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Line Chart Example

A New York Times article and corresponding charts show how income inequality has increased. In 1980, low- and middle-income people saw healthy increases in income growth. In 2014, those in the lower income percentiles saw the least growth, while the highest income earners saw the most growth.

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The chart is different from a traditional line chart, which shows change over time. Each line, in this example, represents one year, and the X axis represents income level. It's effective because we see the dramatic difference between the two sample years, with a notable intersection around the 95th percentile and then a steep curve up for the very wealthy.

The Times, of course, tends to be a liberal paper, and the message is clearly anti-Trump's tax policies, but the chart illustrates the point well.

Additional charts show changes over time, and the Times calls this piece "interactive." The lines move, but "interactive" may be an overstatement.

Discussion:

  • What main points do you take away from the chart?
  • What's missing from the chart? How might Republicans who promote tax breaks for the wealthy argue with the representation?
  • What other visuals could be useful to illustrate the points?
  • How could you make the charts more interactive?