Tag Archives: QL

How much have food prices increased?

The World Bank Data Blog provides information on food prices in the article Food prices eased but risks remain elevated by John Baffes & Kaltrina Temaj (11/21/2022)

The World Bank’s Food Price Index declined 12% in the third quarter of 2022 (q/q) after reaching an all-time high in April. The index remains almost 20% higher than a year ago.  In domestic currency terms, however, food prices remain elevated due to currency deprecations. Food prices are expected to fall 5% in 2023 before stabilizing in 2024. Despite the expected declines, most food prices will remain high by historical norms. The forecasts are also subjected to numerous risks.

The article has total of 7 graphs, most of them are interactive, and interesting information:

Supply disruptions, increasing production costs, and appreciation of the U.S. dollar have exerted upward pressure on domestic food price inflation in most countries.  Food price inflation in South Asia averaged 20% in the first three quarters of 2022 (y/y); the average for most other regions was 14%. The exception was the East Asia and the Pacific region where food price inflation averaged just 6%, in part due to stable rice prices, a key staple in the region.

There are links to the data but it may take some work to get it. This is a rich QL article. For example, a good assignment is use the graph to verify the percentages in the first quote above.



Who views violent crime as voting issue?

In the past I’ve posted about pew surveys presenting very split opinions by the D and the R teams. Today we have an interesting one within the D team in the Pew article Violent crime is a key midterm voting issue, but what does the data say? by John  Gramlich (10/31/2022). Key quote:

Differences by race are especially pronounced among Democratic registered voters. While 82% of Black Democratic voters say violent crime is very important to their vote this year, only a third of White Democratic voters say the same.

There are a couple of graphs in the article and plenty of quantitative information. What is particularly nice is the discussion about views on violent crime and some disconnects. The article does a great job of discussion possible reasons for this disconnect.


Which political side is losing more?

According to the pew article Growing share of Americans say their side in politics has been losing more often than winning by Ted Van Green (10/3/2022) overall 72% feel their side is losing more. There are, of course, differences by party:

 Today, about eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (81%) say they feel that their side is losing more often than winning politically, up from 74% who said this in 2021. In February 2020, with President Donald Trump in the White House, just 29% of Republicans said their side was losing more often than winning, while 69% said it was mostly winning.

This makes some sense. When you control the presidency you are winning more. Yet,

Still, two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic leaners (66%) say their side is losing more than winning, up from 60% in 2021.

In early 2020, and at earlier points in Trump’s presidency, much larger majorities of Democrats said they felt like their side was losing more than winning. For example, 80% of Democrats said this in February 2020.

Controlling the white house doesn’t seem to be helping the Dems. How sustainable is a society if majorities always think they are losing?

As always, pew has a methodology section which can be used in a stats class.




Are wildlife populations improving?

According to the Our World in Data article Wild mammals are making a comeback in Europe thanks to conservation efforts by Hannah Ritchie (9/27/2022) many mammal populations have increased as the chart shows.  The Eurasian beaver is thrilled:

The Eurasian beaver has made the most remarkable recovery. It’s estimated to have increased 167-fold, on average. There were likely only a few thousand beavers left in Europe in first half of the 20th century. Today there are more than 1.2 million.

Obtaining these estimate is a challenge and interesting:

For example, the result for Eurasian beavers is based on studies of 98 different populations. The grey wolf is based on 86 studies. For the Iberian lynx, high-quality time series were only available for 7 populations.

This means, for example, that the value of 16,705% for the Eurasian beaver means that there was, on average, a 16,705% increase in the numbers of beavers in each of the 98 populations that were included in this study. This does not mean that there was a 16,705% increase in all populations. Nor can we say that there was this level of increase for Eurasian beavers as a whole because we do not know the change in unmonitored populations, and the number of beavers in different populations will be different.

From a QL perspective it would be nice if the available data included the starting population size. It is also worth noting.

There are more than 250 European mammal species, so the ones that we covered here represent just 10% of the continent’s mammals. The fact that these species are doing well does not mean that all species are.

This article seems like it could be the basis for many projects.

What are the economic freedom rankings?

The Fraser Institute does an annual economic freedom report (9/8/2022), which ranks countries and interesting also states in the U.S. The main page includes an explanation of what goes in the economic freedom score. The most recent data, 2020, and the sub scores are available to download. The U.S. ranks as #7 overall, but as you can see by the map here there is considerable variable by state. They have put together an excellent interactive page, which is where the map here comes from, to explore the results in a number of formats. Great Stats/QL information here.

How much corn?

The image (2020), which I find fascinating, is from the NASA earth observatory article Falling for Corn:

The natural-color image above was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Terra. The map below shows lands that were planted with corn in 2020 (marked in yellow). The map was built from the Cropland Data Layer product provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, which includes data from the USGS National Land Cover Database and from satellites such as Landsat 8, ResourceSat-2, and Sentinel-2.

That’s a lot of corn.

In its October 2021 report, USDA noted that corn production was up 3 percent this year, with an estimated 15 billion bushels of corn harvested from 93.3 million planted acres. Record-high yields were reported in ten states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio (all shown above).

More than one-third of the world’s corn is grown in the United States, and the largest share of it comes from a swath of land across the Midwest.

Together Iowa and Illinois grow and harvest about one-third of the entire U.S. crop, and each state alone produces more corn than many countries.

If you are looking for data check out the National Agricultural Statistics Service linked in the first quote. If you use GIS the National Land Cover Database is also a good data site. For a QL project, how do we understand 93.3 million acres?

How are teens using social media?

The Pew article Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022 by Emily A. Vogels, Risa Gelles-Watnick, and Navid Massarat (8/10/2022) is filled with data on teen social media use. I was a little surprised by the graph copied here and less surprised by this:

In addition, the share of teens who say they use the internet almost constantly has gone up: 46% of teens say they use the internet almost constantly, up from only about a quarter (24%) of teenagers who said the same in 2014-15.

I found this concerning:

In addition, the share of teens who say they use the internet almost constantly has gone up: 46% of teens say they use the internet almost constantly, up from only about a quarter (24%) of teenagers who said the same in 2014-15.

There are numerous charts and a methodology section. This article seems great for a stats or QL based course.

How deep are the oceans?


It is often difficult to comprehend quantitative differences. MetaBallStudios‘ YouTube channel has a collection of comparison videos, such as the depth of oceans, to aid in understanding differences. There are a number of great videos that could be useful in a quantitative literacy based class. Take a look as they are really cool.

How can ocean temperature profiles connect to calculus?

Exploring Our Fluid Earth has some educational materials for science. For example, the page Compare-Contrast-Connect: Seasonal Variation in Ocean Temperature Vertical Profiles includes the graph copied here.  Some of these graph have inflection points which relate (I think) to thermoclines (transition between warmer surface water and colder deep water). There certainly seems to be a calculus connection here. For QL folks the graphs are a little tricky based on the y-axis and math folks would probably prefer the depth as the x-axis (why?). There are links on the right sidebar to other projects and information.

Is there a relationship between homicide and race?

One more post from the Manhattan Institute’s* Breaking Down the 2020 Homicide Spike by Christos A. Makridis and Robert VerBruggen (5/18/2022). We first note:

Homicides went up throughout the country, and for every major demographic group, in 2020, but they did not rise for everyone equally, as is clear when we break down the numbers by race, age, sex, urbanicity, and region of the country.

Related to figure 3 (copied here) we have this, which is excellent  QL material:

The racial and ethnic breakdown is perhaps most striking in this regard. Proportionally, homicide rates rose by about 34% for black Americans and about 19% percent for non-Hispanic whites: a notable, but not extreme, gap (Figure 3). But since the black homicide rate was already many times higher than the white one, this translated into 8 additional black deaths for every 100,000 population—an increase similar to the total homicide rate for the country as a whole—while the death rate for whites rose by only 0.5 per 100,000. (Recall that these numbers pertain to the homicide victims, not the killers, though American homicide is overwhelmingly intraracial.)

There is a lot to discuss in this article as well as ample quantitative literacy material. There is a discussion of methods and the CDC data they use is easy enough to locate.

* (This is the same note from Monday’s Post) Yes, MI has a clear political leaning but that doesn’t make their work incorrect. Their data and methods are sound here and this should be engaged not ignored. If someone thinks something is incorrect then let me know.