Reducing Child Poverty in California

We partnered with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) to show how child poverty could be reduced by different public policies.

PPIC had conducted research on how changes to housing costs, the minimum wage, and the safety net could reduce child poverty, and wanted to create an interactive tool allowing users to explore the data. We built an embeddable dashboard with the goal of making a large amount of information easy to navigate and interpret:

One early design decision was to present a map and bar chart together, displaying the same information. Choropleth maps are good at showing geographic patterns, but bar charts and line charts are better at communicating the actual data values and the distribution of a dataset. We included a bar chart below the map to allow the user to easily see the distribution of the data and where a selected county ranks relative to other counties:

One consideration was how to set the scales to ensure that the large differences between different policy scenarios would be apparent. For the map, there was a decision not to use quartiles or quintiles, to ensure that the variation among counties was apparent in the colors on the map. For the bar chart, the y-axis remains the same as the user toggles between policy scenarios, so it’s readily apparent which policies have the largest impact on poverty.