Mapping Where ‘Americans’ Live

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

Back during the Republican primaries, The Upshot published an interesting short post called the Geography of Trumpism. The reporters back then analyzed hundreds of demographic variables, by county, in an effort to determine which ones might be predictive of electoral support for the eventual GOP nominee.

Think: What’s the rate of mobile home ownership? Or what percentage of people in a particular place have college degrees? They found a key variable to explore:

When the Census Bureau asks Americans about their ancestors, some respondents don’t give a standard answer like “English” or “German.” Instead, they simply answer “American.”

The places with high concentrations of these self-described Americans turn out to be the places Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has performed the strongest.

I’ve plotted the percentage of “American” ancestry, by county, on a national map. Keep in mind the data come from a five-year survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, so the accuracy in large counties is relatively safe.

But in smaller counties — say, those with fewer than 10,000 residents — the margins of error can be quite high. The results are even more problematic in the tiniest of counties. Still, this is the best public data we have, and it does produce some interesting geographic trends:

How Far Above (Or Below) .500 Did Each MLB Team Finish This Season?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Sports

I live in South Korea, where it isn’t always easy to watch American baseball (unless you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Texas Rangers). So I’m catching up with data.

New Poverty Data Show Improving Economic Conditions in States

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance

Economic conditions continue to improve in America’s states, with many showing significant declines in their poverty rates, according to new survey data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 14.7 percent of the American population had incomes last year that were below their respective poverty levels, which vary depending on household size — a significant decline from 2014.

Charting American Birthdays: Yours Probably Isn’t That Special

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

Last week I published a new heatmap exploring the popularity of American birthdays. The chart, which uses darker shades to represent higher average birth counts on specific days, can give the impression that some birthdays are much more common than others.

In reality, outside of some special occasions, namely major holidays, there isn’t a huge amount of diversity in the data set, which has two decades of births aggregated by day. Most birthdays, including my own, are fairly average — especially in the first six months of the year. For example:

How Common is Your Birthday? This Visualization Might Surprise You

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, News

It’s baby season in America, with September the busiest month for births on average in the last two decades. So it seemed like the right time to remix this blog’s most-popular post: How Common is Your Birthday?

That old heatmap, which highlighted specific dates for popularity, has been viewed more than 500,000 times here and published across the web. But it was flawed, namely that it used ordinal data (birthday ranks by date) rather than continuous data (actual births counts by date). This graphic finally addresses that problem:

Seoul’s Steamy Summer (Updated)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been away from Seoul for much of the summer, but now that I’m back it’s impossible not to hear all the complaining — among expats and locals alike — about the heat.

They have a point, at least in terms of their expectations. This summer has indeed been hotter than usual, especially this month, when the daily low temperature on one recent day actually exceeded the average high. (I updated the chart on Aug. 24).

Historically, the air begins cooling slightly in August. Not so this year…

Are People in Colder Countries Taller? (Continued…)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

Earlier this week I posted two scatterplots examining the relationship between a country’s average temperature and its male residents’ average height. The data show some correlation, but there probably are several of other factors affecting height as well.

The earlier plots shaded the country dots by income and region, allowing more context about the groupings of countries (hint: Europe is colder and taller).

This next version, however, proportionally sizes the dots by population, adding another layer of context (or perhaps unnecessary complexity).

Are People in Colder Countries Taller?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

I got married in Amsterdam. One thing I remember most about my time in The Netherlands is the obvious height of the locals. Both men and women, generally, are quite tall.

A new study supports my anecdotal observation. Dutch men are the tallest people in the world (women there are second), followed closely by some of their European neighbors. People in Southeast Asian and African countries are, on the other hand, shorter.

I’ve always wondered why the Dutch are so tall. Is it their dairy-rich diet, perhaps? Or could there be a correlation between the lower average temperatures in Northern Europe and its apparent height advantage? Are people taller in colder countries?

The answer is … sort of.

Charting Taiwan’s Sea of Scooters

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Taiwan

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

I’m in Taiwan this month to study Mandarin. During breaks, I’ll be posting occasionally about the island nation’s demographics, politics and (sticky) weather.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the streets of Taiwan — other than the excellent food, sweet people and formidable humidity, of course — is the constant buzz of scooters. They are everywhere — and loud and perhaps a little unsafe.

That’s true even in Taipei, the capitol region, which has a world-class subway system and yet about 1 million motorcycles on the roads (as opposed to roughly 800,000 cars and trucks).

It turns out there’s a proportionally startling number of motorcycles, as the government classifies them, on the roads across this country: More than 13 million in nation of just 23 million.

Most homes have them, for example:

And there are nearly twice as many motorcycles on the roads than cars and trucks, according to the government:

Though the rate of motorcycles per 1,000 population is declining: