Nathan Yau (link from Dan Hirschman) constructed the above excellent visualization of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Lots of interesting things here. The one thing that surprises me is that people (or maybe it’s households) making more than $200,000 only spent an average of $160,000. I guess the difference is taxes, savings (but not retirement savings, as that’s included in the “Personal Insurance and Pensions” category), and charitable donations. (Here’s the definition of all the expenditure categories.) Still, I was surprised that the amount spent by upper-income people was so low. The average income of people who make more than $200,000 must be pretty high . . . Here’s something from Wikipedia: of the households making over $200,000 in 2014, average income is (2.61 * $220,000 + 3.28 * $400,000)/(2.61 + 3.28) = $320,000. So, according to the data, I guess that half their income is going to taxes, non-retirement savings, and charitable donations. Put that way, this sounds about right: depending on where you live and how much you make, taxes can take close to 50% already.

Yau reports that he “made these charts in R with a variation of this unit chart tutorial.” He gives links to these, but I’d really like for him to share his code! I’d also like to know exactly what table he used. Yau’s blogging for free so I’m not complaining at all; I think his graph and follow-up discussion are great as they are! and they’d be even better with links to data and code.

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