5 Mar 2017, 9:50pm
Data visualizations Laws and policies
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Comments Off on What drives income inequality?

What drives income inequality?

If we agree that too much wealth in the hands of too few stymies the economy, and even democracy, what do we do?

With the middle class losing ground despite healthy corporate profits, politicians and pundits gladly harp on tax rates, migrant populations and other soft targets to prescribe solutions for growing income disparities.

I decided to see what the data says.

Using World Bank datasets, I analyzed more than a dozen factors to see how they might relate to income distribution, defined here as share of income held by a country’s top 10 percent of earners.

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30 May 2016, 2:47pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Where teens live makes a difference in how well they know their neighbors, shows an analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

The data comes from a school-based survey of 6,504 youth in grades 7-12 in the U.S.

Nearly 4,700 adolescents living in either rural, suburban, urban or several other types of neighborhoods responded to: “You know most of the people in your neighborhood.”

Results show 83 percent of rural teens said yes, while 69 percent of suburban teens and 70 percent of urban teens said they do.

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Social capital in urban, suburban and rural settings

Research shows adults and communities benefit from social connections. Less is known about teenagers, and whether neighborhood features foster such social capital.

Studies tell us that where teens live can make a difference in their educational success, risky behaviors and social interactions. Also, youth spend a lot of time outside at a formative time in their development.

So, do urban, suburban and rural settings play a role in building social capital?

In a national survey of 6,504 adolescents, respondents were asked if they knew most of their neighbors. Turns out, suburban teens were most likely to say they did not.

question_1

However, not all social familiarity is the same. Gangs too have high social capital.

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24 Jan 2015, 9:30pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Diverse neighborhoods really do make a difference

Diverse neighborhoods really do make a difference

Odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities

Image of upward mobility data visualization by New York Times

Community planners have long touted the benefits of diverse neighborhoods. And they employed lots of anecdotes along with targeted studies to spread their enthusiasm.

Now a study, released in 2013 and updated last year, pulls together millions of records to give researchers powerful new insights on what drives a person’s chances of rising above the station of their birth.

For the first time, there’s enough data to compare upward income mobility across metropolitan areas, according to the New York Times. This allows consideration of local factors in a deep way that previous studies could not do — like where people live.

The story says upward mobility tends to be higher:

  • When poor families are more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods
  • When there are more two-parent households
  • With better elementary and high schools
  • When there’s more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups

Also, the story says, while regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates, researchers’ analysis suggests this was not primarily because of race. For instance, both white and black residents of Atlanta had low upward mobility.

Be sure to check out the online story, if anything to probe the data visualizations.

15 Mar 2014, 9:43pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations Travel
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Comments Off on Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

Where to find alternative fuel stations in Texas

If you’re going to invest in an alternative-fuel vehicle, you might want to check where you can fill up. The city you’re in makes a difference.

For those relying on biodiesel, you’re good to go in Austin and not so bad in San Antonio, recent data from DriveBiodiesel.net shows.

Dallas has a broad mix of E85 and natural gas pumps, according to E85Locator.net and CNGLocator.net. Houston has a decent spread of E85 stations.

West Texas? One station, in Midland. Natural gas.

One thing’s for sure, if you want to take a road trip in an alternative-fuel vehicle, plan well. Some places will leave you with fumes.

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11 Nov 2013, 10:02pm
Data visualizations Gas taxes Laws and policies Roads Transit
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Comments Off on Texas drivers help pay tab for roads in other states

Texas drivers help pay tab for roads in other states

When you look at how much Texas drivers hand over to Washington and how much comes back, it’s easy to feel like the feds don’t like us much.

Federal officials do not “directly” return a whopping 78 percent of fuel and vehicle taxes collected in Texas. That’s second highest among states; behind Iowa with its 84% bye-bye rate and well ahead of third-place Florida.

Unfortunately, though, there’s a bigger untold story here. Officials invested more than half of those collections into projects straddling one or more states. And the data doesn’t show how those amounts were distributed among states.

