Data insight

Less urbanized means less vaccinated

Countries with low urban population shares tend to be more poorly vaccinated
Countries with low urbanization rates are more likely to be poorly vaccinated. The visualization above shows for all countries currently reporting vaccination data the relationship between the urban population share and the share of the total population that is fully vaccinated. The chart controls for population size (the area of the bubbles) and groups countries by World Bank income classification (color).
 
A strong relation seems to be apparent between urbanization and vaccination (confidence interval shown at 95%). We know that urbanization is a reflection of development. As countries become more prosperous and move up the country income ladder, they tend to transform structurally. One of these structural transformations is for the urban population share to rise. We can see this pattern clearly, with urbanization rates generally rising as the color code in the chart shifts from low to high income. 
 
But there is more to this. Low vaccination rates are not only associated with low levels of urbanization simply because countries are poorer. One would also expect that having share of the population living in rural areas complicates vaccination progress, keeping all else equal. 
 
Looking more deeply into the relation between urbanization and vaccination, let’s examine next what happens once we control for total population size. That’s what the next chart is about.
Whereas in the first chart we compared countries on an equal basis, this second chart shows the relationship between urbanization and vaccination by weighting the smoothing function by the total population size. In plain language, India and Ireland no longer carry the same weight when calculating the trajectory of the solid line. Countries with smaller populations are penalized in favor of countries with larger populations.
 
The weighted estimates between urbanization and vaccination still exhibit a positive relationship but it is no longer monotonously positive. This is largely due to effect of China and India. These are both very large countries, who have despite their large populations managed to outperform their per capita income peers on measures of vaccination).  It should be noted here that China and India are themselves major producers of vaccines, which tends to contribute to vaccination performance.