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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Geography of a Recession

The time-series map seen on the following link is an outstanding example of data visualization.  The map was produced by Latoya Egwuekwe, a journalist and labor writer.

The map illustrates the progress of the recession (and geographic concentration) better than numbers.  The recession is seen plainly in color, spreading across the country like a cancer, spreading from county to adjacent county.   I am watching to see how the map will illustrate the economic recovery.

The map suggests that additional analysis might reveal new insights.  It occurs to me that adjacent counties strongly affect their neighbors.  The data underlying "Geography" might be used for a mathematical analysis to show the economic dependence of counties upon adjacent counties.  That in turn helps characterize the local component of the economy, as compared to the national component.

The "cancerous" appearance marking the spread of the recession may be an accurate representation.  It may be possible to analyze the recession as an epidemic, in terms of the parameters set out in "The Tipping Point", by Malcolm Gladwell.   This might provide policy-makers with additional tools for fighting future recessions.

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