Scatter plot

29 posts
The gift of small edits and subtraction

While making the chart on fertility rates (link), I came across a problem that pops up quite often, and is  ignored by most software programs. Here is an earlier version of the chart I later discarded: Compare this to the version I published in the blog post: Aside from adding the chart title, there is one major change. I removed the empty plots from the grid. This is a visualization...

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Visualizing fertility rates around the globe

The following chart dropped on my Twitter feed. It's an ambitious chart that tries to do a lot. The underlying data set contains fertility rate data from over 200 countries over 20 years. The basic chart form is a column chart that is curled up into a ball. The column chart is given colors that map to continents. All countries are grouped into five continents. The column chart can only...

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Convincing charts showing containment measures work

The disorganized nature of U.S.'s response to the coronavirus pandemic has created a sort of natural experiment that allows data journalists to explore important scientific questions, such as the impact of containment measures on cases and hospitalizations. This New York Times article represents the best of such work. The key finding of the analysis is beautifully captured by this set of scatter plots: Each dot is a state. The cases...

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On data volume, reliability, uncertainty and confidence bands

This chart from the Economist caught my eye because of the unusual use of color-coded hexagonal tiles. The basic design of the chart is easy to grasp: It relates people's "happiness" to national wealth. The thick black line shows that the average citizen of wealthier countries tends to rate their current life situation better. For readers alert to graphical details, things can get a little confusing. The horizontal "wealth" axis...

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This chart shows why the PR agency for the UK government deserves a Covid-19 bonus

The Economist illustrated some interesting consumer research with this chart (link): The survey by Dalia Research asked people about the satisfaction with their country's response to the coronavirus crisis. The results are reduced to the "Top 2 Boxes", the proportion of people who rated their government response as "very well" or "somewhat well". This dimension is laid out along the horizontal axis. The chart is a combo dot and bubble...

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Visualizing black unemployment in the U.S.

In a prior post, I explained how the aggregate unemployment rate paints a misleading picture of the employment situation in the United States. Even though the U3 unemployment rate in 2019 has returned to the lowest level we have seen in decades, the aggregate statistic hides some concerning trends. There is an alarming rise in the proportion of people considered "not in labor force" by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...

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How the pandemic affected employment of men and women

In the last post, I looked at the overall employment situation in the U.S. Here is the trend of the "official" unemployment rate since 1990. I was talking about the missing 100 million. These are people who are neither employed nor unemployed in the eyes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They are simply unrepresented in the numbers shown in the chart above. This group is visualized in my...

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The missing 100 million: how the pandemic reveals the fallacy of not in labor force

Last Friday, the U.S. published the long-feared employment situation report. It should come as no surprise to anyone since U.S. businesses were quick to lay off employees since much of the economy was shut down to abate the spread of the coronavirus. I've been following employment statistics for a while. Chapter 6 of Numbersense (link) addresses the statistical aspects of how the unemployment rate is computed. The title of the...

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How to read this chart about coronavirus risk

In my just-published Long Read article at DataJournalism.com, I touched upon the subject of "How to Read this Chart". Most data graphics do not come with directions of use because dataviz designers follow certain conventions. We do not need to tell you, for example, that time runs left to right on the horizontal axis (substitute right to left for those living in right-to-left countries). It's when we deviate from the...

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The rule governing which variable to put on which axis, served a la mode

When making a scatter plot, the two variables should not be placed arbitrarily. There is a rule governing this: the outcome variable should be shown on the vertical axis (also called y-axis), and the explanatory variable on the horizontal (or x-) axis. This chart from the archives of the Economist has this reversed: The title of the accompanying article is "Ice Cream and IQ"... In a Trifecta Checkup (link), it's...

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