Dollar Street in Geography

Dollar Street is a project of Gapminder.


About Dollar Street


How to use Dollar Street


Related documentation

Teaching Resources

About Dollar Street

Imagine the world as a street ordered by income. Everyone lives somewhere on the street. The poorest live to the left and the richest to the right. Everybody else lives somewhere in between. You are welcome to visit all homes on Dollar Street!


Dollar Street was invented by Anna Rosling Rönnlund at Gapminder.  For 15 years she spent her workdays making global public data easier to understand and use. Over time her frustration grew: carefully selecting data to present it in colorful and moving charts made overall global trends and patterns easier to understand. But it did not make everyday life on different income levels understandable. Especially not in places far from home. “People in other cultures are often portrayed as scary or exotic.” Anna explains: “This has to change. We want to show how people really live. It seemed natural to use photos as data so people can see for themselves what life looks like on different income levels. Dollar Street lets you visit many, many homes all over the world. Without travelling.”


A team of photographers have documented over 200 homes in almost 50 countries so far, and the list is growing. In each home the photographer spends a day taking photos of up to 135 objects, like the family’s toothbrushes or favorite pair of shoes. All photos are then tagged (household function, family name and income).

Dollar Street is developed by Gapminder. Gapminder is an independent Swedish foundation with no political, religious or economic affiliations. We fight devastating misconceptions about global development with a fact-based worldview everyone can understand. We produce free teaching-resources based on reliable statistics.Dollar_Street 2.png

How to use Dollar Street

The TOPICS which are included in Dollar Street relate to aspects of daily life, which vary according to the income levels of the people who live on the street.

The 200+ families can be viewed, and you can then visit their home, or compare them with others in the same country (or different countries).

The families have reported their monthly incomes, and it the impact of this on their daily lives which can be explored using the website.

Some of the topics can be seen as proxies for data related to particular aspects of life.

Use the dropdown box from the families label to access RELATED, POPULAR or ALL topics.

The site can be viewed via a MAP showing the families too, spread around the world.

FAMILIES and their HOMES can also be viewed independently or compared.

Dollar Street has produced a 7 step tutorial document already.

From the Q&A document:

Can you compare household incomes and consumption between countries?

Yes. We chose to use a methodology that allows you to compare household incomes between countries. That’s because the values we assigned to households have been adjusted purchasing power parity (PPP). But please, use the values with caution - comparing income between countries is not easy - so there is an inevitable margin of error. Don’t let that dissuade you from getting stuck in and making comparisons; misconceptions about global living standards is a far bigger problem.

One way of assessing the changing nature of the impact of income on aspects of life is to use a subset of families.

Across the top of the screen you will see images representing the houses on Dollar Street.

Drag the end sliders to create a narrow ‘range’ of houses, drag this to a position from extreme left to right and ‘drop’ it and images on your related topic will appear.

We explored a topic like toilets, for example, and dropping the range showed the change from a whole in the ground/defecation en plein air, to some sort of structure, initially separate from the main dwelling, but eventually internal, and with actual porcelain toilet, and finally in a tiled interior room with reliable water supply.


Dollar Street: 

Facebook page: 

Twitter feed: 

Ted Talk by Anna Rosling Ronnlund at a TedX event in 2015: 

Dollar Street is a visual framework for understanding different standards of living within and between countries. By combining documentary photos and income statistics, Dollar Street shows a fact-based worldview that cannot be found anywhere else.

Most of us don’t travel the whole world. Our ideas about people in other places and cultures are built up from images that we see in news, movies, natural documentaries and tourist ads. But those images often portray the unusual and extraordinary; they show dramatic events, romantic nature and unusual cultural traditions. People in other places appear to be very different from ourselves. This is unfortunate, as the basic humans needs are identical across all cultures. You need a home and you need to eat, sleep, wash, play and pee. On Dollar Street it’s not the extraordinary, but the common that fascinates. When sorting homes by income, people across the world live in surprisingly similar ways.

Born and raised in Sweden, Anna is a visionary whose main goal in life is finding systematic sense in vast amounts of data. As tons of data on individual countries’ health and economics status is collected yearly, Anna’s focus is making this global public data easier to understand, and use. She co-founded Gapminder, an organisation with a mission to “fight devastating ignorance with a fact-based worldview everyone can understand”. Gapminder´s software Trendalyzer was sold over to Google, where Anna later worked to apply her expertise as a User Experience Designer. Anna is now back at Gapminder, making data easily interpretable. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences with major in Sociology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography.


What is life like for the average family? 

Global stratification: on CityLab 

Related documentation

How can I use Dollar Street?

Dollar Street has no political or financial agenda. Licensed by Creative Commons license 4.0, you are free to reuse, edit and share the images.

Dollar Street Q&A: Also a Google Drive document: 

Tutorial document (also on Google Drive)

At the moment Dollar Street photos can be sorted by income and region. But what if you see two homes in different income levels that you’d like to compare? They are working on a feature where you’ll be able to pick out and arrange photographs just how you like.

Teaching resources

A few ideas are in this document above, and via various other sources.

  1. Why not go through the stages of getting a house uploaded, based on the average of your class, or ask your class to volunteer to take a picture of one of the topics for their own house ‘anonymously’ and then send it to you to construct a mocked-up dollar street house. Discuss the issues with ensuring that the houses are accurately portrayed.
  2. Watch the Ted Talk, and discuss the way that images can be used to portray inequality accurately, and how they might reinforce stereotypes if not used appropriately: - you could use Mary Biddulph’s article in TG, which discusses Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her Ted Talk here: on ‘the danger of a single story’, as a way of framing the discussion

( for Mary’s editorial)

  1. Consider where the items in these homes are from - look for the similar brands and products to those found in the UK - the work of Follow the Things may be appropriate to reference here: - can you see familiar products, or brands e.g. the electrical goods, book titles etc.
  2. Prepare some questions that you would like to ask some of the families about their belongings or daily lives - what mysteries are revealed by the images - do they prompt as many questions as they ‘answer’?
  3. Produce PPT with examples from 3 different income levels of areas of daily life, and add in some commentary to explain the changes (a task I set my Year 7 and 8s) It is worth reminding students that there are billionaires in India, and many other countries - this is about the family income rather than the national economy although that may determine, for example the reliability of electricity infrastructure (important if you have a fridge)
  4. Which families do you think are eating food that they grew themselves rather than buying processed food? Which diet is healthier in the long run?

Consider what the resource tells you about some key geographical ideas of Interdependence and Globalisation

The general Gapminder page for teachers:

A mention from Global Dimension: 

Interesting thoughts here: 

See new Factfulness SoW which is taking shape here:

At what level do certain items appear in people’s homes?

What are the levels required for mobile phones compared to washing machines?

Document created by Alan Parkinson

January 2017


Alan Parkinson


Last updated: October 2018