Taro Kuriyama

Mortality Rates

This interactive visualization is based on CDC data of mortality rates in the United States. The data captures selected causes of death by sex, race, and Hispanic origin for a subset of years from 1950-2006.

>> Click on population groups, cause of death, or years to refresh the data. Press the Play button to move through the years.

Built with Processing.js | Data source: Health, United States (CDC 2009 Report, Table 26)


The primary difficulty with visualizing the dataset lies in its multidimensional nature: it is divided by different population groups; it contains a distribution of causes of death within each population group; and each cause of death is a time series. Is there a way to show trends in all three dimensions at the same time?

Bar graphs offer a simple way to show the distribution of different causes of death. To this, the visualization adds a "playable" timeline that captures the trend of a particular cause's incidence over time. At its default state, for example, the visualization shows that while heart disease has been decreasing over time, it remains the most significant killer in the United States in 2006. Playing the animation shows how all incidence rates have changed over time--and relative to each other--within a single population group.

What the visualiation does not capture well is how the population groups compare to each other. Although it is possible to compare different groups by clicking through them manually, inter-group trends are not captured as such. Perhaps ideally, a visualization on mortality rates would be able to show the added effects of sex, race, and population group on baseline mortality rates. (This would require a different dataset as the population groups in the CDC data overlap.)