I’ve been exploring Thomas Grund‘s excellent nwcommands package for Stata with the 50 years of aid network data collected from the OECD DAC. It appears to have many functionalities that appeal to the existing Stata user who wants to do SNA and also seems to incorporate some good tools to deal with longitudinal networks. One interesting function is its nwmovie command which will animate sociogram visualizations of networks over time. I tested this with an excerpt from my longitudinal aid network data and arrived at the GIF below as a result.
Because it seems to only function with networks of identical size, I limited the sample to the period from 2002-2010, where each year in of my network data has 216 nodes including bilateral donors, major multilateral donors, and recipients. I labelled each node and tried to differentiate nodes based on degree centrality (node size), and donor/recipient status (colour/symbol). I am pretty sure the final result is only showing the degree centrality for 2010, and although the colour reflects the mode status of my 2-mode network, the symbol does not. I will need to play with the syntax further to refine future versions.
As an analytic tool, the network density combined with the size/speed of the image makes it tricky to examine the evolving network in detail, but it is interesting to see countries/multilateral donor agencies move in and out of the ‘isolates’ in the bottom right hand corner. The creation of the Global Fund and GAVI are two notable movements you can see here, as well as the integration of several ‘new’ bilateral donors like Thailand. Overall, an interesting tool. It is not going to show up on the pages of a printed journal article anytime soon, but very interesting to see the potential for visualizing the global aid network in this way. I look forward to exploring this tool and the rest of the nwcommands package over the course of the next few months.
Update: I have posted another test of this script looking at Canada’s evolving aid ego-network.
Update 2: I have posted an updated version of the global network that encompasses 1960-2010.