Here’s How Americans Spend Their Time, Sorted by Income
Today’s visualization comes from data scientist Henrik Lindberg, and it shows America’s favorite past-times based on the participation of people in different income brackets.
It uses data from the American Time Use Survey that is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to break down these activities.
While activities are all over the map, it appears that some past-times are more common across all income groups.
Team sports and solo pursuits both are represented well in the center. In fact, reading for personal interest, dancing, computer use, hunting, hiking, walking, playing basketball, or playing baseball can all be found in the middle of the spectrum, appealing to Americans in every income group.
Closer to the top and bottom of the visualization, however, we see where income groups diverge in how they spend their time. It’s probably not surprising to see that people with higher incomes spend more time golfing, playing racket sports, attending performing arts, and doing yoga than average. On the flipside, lower income Americans spend more time watching television, listening to the radio, and listening to/playing music.
Every data set has its own peculiarities. Sometimes these things can be explained, and sometimes they are just aberrations created as a result of how data was collected (i.e. how a survey was worded, bias, or some other error).
Here are some of the stranger anomalies that appear in this data set. We won’t attempt to explain them here, but feel free to speculate in the comments section:
- Higher income Americans disproportionately enjoy softball – while baseball has more universal appeal across income groups.
- While activities like boating are typically associated with higher income levels, the activity of running is generally not. Yet, running is disproportionately enjoyed by higher income Americans, according to this survey.
- Despite playing baseball being fairly universal across the spectrum, watching baseball skews higher income.
- Writing for personal interest has an interesting distribution: it is enjoyed disproportionately by poorer and richer Americans, but is underrepresented in the middle class.
Can you find anything else that stands out as being an anomaly?
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