Charting Views On Gun Control

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows support among Americans for stricter gun control laws:

The massacre of children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., appears to be profoundly swaying Americans’ views on guns, galvanizing the broadest support for stricter gun laws in about a decade, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

This chart shows the trend:

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 7.52.30 AM

See the full graphic to see the interesting regional differences in Americans’ attitudes toward gun control.

Charting Unmarried Households And The Effect On Kids’ Future Income

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Economy & Finance

The New York Times has a fascinating story today about links between marriage and children and the growing class divide in America. The story focuses on two families — one led by a married couple, Chris and Kevin Faulkner; the other by a struggling single mom, Jessica Schairer:

The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

The story is accompanied by two charts illustrating the trend. The first shows how the rate of women having children outside of marriage has increased among all racial groups:

This chart shows that children who don’t live with both parents are less likely to move up to higher income groups as adults:

How Common Is Your Birthday?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

UPDATE: I’ve written a clarification about this post here. Please read it

A friend posted an interesting data table on my Facebook wall yesterday, which was my birthday. The data listed each day of the year with a ranking for how many babies were born in the United States on each date from 1973 to 1999. Some interesting trends are evident in the data. Apparently, people like to make babies around the winter holiday season because a large proportion of babies are born in September (ours is due Sept. 24, btw).

Sept. 16 was most common. Feb. 29* was least common. This heatmap is an effort to visualize the trends, with darker shades representing more births:

Data source:, Amitabh Chandra, Harvard University

Follow Matt @Stiles on Twitter.

* A previous version of this post incorrectly listed Jan. 1 as the least common birth day. 

Charting Post Offices

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The U.S. Postal Service is still struggling to compete in an era of declining paper mail, and as private industry and Congress have resisted its efforts to reform, according to this story in today’s The New York Times.

The agency’s troubles, which could result in the closing of thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail processing centers as early as next month, have many sources. Some are the inevitable result of technological changes, and others are the result of missteps by the Postal Service.

But top Postal Service officials and outside experts say that another, underappreciated factor has been an insistence by Congress that the service not compete directly with private companies, even as companies like FedEx and U.P.S. have encroached on the Postal Service’s turf.

This chart shows the historic growth, and recent decline, in the number of post offices:

See larger version | Data source: USPS

NY Times Examines Injuries To Jockeys, Horses At Race Tracks

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Sports

The New York Times has posted a sad and troubling story about the horse racing industry:

[A]n investigation by The New York Times has found that industry practices continue to put animal and rider at risk. A computer analysis of data from more than 150,000 races, along with injury reports, drug test results and interviews, shows an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.

The story has a chart and map visualizing the rate of incidents at each track, showing how it varies by state:

2008 Iowa Caucus Results

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

These maps, created by The New York Times four years ago to visualize the Republican results, might be interesting for reference as the returns come in tonight.

Mitt Romney, who lost to Mike Huckabee in 2008, carried the eastern and western portions of the state. Will he tonight? Huckabee carried the middle of the state, including Des Moines. Who will take them tonight? Paul won just one county. Will he improve on that total?

This map displays the raw vote total by county. Larger bubbles represent higher margins of victory. Huckabee won Polk County, which contains Des Moines, by 2,700 votes — one quarter of his victory margin. Who will win it tonight?

View the interactive maps (which also include the Democratic caucuses).

Charting Obama’s Path

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

While in Europe I missed this excellent interactive graphic by Alicia Parlapiano and Amanda Cox of The New York Times. It plots 2008 presidential election results by state with adult residents’ higher education rates: 

Some Democrats believe Ohio may no longer be crucial to a 2012 election victory. Instead, states like Colorado and Virginia, with more highly educated voters, may be the Democrats’ must-win states.

I found the graphic, btw, while reading a post by Matthew Ericson — who works with Parlapiano and Cox — in which he argues that maps aren’t always the most effective method for displaying geographic information.

Obama’s Budget

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I’m a big fan of tree maps, especially when they don’t require browser plug-ins. This chart on visualizes President Obama’s budget plan by breaking it into categories. It appears the developers relied on CSS, rather than Adobe Flash, to build the graphic this time. So it works on iOS devices. Very nice:

Interactive version | Related story