Visualizing Variance of U.S. Marriage Rates
I recently got engaged and it’s been funny to see and hear people’s reactions. One co-worker actually said “I didn’t know people were still getting married.” While there have been numerous claims that “marriage is dead,” I don’t think that’s true everywhere. This led me to take a look at U.S. marriage rates and explore the marriage rate variance and look at these rates over time. For this SWD Challenge, I found my data here and brought it into Excel and played around with it exploring the different graph types to see what popped out at me. This was my first time really using the histogram graph and bubble chart option to plot all 50 states. I then recreated the bubble chart in Illustrator and brought my histogram over from excel. I used color consistently to highlight a few states and talk about their rankings and trends over the 9 years.
Some lessons learned:
It was interesting bringing variance back to my data. At my day job I’m often stuck with averages and floating data points, it’s great to bring data into context. At first I was hesitant to use a scatter-plot visualization for non-continuous variables. I know this isn’t particularly frowned upon but I always found the line of bubbles a little hard to read and find to frustrating when the data points overlap. This is why I choose to highlight some states and bring them to life with color. That way, the overlapping dots can sit in the background as a general frame of reference. This challenge has helped me appreciate this visualization option a bit more.
On the more technical side, I created a simple work-around in the cumbersome illustrator graph tool. I find this tool has trouble deciphering between different data-types (your axes labels vs your numeric data) especially if you are using years on one of your axes. To remedy this, just add a letter to your row of years, and the graph tool will recognize it as your axis label.
I did this challenge in a day, since I was traveling/suffering from jet lag all this week, but it has definitely opened up potentially deep rabbit hole for me. Looking forward to future challenges!