The Richest 0.1% II
Rising bankruptcies and home prices

Rising bankruptcies

It was quite exciting to see this nice map in the Sunday Times:


Actual headline for the map: "Where Home Prices Rise Sharply, Bankruptcies Fall"

Alternative headline for the map: "Bankruptcies Jump in the South and Midwest"

Not clear from this map (but mentioned in the article):

  • A new law, effective Oct 17, which will make it harder to clear away credit card debt has touched off "a rush to the court" (This effect would have happened in 2005 so would be hidden in 2000-2005 changes.)
  • There is "strong evidence" that home equity borrowing is providing a further bulwark against disaster although the author also cites an economist saying that unemployment rates, not house prices, tend to be the most important predictors of bankruptcy

The map'd be even nicer if the element of population density can be added to it although I am not sure how this can be done without producing clutter.  Do make a suggestion in the comments if you have an idea.  Such a map would then adjust for the problem of "low populations" as indicated in the very useful note on the map.

I'll also repeat a previously mentioned point, which is that the legend should mark out the actual maximum and minimum of the data, rather than using "greater than 35%".

Reference: "Where Home Prices Rise Steeply. Bankruptcies Fall", New York Times, Oct 9 2005.


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Perhaps you could replace the solid shading of each county with some texture representing population density. My first thought was to use colored dots, with more dots representing denser populations, but maybe bigger dots would be better. Or maybe parallel lines or crosshatching, where the thickness of the lines reflects the density.

Basically, the color within a county would reflect the kind of change, and the amount of that color would reflect the density of the population.

Steve Citron-Pousty

But the color's represent rates not total numbers so population size doesn't matter.

What do you want to show with total population counts. I think better maps to accompany this one would be a map of housing prices (easy to get from census data) and another for unemployment rates.

It is also interesting to see how they explain "small sample sizes" in the upper west.

Steve Citron-Pousty

Added an image to my site for housing prices

Steve Citron-Pousty

Added an image to my site for housing prices


Hmmm. I'm going to disagree: I think that the original NYT graphic, while pretty to look at, didn't actually address the subject very well at all. The map fails because it doesn't show the relationship between housing prices and bankruptcies.

Steve's (nice) maps illustrate the problem--you have to eyeball difference two maps to figure out the relationship.

In this case, a simple scatterplot of each county's bankruptcy rate and median housing price would have been more on point.

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