Friday, October 9, 2009

Income and Asset of the US (1989 - 2004)

I've been curious about the distribution of personal income and assets in the US. I found a data source at the Federal Reserve Board. However, it's masses of data and complicated spreadsheets. I've been trying to approach the problem as I ordinarily do, with mathematics. But, my experience has been that while I understand the math, few people I ever show it to grasp the real significance. Then yesterday I discovered a great tool and wondered if it would be useful for this application.

The tool was developed by Hans Rosling and is described in the video above and web site. Joyfully, a simple version of the tool is available in Google Gadgets (Motion Chart). it took me awhile to figure out how to use it, but I was rewarded with an interesting visual. It can be viewed here.

If you click on the play button, the data will flow with time. The different colors represent different percentile ranges of income for the US.

What do you see in the data?

What data would you like to see analyzed this way?

How could you use the tool?

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