The Monkey Cage: Choices in graphing parallel time series
Earlier this week I posted the following chart:
Economist Andrew Gelman took at look at this and explored alternative presentations of the data here is what he came up with:
Then I thought of plotting the incomes over time (all these income values are inflation-adjusted, of course):
I like this one a lot. In particular, it shows that the drop from 2000-2010 is really a drop since 2007. (Although I suppose Cowen would argue that the drop was really happening earlier and it was just that the economy was doing a Wiley E. Coyote, standing in midair and not actually going into freefall until people realized they had gone off the edge of the cliff).
Still, even the time-trends graph is not quite a replacement for the original bar plot which shows so much drama. I think my recommended solution is to give the bar plot for the initial impression and then follow up immediately with the time-trends graph, which shows the big picture much more clearly.