Data visualization lessons: Jitter charts, screwups, and visionaries

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/data-visualization-lessons-jitter

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Jitter charts are my new favorite tool for displaying how distributions change over time.

I used them to great effect in my recent post One Bad Year? Comparing the Long-Term Public Pension Fund Returns Against Assumptions.

I’m often looking at distributions, and wanting to communicate something about how those distributions change over time, or how distributions compare. Often, I have to simply pick out key percentiles in those distributions, or key aspects, such as mean and standard deviation.

But why not graph all the points in one’s sample directly, if one has them?

That’s where jitter charts can help.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 16 Sep 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

World Suicide Prevention Day: U.S. Suicide Trend Update through 2021

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/world-suicide-prevention-day-us-suicide

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In updating the 2021 numbers, there is some bad news: while suicide rates had decreased in 2020, in 2021 they increased to continue a worrying trend:

The increase in 2021 brought the age-adjusted death rate back to a level close to the peak, which was in 2018.

As noted on the graph, the cumulative increase in the age-adjusted death rate from the minimum in 2000 to the current levels has been 35%. This is very worrying.

I could have exaggerated this trend by starting my vertical scale at 10 instead of 0, but I think it’s obvious enough the trend is bad.

I don’t need to exaggerate.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 10 Sep 2022

Publication Site: STUMP on substack

Millennial Massacre Part 2: Increase In Mortality for Ages 18-39 for 2020-2021 Mainly Driven by Drug Overdoses and COVID

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/millennial-massacre-part-2-increase

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  • About 30% of the contribution to excess mortality for young adults in 2021 came from drug overdoses.
  • The percentage contribution to excess mortality of drug ODs was not that different by age group over the 18-39 age span.
  • COVID as a contribution to excess mortality was higher for older people —- for those age 35-39, 36% of their excess mortality came from COVID in 2021. In contrast, for those age 18-24, only 17% of their excess mortality came from COVID.
  • Indeed, the youngest of the adults (age 18-24) had higher contributions from homicide (20% of excess mortality) and had comparable excess mortality contribution from motor vehicle accidents (16%) in 2021.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 23 Jul 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Pension Obligation Bonds

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/pension-obligation-bonds#details

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2015: Why are Pension Obligation Bonds OF THE DEVIL? A Lesson from the Dollar Auction  

http://stump.marypat.org/article/191/why-are-pension-obligation-bonds-of-the-devil-a-lesson-from-the-dollar-auction

The dollar auction is a truly evil game. I used to forbid people from playing it at Mathcamp. That’s not a joke.

I had a really ugly graph on that post, and yes, I’ve gotten better with the graphs over the years. The ugliness of that graph was a partial inspiration to seek solutions. (Other ugly graphs as well).

You can barely see it, but there was a POB between 2003 and 2005. It barely made a dent in the unfunded pension liability.

And what then? In the ten years since 2005, Illinois underfunded the TRS pension fund by at least a billion dollars a year.

With regards to contributions, there was a choice on the part of the “government”.

With regards to all the other reasons for shortfalls — investment experience, experience in salary changes and longevity — the government had less direct control. But they definitely had a choice with regards to how much of the budget to apply to the pensions.

And every damn year, the Illinois government made a conscious decision to shortchange the pension. That was not an accident.

POBs are most often used by governments that were shortchanging the pensions, or goosing the benefits in insane and seemingly sane ways, to paper over said shortchanging. This farce lasts only so long.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 20 Jun 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Childhood Mortality Trends, 1999-2021 (provisional), Ages 1-17

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/childhood-mortality-trends-1999-2021

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There was the good news from before the pandemic: the accidental death rate had come way, way down. That was mostly due to improved traffic safety. (Not reduced drug ODs, alas)

In the pandemic, both increased motor vehicle deaths and drug overdoses has pushed up the accidental death rate for teens to increase to levels seen a decade ago.

But there was a bad pre-pandemic trend: suicide rates had increased from 2007 to 2018 — increasing a total of 120% over that period. That was hideous.

It seemed to have reversed in 2019, and come down during the pandemic. The suicide trends in the pandemic really made no sense to anybody, but perhaps the increased drug ODs were actually suicides.

Homicides didn’t have a steady trend before the pandemic, but has definitely had a bad trend during the pandemic. Homicide death rates for teens increased over 50% from 2019 to 2021.

