The Future of the World’s Population

Tariq Khokhar of World Bank uses the United Nation’s updated population figures and projections to create 4 charts which illustrate the future of the world’s population.

But before I dive in, how accurate are these projections? What kind of track record do UN demographers have? The most comprehensive answer I could find was Nico Keilman’s 2001 paper which Hans Rosling refers to in this video. He notes that in 1958, when the UN projected the population in 2000 to be ~6 Billion (it was then 42 years into the future) they ended up being out by less than 5%. The short answer is: these projections are pretty good.

What Death by Natural Causes Means

Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight examines the way the term “natural causes” is used by the CDC as a euphemism for a variety of causes of death.

According to the latest CDC data, 2,596,993 people died in the U.S. in 2013. The vast majority of those deaths, 92.5 percent, were of natural causes. Thankfully, the data is more detailed than that, though — there are 46 categories of natural causes of death listed, as well as 44 subcategories. In the chart below, I’ve summarized the 10 natural causes responsible for the most deaths in 2013.

Update to Lives of the Working Poor

David Lapp of Family Studies updates Lance’s story and explores how “shareholder capitalism” plays a strong role in the lives of the working poor: Man Cannot Live By Values Alone.

Reducing Prison Population

Erik Eckholm of the Upshot examines a new interactive “prison population forecaster” released by the Urban Institute.

Although the number of people held in state and federal prisons appears to have leveled off at about 1.6 million — 2.2 million if those in local jails are counted — some scholars and activists are calling for far more ambitious change. They ask: Why not reduce the prison population by a quarter or even by half? (That would still leave it far higher than it was a few decades back, when crime was more rampant than today.)

A new interactive “prison population forecaster,” posted online Tuesday by the Urban Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington, aims to help fill that void and yields some sobering conclusions.

Mixed Race Identity Rises in the South

William Frey, writing for the Brookings Institute, examines the increase in persons identifying as “White and Black” in the southern states.

Yet, the South is attracting blacks in large numbers, including multiracial blacks, from all parts of the country. Thus, it is significant that when states are ranked by the growth rates in their “white and black” multiracial populations in the first decade of the 2000s, it is these Southern states that lead all others.

Teens, Technology and Friendships

The Pew Research Center released a new report on the ways teenagers make and maintain friendships in the digital age.

For American teens, making friends isn’t just confined to the school yard, playing field or neighborhood – many are making new friends online. Fully 57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20% of all teens have met an online friend in person.

See also: 6 takeaways about teen friendships in the digital age and 5 facts about America’s students.

Comparing Age at Marriage and Divorce Risk in the U.S. and Europe

Jaap Dronkers writes a follow-up to Nicholas Wolfinger’s report, Want to Avoid Divorce? Wait to Get Married, But Not Too Long, which compares age at marriage and the risk of divorce in the United States and Europe.

Family Instability and Child Outcomes

Anna Sutherland, writing for the Family Studies blog, examines a recent article in the American Sociological Review by Dohoon Lee and Sara McLanahan which analyzes longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.

Family instability is bad for kids. This generalization doesn’t apply to every case—children stand to benefit when their mother kicks out an abusive live-in boyfriend, for example—but as a description of how the phenomenon plays out on average, it is not subject to much dispute.

Researchers are still digging into the specifics behind the generalization, however. By what measures and to what extent does family instability hurt kids? Do the number and kinds of family transitions matter, and how so? Are there gender and racial/ethnic differences in how children are affected? How does the impact of family instability compare with that of other childhood disadvantages, such as poverty?

Statistical Atlas of the United States

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data set out to recreate the original 56 page Statistical Atlas of the United States, first published in 1874 using 1870 Census data. Yau’s version uses current, publicly available government data.

Now that the first 56 maps are complete, Yau has decided to continue the project and produce a more compete Statistical Atlas with more maps and chart. He plans to update these weekly.

Rules for Charts

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data discusses the handful of rules for charts and data visualization which should never be broken. These include baselines, pie slices, and encodings.