So the 78% no-return likely isn’t as bad as it looks. Texas probably received more. Still, hover over the interactive map above and you’ll see a wide range of give and take, including Alaska’s 60 percent gain.

The data, from fiscal 2011, is the latest from the Federal Highway Administration. I saved it to a CSV file and used D3.js, with an assist from ColorBrewer.js and some custom javascript, to display it here. Have fun.

Texas road-rage accidents dashboard

When are drivers likely to lose their cool, to the point of rage?

I figured the hours after bars closed on weekends were the hot times. But that’s not true, according to a state road-rage database obtained by the Express-News.

I put together an online dashboard to query the database, which is hosted as a Google Fusion Table. It’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of layered filters, such as age, gender, ethnicity, days, times, etc.

Try it out below. For convenient side-by-side comparisons, click the “Compare Two Views” button under the dashboard.

I gleaned a few interesting insights myself.

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8 Jul 2013, 10:42pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations Oil and gas prices Travel
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Comments Off on Record high gas prices changing how Americans drive

Record high gas prices changing how Americans drive

With wild swings in gas prices pushing ever higher, U.S. drivers are slowly curbing their habits.

Regular-grade gas averaged more than $3.60 a gallon nationwide in 2011 and 2012. It’s never been so high, even when adjusted for inflation. The last records were set during the Iran hostage crisis three decades ago.

High prices, along with recessions, have tugged at America’s driving addiction, bringing down mileage in 1979 and again in recent years. But unlike gas prices, which can arc 40 percent in a year, driving habits die hard.

The difference jumps out when you juxtapose the data in a graphic. Mashing data like this can sometimes be confusing when you have two separate axes, but I think there’s an interesting pattern here.

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Paying too much for car insurance?

If you’re in Texas, odds are you’re paying more for car insurance than the average U.S. driver, says a survey by Insure.com.

I ran the survey’s data through Google Fusion Tables to see a bigger picture, and it turns out costs are as varied as the nation’s landscape itself. In particular, extreme highs touch all three coasts as well as the Canadian and Mexican borders.

Hover over states to see average costs. The darker the shade, the higher the cost.

Reasons for the undulating costs are, literally, all over the map, from claim-happy and disaster-prone Louisiana and bumper-to-bumper traffic in Georgia, to slow-poke drivers in Iowa and strict teen-driving laws in Maine, according to Insure.com.

The survey looked at 2013 cars and settled on a typical guy with a clean record and good credit. Texas rolled in at $1,545, ranking 19th  overall.

Texas joined 19 other states and D.C. to rank higher than the $1,510 national average. Louisiana tops the list with $2,699. Maine sits at the bottom with $934.

Here are the top 10. Again, use hover to see dollars. The full table’s here.

17 Mar 2013, 3:39pm
Automobiles Commuting Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Worst commutes in San Antonio

Worst commutes in San Antonio

San Antonio commuters spend an average of 23 and a half minutes getting to work, the latest federal data show.

Nothing shattering. In fact, it’s about two minutes less than the national average.

But what surprises me are some of the zip codes with the longest commutes.

Before seeing the U.S. Census data mapped out recently by a team at WNYC in New York, I figured commuters with the longest slogs tended to live in areas swaddling Loop 1604 on the North Side and exurbs like Boerne and New Braunfels.

In the map above, the beleaguered U.S. 281 corridor shows up as expected. But South Loop 1604 looks worse than its northern leg. And look at the bruised ring of satellites to the west and south.

A concentration of jobs on the North Side, along Loop 1604 and interstates 35 and 10, is likely sucking in many of these commuters from counties on all sides. The pull is stronger and wider than than I had realized.

You can hover over zip codes to see average commute times. You can also slide the map to see other cities, and zoom out to see other states. Here’s a full-page version.

Note that these stats include transit, walking and bicycling. But in a car town like San Antonio, despite volatile gas prices the past five years, nine out of 10 people still drive or carpool to work. Here’s a breakdown.

 
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