Author Archive for ljridley

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Big Data in 1848

In 1848, newspaper magnate and Representative Horace Greeley used open records to compare the mileage reimbursements of his fellow representatives to the postal routes (which should have been the shortest routes between districts and the U.S. capital). He found several, including Abraham Lincoln, overcharged significantly.

See Scott Klein’s story at ProPublica.

H/T Wonkblog

Measuring College Readiness

Mikhail Zinshteyn of FiveThirtyEight examines measures of college readiness and the various ways they fail:

Before we can implement policies designed to shepherd more of this country’s residents toward a college degree, we must actually know what makes a student college-ready. But what if our definitions of college readiness are incomplete, or worse, painting an unreasonably dour picture of how prepared U.S. students are for the rigors of college?

“Everyone has their own definition of college readiness, which makes it a little tricky,” said Jack Buckley, the head of research at the College Board, who previously led the Department of Education’s research arm.

So tricky, in fact, that there’s sharp disagreement over whether test scores or high school grades are better predictors of college readiness.

Consumer Spending By Age Group in 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released an interactive chart showing Percent distribution of expenditures for all consumer units, by age, 2013, annual averages.

H/T Data Detectives

Prisons Without Bars

Mark A.R. Kleinman, Angela Hawken and Ross Halperin propose a new solution to high incarceration rates, difficult re-entry into society and high recidivism rates.

For the transition from prison to life outside to be successful, it needs to be gradual. If someone needed to be locked up yesterday, he shouldn’t be completely at liberty today. And he shouldn’t be asked to go from utter dependency to total self-sufficiency in one flying leap. He needs both more control and more support. Neither alone is likely to do the job.

H/T Wonkblog

Comparing Generations

The Pew Research Center published an interactive chart comparing different generations’s experiences in 2014 and “when they were young (18-33)”.

Visualizing U.S. Abortion Policies

Your Body, (Not) Your Choice is a collaboration between Katie Kowalsky, Dylan Moriarty, and Robin Tolochko for the Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization course at UW-Madison.

Due to complex laws, political jargon, and emotional fervor, abortion policy is a contentious topic. There is a wealth of information and misinformation. The combination of vague terminology and lack of uniformity among state laws makes it difficult to interpret the true national status of abortion rights.

The map shows various abortion policies, such as mandated counseling, waiting periods and mandatory ultrasounds by state and over time.

H/T Flowing Data

No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the No Ceilings initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation published an interactive website marking the 20th anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

In 1995, at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, leaders from governments and civil society around the world came together and committed to ensuring that women and girls have the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of that moment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the No Ceilings initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation have joined forces to gather data and analyze the gains made for women and girls over the last two decades, as well as the gaps that remain.

This site and The Full Participation Report are the result—home to 850,000 data points, spanning more than 20 years, from over 190 countries. Through data visualizations and stories, we aim to present the gains and gaps in understandable, sharable ways—including by making the data open and easily available.

The full report and data are also available.

ACS Median Earnings by Detailed Occupation

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2013 Earnings by Sex and Detailed Occupation tables from the American Community Survey. Other tables include Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin by Occupation: 2012 and Median Earnings of College Graduates by Field of Bachelor’s Degree and Occupation: 2012.

All table packages are here.

H/T Data Detectives

Foreign-Born Share of U.S. Population Expected to Reach Historic High by 2060

The Pew Research Center FactTank examines the new Census Bureau population projections and finds “the nation’s foreign-born population is projected to reach 78 million by 2060, making up 18.8% of the total U.S. population…with the bureau projecting that the previous record high of 14.8% in 1890 will be passed as soon as 2025.”

Pew Research Center article
2014 National Population Projections: Summary Tables

Big Government and Big Data

Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight examines the legal, bureaucratic and practical impediments the U.S. government faces in collecting and disseminating data about U.S. citizens.

When the government wants to know how many people are unemployed, it calls people and asks them whether they’re working. When it wants to know how quickly prices are rising, it sends researchers to stores to check price tags. And when it wants to know how much consumers are spending, it mails forms to thousands of retailers asking about their sales.

“Big data” may have revolutionized industries from advertising to transportation, but many of our most vital economic statistics are still based on methods that are decidedly, well, small.

Read the full article