One observation: suicide and homicide death rates used to be about the same for teens in the early 2000s, and then with the bad suicide trend, suicide ranked higher. Even with the increase in homicide rates, suicide still ranks higher.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 15 June 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Fewer than 4000 people just approved boosting Providence Rhode Island liabilities by $515 million

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/fewer-than-4000-people-just-approved?s=w

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Yes, for over five years now, they’ve been contribution more than 50% of payroll to the pension plan as the full contribution to the pensions.

In the past, they mostly contributed the full requirement, though in some years they didn’t. The requirement used to be less than 50%, but when you short the fund, and when you underperform on investments (which we will see in a bit), that’s expected, right?

So let’s see how the funded ratio has been doing — for all these full payments, the funded ratio must be healthy, correct? [if you didn’t read my excerpts above]

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 10 June 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

U.S. Mortality Trends Through the Pandemic

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/us-mortality-trends-through-the-pandemic?s=w

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I discuss this in the portion of the talk about death rates by age group.

For 2021, the worst relative increase in mortality, compared to 2019, was for ages 30-44.

[I have called it the Millennial Massacre, but it obviously overlaps with Gen X…. and Middle Age Massacre doesn’t exactly work, either. Dang the allure of alliteration].

We will see in a moment that most of that mortality increase didn’t come from COVID.

If you look at overall mortality, obviously total mortality for this age group is much lower than for those much older.

A 5% increase in mortality for those aged 85+ will translate to a much larger number of deaths, but a 50% increase in mortality for those aged 40-44 is extremely worrisome to actuaries and insurers even if the absolute number of deaths is lower in impact. We’re setting reserves and expectations based on certain assumptions, and we’re generally not assuming fluctuations of 50% — that’s just nuts compared to our historical experience…..

…..until now.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 20 May 2022

Publication Site: STUMP on substack

All Men Must Die, But They Don’t Have to Die in Office

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/all-men-must-die-but-they-dont-have?s=w

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What’s interesting about the Senate age distribution is that though we have some difference in the lumpiness, when I look at the average age of the senators by party, they’re basically the same: 64 years old (and some change). On the younger end of the Boomers.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 29 April 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Preliminary results for 2021 All-Cause U.S. Mortality: 21% More Deaths than 2019, 2% More Deaths than 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/preliminary-results-for-2021-all?s=w

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As you can see from the annotation on the graph, so far there have been 2% more deaths reported in 2021 compared to 2020. You can see that there had been a spike of deaths at the beginning of 2021, then a quiet spring/early summer. I did not extend my graph into 2022, but the heightened mortality of later/summer fall into winter has continued into winter at the beginning of 2022.

For the record, the 1% increase in deaths from 2018 to 2019 was pretty common before, driven by regular growth of the aging population of the U.S.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 3 April 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Death the Dickensian Way

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/death-the-dickensian-way?s=w

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As you can see, Bleak House is the dying-est novels for named characters.

Obviously, if you really go by what was going on in the novel in general, A Tale of Two Cities, which has a huge part of its action take place in the middle of The Terror, really was set in the most murderous time.

Looking at this body count, I’d say Bleak House is the one that comes closest to accurate Victorian UK mortality. It was brutal, y’all.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 16 Mar 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality Monday: DEATH TO GEESE

Link: https://stump.marypat.org/article/766/mortality-monday-death-to-geese

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ANIMAL ENCOUNTER DIAGNOSES

Going back to the mortality database from the U.S. in 2014, I needed to figure out what the relevant ICD-10 codes were.

….

That’s a total of 384 deaths, and it looks like the primary cause is being attacked by some non-dog mammal. I would assume the second cause is primarily people being thrown from or falling off horses. Alas, most of the vehicular accident codes do not distinguish between hitting a person and hitting an animal.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 3 July 2017

Publication Site: STUMP

Mortality Angle of the Russian/Ukrainian Conflict: Bad Even Before Pandemic

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-angle-of-the-russianukrainian?s=w

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It may not be fair to throw Finland in there, but if the excuse is hard-drinking and being northerly, Finland has that in excess, and they are beating all those other countries in life expectancy. So that’s not the difference.

Note that all the ex-Soviet states except Russia and Ukraine also had the post-USSR fall from 1989-1994… but started their mortality improvement in 1994, as opposed to a decade later.

Poland started doing well the moment communism went away. Isn’t that interesting?

But I want to note that Ukraine and Russia are lagging the comparable countries hugely. To be sure, Russia is huge, and includes Siberia, which is not the most congenial of locations. But Ukraine doesn’t have the excuse of Siberia.

Both places, in short, suck when it comes to mortality.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 27 Feb 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack