Tag Archives: statistics

How do views on major institutions differ by political affiliation?

The Pew article Republicans increasingly critical of several major U.S. institutions, including big corporations and banks by Ted Van Green (8/20/2021) includes the chart copied here.  The charts show clearly that republicans are more critical than in 2019, but it would seem that gaps are more concerning.  Republicans are more critical of banks and corporations than two years ago but that puts them right around democrats.  In other instances viewpoints are diverging. The 76 to 34 positive viewpoint difference on college and universities seems concerning and from the article:

The survey finds that partisan differences extend to views of K-12 public schools: 77% of Democrats say they have a positive effect, compared with 42% of Republicans. A 57% majority of Republicans, including nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans (65%), say public elementary and secondary schools have a negative effect.

Discussion of the data as well as the reporting of the data and ramifications of the results would seem to fit into many a course. Pew has a methodology section and the data.


Is voting a right or a privilege?

The answer to the question is correlated with party affiliation as Pew reports in their article Wide partisan divide on whether voting is a fundamental right or a privilege with responsibilities by Vianney Gomez and Carroll Doherty (7/22/2021) as their chart here shows.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly say voting is a fundamental right that should not be restricted in any way – 78% hold this view, while fewer than a quarter (21%) say it is a privilege. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited if requirements are not met, compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.

On another question we have this:

Nearly all Americans (94%) – including 95% of both Republicans and Democrats – say it is important that people who are legally qualified to vote are able to cast a ballot, with 82% saying it is very important.

This makes me wonder if there is a different interpretation to “can be limited.”  There are three other charts and links to the questions used and the methodology. All great for a stats course.

How much debt do students have by race?

The EducationalData.org post Student Loan Debt by Race by Melanie Hanson (6/9/21) has three excellent graphs such as the one copied here. It may not be surprising that Asians have the least debt given Asians have the highest income, but Hispanic and Latino debt is almost identical to White and Caucasian debt yet their income is typically closer to the Black and African American community.  From a statistical standpoint the first bullet in the highlights

Black and African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than White college graduates.

is a bit misleading. Given the skewness of the data (the 17% in the top category for Black and African American) one should also report a median difference, which looks to be closer to around $10,000. Interestingly, in all cases the median debt is below the $39,000, which is manageable college debt in most cases. The question that comes to mind is how much lower would this be if median income increased at the same pace as the stock market or top 1%?

The article has sources but no easily downloadable data set.


How big is the ideological divide in the U.S.?

Percent who say that speaking the country’s language is important to being part of (the country).

Pew answers the question in their article Ideological divisions over cultural issues are far wider in the U.S. than in the UK, France and Germany by Laura Silver (5/5/2021). In summary (bold added by me):

Across 11 questions on cultural subjects ranging from nationalism to political correctness, the gap between the ideological left and right in the United States – or liberals and conservatives, in the common U.S. parlance – is significantly wider than the ideological gaps found in the European countries surveyed. In some cases, this is because America’s conservatives are outliers. In other cases, it’s because America’s liberals are outliers. In still other cases, both the right and left in the U.S. hold more extreme positions than their European counterparts, resulting in ideological gaps that are more than twice the size of those seen in the UK, Germany or France.

There are a total of eight charts like the one here, plus links to the survey questions and methodology. So, how divided can a country be and still function?

What’s new at sustainabilitymath?

There is now a new page that contains animations for concepts related to statistics and calculus. They are not sustainability related, but since I post materials for calculus and statistics and I have been playing with R, I decided to post these. There are 19 topics covered with 36 animations. In particular, if you teach calculus or statistics these animations may be helpful. So, go to the Animations page and take a look.

Urban/Rural Red/Blue?

FiveThirtyEight has the interesting graph copied here from their article How Urban or Rural is Your State? And What Does That Mean For The 2020 Election? by Nathaniel Rakich (4/14/2020). How did they measure urbanization?

Essentially, we calculated the average number of people living within a five-mile radius of every census tract and took the natural logarithm to create an “urbanization index,” or a calculation of how urban or rural a given area is.

The article has a table of data that goes with the graph and they look at the 2020 election if urbanization dictated the outcome.

What are people’s view of C-19?

The Pew article Worries About Coronavirus Surge, as Most Americans Expect a Recession – or Worse (3/26/2020) reports the results from a survey related to COVID-19. Most of it is not too surprising:

There is broad public agreement that the nation is confronting a crisis. Two-thirds of Americans – including majorities in all major demographic and partisan groups – say COVID-19 is a “significant crisis.”

But, then there is the graphic copied here. Ok, the partisan split on the news media and the President aren’t that surprising, while still quit stark. Interestingly, Dem/Lean Dem rank the top four categories consistently lower than Rep/Lean Rep. The CDC gets 10 percentage points lower and ordinary people 8 percentage points lower.

There are numerous charts of survey responses and the article has a methodology section with data.

What is the distribution of people by age and race?

The Pew article, The most common age among whites in U.S. is 58, more than double that of racial and ethnic minorities by katherine Schaeffer (7/30/19) provides this graph of the distribution of age by race.

Whites had a median age of 44, meaning that if you lined up all whites in the U.S. from youngest to oldest, the person in the middle would be 44 years old. This compares with a median age of just 31 for minorities and 38 for the U.S. population overall.

U.S. Hispanics were also a notably youthful group, with a median age of 30. As a separate Pew Research Center report noted, Latinos have long been one of the nation’s youngest racial or ethnic groups, dating back to at least 1980.

The demographic differences leads to questions about studies that compare variables by race. If they don’t adjust for these differences they may be inaccurate. In general, a random sample of people will end up with an older cohort for whites and some variables are correlated with age.

How much time do we spend on our phones?

The RescueTime blog post Screen time stats 2019: Here’s how much you use your phone during the workday? by Jory MacKay (3/21/2019) provides data on phone use. Note that

Let’s start with the high-level stats. When we looked at the data of 11,000 users who actively use the RescueTime app, we found that most peopleon average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phones.

So, the data comes from users of the RescueTime app and even though the sample size is large it is not a random sample. It is an interesting question if this sample of users is under users or over users of their phones. Still, the data is interesting.

And while a recent Deloitte survey found the average American checks their phone 47 times a day, our number was slightly higher. We found that, on average, users check their phones 58 times a day with 30 check-ins happening during working hours (9am–5pm).

Most people spend about 1 minute and 15 seconds on their phone each time they pick them up. This means we’re losing 37.5 minutes a day during working hours to our phones (at a minimum).

The graph copied here is a representation of what those 37.5 minutes may look like.  Why does this matter?

Psychologists have found that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productive time.

And when it comes to our phones especially, it’s not just the switches themselves that interrupt our day, but the expectation of being interrupted.

In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Researchfound that even the presence of a turned off smartphone lowered our cognitive performance. In other words, just having your phone around undercuts your ability to do good work.

There are more graphs in the article and plenty of quantitative information for a stats or QL course.

How do we visualize changing temperature distributions?

This recent video (3/29/19) by Robert Rohde shows how temperature distributions have changed. Each year the graph is a distribution of temperature anomalies.  As noted “This essentially the same data that was previous shown as an animated map:”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JObGveVUz7k  The video here is useful in any statistics or QL course and the two videos together provide an illustration of how to display data. The data is from Berkeley Earth.