WPP 2017 Explorer

Data Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division: World Population Prospects. Probabilistic projections based on Raftery et al. (2012, PNAS)

© Hana Ševčíková, CSSS, University of Washington; project website

Help with WPP Explorer


WPP Explorer allows you to interactively explore data from the World Population Prospects, contained in the R package wpp2017. It is based on the shiny R package.


The underlying datasets are based on estimates and projections of the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Probabilistic projections were produced using the methods of Raftery et al. (2012, 2014), see our project website.


There is a time and indicator selection on the left, and various forms of visualization on the right. The time slider in the left pane defines the year or time period for which data are shown. Note that for vital rate indicators, such as fertility, mortality, migration and sex ratio at birth, the time shown on the slider is the end year of the time period of the data shown in the right pane.

The uncertainty selection is only used for indicators and years for which the corresponding lower and upper bounds are available, and for the appropriate visualization types. These are country plots that appear after clicking on the map, table in the “Sortable Data” tab, and “Trends” and “Pyramids”. In wpp2015, the 80 and 95% intervals are available for the fertility, life expectancy and total population indicators; The +-1/2child intervals are available for the fertility and population indicators.

The "Trends & Pyramids" tab can be used to compare indicators by countries. Selection of multiple countries is supported. The countries are sorted alphabetically. Various aggregated regions can be found at the end of the list. Thus countries can be compared to regional agregates in the same graph.

The ggplot-based graphs in the Trends and Pyramids sub-tabs are interactive. One can see the data values by mouse hovering or single clicks. One can zoom in by selecting a region of the graph. Zooming out is done by a double click.

Values in the "Trends" plots as well as in the table below correspond to the indicator selected on the left. The values in the "Age Profiles" and "Pyramids" graphs correspond to the sex- and age-specific version of the selected indicator. For example, if "Total Population" is selected in the left panel, the "Age Profiles" and "Pyramids" graphs show population by sex and age, while the table below shows values of the total population.

The Rosling Chart is based on Hans Rosling's gapminder. After opening the tab, the x and y axes are preloaded with the first three indicators from the left panel. You can add indicators to the axes by selecting it on the left and clicking the "Add Indicator" button in the right panel. Age-specific indicators can also be selected and added to the chart. The chart is created via the R package googleVis which for the rendering requires an Internet connection and a Flash player. See the googleVis documentation for more details.


The wppExplorer can be either viewed online or installed from CRAN as a standalone R package. The standalone version can be used for example to access values that are underlying the various visualizations.


Hana Ševčíková, Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, University of Washington.


The idea and code of the basic layout was taken from one of Joe Cheng's examples presented at the useR Meetup in Seattle 2013. This is based on work done in collaboration with the United Nations Population Division, and we would like to thank all their staff, including Patrick Gerland for his thorough testing and useful comments and suggestions, and John Wilmoth for his support of the project.


P. Gerland, A. E. Raftery, H. Ševčíková, N. Li, D. Gu, T. Spoorenberg, L. Alkema, B. K. Fosdick, J. L. Chunn, N. Lalic, G. Bay, T. Buettner, G. K. Heilig, J. Wilmoth (2014). World Population Stabilization Unlikely This Century. Science 346:234-237.

A. E. Raftery, N. Li, H. Ševčíková , P. Gerland, G. K. Heilig (2012). Bayesian probabilistic population projections for all countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:13915-13921.

[Package wppExplorer version 2.1-1, 08/18/2017]