How does the U.S. government spend tax dollars?

Federal government spending is reported on the usgovernmentspending.com website. On the main page you will find this pie chart of fiscal year 2018 (Oct 2017 through Sept 2018). The two biggest categories are health care 22% and pensions including social security 19%, with interest at 6%. For some context you can read  What does the federal government spend your tax dollars on? Social insurance programs, mostly by  D. Desilver (4/4/17).

In fiscal year 2016, which ended this past Sept. 30, the federal government spent just under $4 trillion, and about $2.7 trillion – more than two-thirds of the total – went for various kinds of social insurance (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment compensation, veterans benefits and the like). Another $604 billion, or 15.3% of total spending, went for national defense; net interest payments on government debt was about $240 billion, or 6.1%. Education aid and related social services were about $114 billion, or less than 3% of all federal spending. Everything else – crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, national parks, foreign aid and much, much more – accounted for the remaining 6%.

The usgovernmentspending.com page is a maze of information, but you can find plenty of data and charts if interested. For example, you can find total government spending (fed, state, local) data  and charts by categories. There are certainly projects for many courses, including stats, waiting to be created from these pages.

How does air pollution compare by country?

The State of Global Air 2018 has an interactive air pollution graph to compare countries and regions.  Graph and data are both available. For example, the graph here is Average Seasonal Population-Weighted Ozone (ppb) for Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. (in yellow), as well as the global average (in black).   We can select ambient particulate matter pollution and household air pollution from solid fuels, along with most countries or regions. There is also a tab for health impact as the number of deaths (this is not a rate so larger countries will likely have more deaths) related to  the particular air pollution for the selected country. The State of Global Air 2018 explains their methods, has a full report, and maps.

What is the state of food security and nutrition in the world?

Read the FAO report How close are we to #ZeroHunger? The state of food security and nutrition in the world (2017) .  The online report has numerous chart that can be downloaded, such as the one here.

After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger appears to be on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the global population.

In addition to an increase in the proportion of the world’s population that suffers from chronic hunger (prevalence of undernourishment), the number of undernourished people on the planet has also increased to 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015.

The report provides information on stunting, wasting, overweight children and adults, anemia, and breastfeeding. The data isn’t directly available on the web page, but some of it can be found in the full report.

Where does the U.S. rank on the world press freedom index?

According to the Reporters Without Borders index, the U.S. ranks 45 (out of 180) in 2018, just behind Romania and South Korea. Here is what they have to say about the U.S.

US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has been under increasing attack over the past few years, and the first year of President Donald J. Trump’s presidency has fostered further decline in journalists’ right to report. He has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempted to block White House access to multiple media outlets, and routinely uses the term “fake news” in retaliation for critical reporting. He has even called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses. The violent anti-press rhetoric from the highest level of the US government has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions. Reporters have even been subject to physical assault while on the job. It appears the Trump effect has only amplified the disappointing press freedom climate that predated his presidency. Whistleblowers face prosecution under the Espionage Act if they leak information of public interest to the press, while there is still no federal “shield law” guaranteeing reporters’ right to protect their sources. Journalists and their devices continue to be searched at the US border, while some foreign journalists are still denied entry into the US after covering sensitive topics like Colombia’s FARC or Kurdistan.

You can download their data and since the rankings stared in 2002 you might be able to get  access to past data (some of it is available in their archives). Their methodology is explained and they have an interactive map.

How many Billion dollar weather/climate disasters occur in the U.S. each year?

NOAA has your answer on their Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Time Series page. The page includes an interactive version of the graph here that allows you to select disaster types and adjust for CPI.  The data is available to download.

Determining the cost of disasters is not simple and they note:

In May 2012, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information — then known as National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) — hosted a workshop including academic, federal, and private sector experts to discuss best practices in evaluating disaster costs.

A research article “U.S. Billion-dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Data Sources, Trends, Accuracy and Biases” (Smith and Katz, 2013) regarding the loss data we use, our methods and any potential bias was published in 2013. This research article found the net effect of all biases appears to be an underestimation of average loss. In particular, it is shown that the factor approach can result in an underestimation of average loss of roughly 10–15%. This bias was corrected during a reanalysis of the loss data to reflect new loss totals.

A climate.gov post by Deke Arndt (4/13/18) , The all things being equal edition, discusses the connection between weather and climate:

Relative sea level in and around Boston has risen about half a foot in the last 50 years. So, all else being equal, the same storm 50 years ago would have six inches less water to push inland. That’s a big, big difference, and one that has developed on the climate scale.

That’s how climate comes in, even in these weather events. Many times, in the discussion of weather and climate, we mistakenly consider these two words, and the concepts they define, to be mutually exclusive frames.

Housekeeping

SustainabilityMath has been undergoing some behind the scenes upgrades over the last couple of days and so there wasn’t a post on Thursday. You may have noticed the page was down at times, but everything is back to running smoothly.

How much are we working?

Our World in Data has your answer with the article, Working Hours.

The researchers Michael Huberman and Chris Minns published estimates of weekly work hours going back to the late 19th century. This data – shown in the following visualization – shows that over this time working hours have steeply declined. Full-time workers in these countries work 20 or even 30 hours less every week than in the 19th century.

As always with Our World in Data, they have interactive graphs that can be downloaded (such as the one here – you also have choices of countries) along with the data set. The article has a total of six interactive graphs and data related to work, productivity,  income, and gender.

What are the differences in infant mortality by race?

The NYT has a lengthy article, Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis (4/11/18 by Linda Villarosa)  and Kevin Drum follows this up with the handy chart posted here in his post Our Disgraceful Infant Mortality Epidemic.  He notes that although infant morality has decreased the difference between Black and White infant morality has increase (by percentage):

In 1950, according to the CDC, the black rate of infant mortality was 64 percent higher than the white rate. Today it’s 133 percent higher

We also aren’t keeping up with the rest of world:

In 1960, we ranked 11th in infant mortality among rich countries. Not great, but not terrible. Today we rank 24th out of 27 rich countries, ahead of only Turkey, Mexico, and Chile.

You can find infant mortality data at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics page  (tables 10-13).

How much has growing season/allergy season increased in your town?

Climate Central has your answer with their post, Here’s How Frost-Free Season Affects Allergy Season (4/4/18). You will find a drop down menu to produce graphs like this one for Grand Rapids, which has seen as average increase of about 25 frost free days. On the downside,

 A study sampling 10 locations from Texas to Saskatoon, Canada indicated that pollen seasons lengthened between two to four weeks from 1995 to 2009, with the largest increases in the northernmost areas.

In addition, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide enhances photosynthesis in plants, meaning that they produce more pollen.

They don’t provide the data, unfortunately, but they do provide a clear methodology so that you can create the data set for your city. You can get weather data from NOAA Climate Data Online. There is great potential here for student projects in statistics courses.

Are teachers being paid fairly?

An August 2016 report by EPI, The teacher pay gap is wider than ever (8/9/16 by Allegretto and Mishel), suggests not. For instance, the graph here shows that teachers are paid 23% less than other college graduates in 2015 and the gap has been increasing since 1980.

Average weekly wages (inflation adjusted) of public-sector teachers decreased $30 per week from 1996 to 2015, from $1,122 to $1,092 (in 2015 dollars). In contrast, weekly wages of all college graduates rose from $1,292 to $1,416 over this period.

For all public-sector teachers, the relative wage gap (regression adjusted for education, experience, and other factors) has grown substantially since the mid-1990s: It was ‑1.8 percent in 1994 and grew to a record ‑17.0 percent in 2015.

The report includes 8 graphs with data plus two tales. There are comparisons between females and males, as well as union and non-union.