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Here’s How Americans Spend Their Time, Sorted by Income

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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.

Common Interests

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.

Curious Anomalies

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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Politics

Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

How many democracies does the world have? This visual shows the change since 1945 and the top nations becoming more (and less) democratic.

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Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.

Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.

Interestingly, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.

In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.

The Methodology

V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.

Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:

  • Free and fair elections
  • Rule of law
  • Alternative sources of information and association
  • Freedom of expression

Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.

Which Countries Have Declined the Most?

The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Lost
🇭🇺 Hungary0.800.46-34
🇵🇱 Poland0.890.59-30
🇷🇸 Serbia0.610.34-27
🇹🇷 Türkiye0.550.28-27
🇮🇳 India0.710.44-27
🇲🇱 Mali0.510.25-26
🇹🇭 Thailand0.440.20-24
🇦🇫 Afghanistan0.380.16-22
🇧🇷 Brazil0.880.66-22
🇧🇯 Benin0.640.42-22

Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. Hungary, Poland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.

Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.

Countries Becoming More Democratic

Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Gained
🇦🇲 Armenia0.340.74+40
🇫🇯 Fiji0.140.40+26
🇬🇲 The Gambia0.250.50+25
🇸🇨 Seychelles0.450.67+22
🇲🇬 Madagascar0.280.48+20
🇹🇳 Tunisia0.400.56+16
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka0.420.57+15
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau0.410.56+15
🇲🇩 Moldova0.590.74+15
🇳🇵 Nepal0.460.59+13

Armenia, Fiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.

The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.

With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.

Want to know more about democracy in today’s world? Check out our global breakdown of each country’s democratic score in Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022.
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