Data Driven Digest for July 24

Marriage is on the minds of data scientists and data journalists this summer. That’s our suspicion, based on the many blog posts, articles, and data visualizations that have come onto the radar at the Data Driven Digest. We’ve picked three favorite examples that – pardon the pun – wed  serious data science with attractive, clear data visualization. Do any these ring a bell with you?

upshot chart

State of the Union:  “So, where are you from?” It’s not just a pick-up line; the answer may well help you determine whether or not a person is marriage material. At least you might deduce that from the great interactive map (screenshot above; click through to explore) published by David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy on the New York Times Upshot. Mouse over any U.S. county and see whether its residents are more or less likely to be married by age 26 than the national average. Leonhardt and Quealy’s thoughtful piece also examines and visualizes marriage rates according to political and economic factors.


Ups and Downs: We all know, anecdotally, that marriage rates in the United States are declining and that about half of marriages end in divorce. Randy Olson has gone beyond the anecdotes to get actual data, and has written a thorough blog post on his findings.  The charts accompanying his post (including the one above) are a model of clarity.  Olson scraped data from years of old reports generated by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and has generously posted the resulting cleaned-up dataset for everyone to explore.


Working It: On NPR’s Planet Money blog, Quoctrung Bui published a post about marriage and work – more specifically, the employment status of spouses in heterosexual marriages. The primary chart (above) shows the rise – and slight fall – of two-income households from 1968 to 2013, but be sure to click through to read the entire, illuminating post. One thing the chart exposes is the slow but steady growth of married households in which only the wife works; that’s the light blue section at the top of the chart. Bui’s chart is quick and easy to read, and earns bonus points for tweaking the traditional pink=female, blue=male color scheme. (Coincidentally, the pink/blue topic was recently explored in detail by Andy Kirk.)


Party On (bonus item): It’s unrelated to marriage, but here’s a holiday that readers of the Data Driven Digest can celebrate: World Statistics Day, October 20, 2015. To mark the holiday, Unite Ideas – an open data project of the United Nations – has launched a new challenge, called #WSD2015 Data Visualization Challenge. (Yes, that’s the name, complete with the hashtag.)

The UN provides Millennium Development Goals (MDG) data, which tracks education, sustainability, poverty, and other stats from around the globe.  Entrants are challenged to “visualize MDG data to answer a question relevant for development policy,” and are encouraged to blend in other datasets.  It’s kind of wonky, but the challenge provides an opportunity to use data science and visualization skills for good. (You can’t argue with the tagline, “Better data. Better lives.”) Deadline for entries is September 20, 2015.

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