morocco
4. Malaysia
5. India
6. Indonesia
7. Singapore
8. Hong Kong
9. Australia
10. Ireland

Where are people most eager to leave? Here are the results for “emigration":

1. Algeria
2. Morocco
3. United Arab Emirates
4. South Africa
5. Bulgaria
6. Romania
7. Ireland
8. U.K.
9. India
10. New Zealand

The U.S. employment visa is the H1B. Here are the results for that:

1. India
2. Singapore
3. Philippines
4. U.S.
5. Canada
6. U.K.
7. Australia
8. France
9. Germany
10. China

I find it interesting that China is so low. Who is most interested per capita in “globalization"?

1. Jamaica
2. Philippines
3. Pakistan
4. Malaysia
5. India
6. South Africa
7. Hong Kong
8. United Arab Emirates
9. Singapore
10. Egypt

Not all results are flattering for the top-ranking countries. Here, for example, are the results for“kinky sex”:

1. Korea
2. Norway
3. U.S.
4. Canada
5. Belgium
6. New Zealand
7. Australia
8. Sweden
9. Denmark
10. Netherlands

I leave other searches for the interested reader.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A search for "Ayn Rand" puts India on top.

Searches for terms of liberal interest (i.e. protest, gay, lesbian, green party, democrat, Iraq war, npr) bring Pleasanton, CA consistently into the top 10.

Searches for conservative terms of interest (i.e. rush limbaugh, gop, ccw, conceal carry, nra, sean hannity, laura ingraham) put Jacksonville on top, but oddly Dublin, Ireland, on most lists.

12:29 AM  

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