Land of Plenty? State and Regional Variation in Food Insecurity, 2002-2019

Land of Plenty? State and Regional Variation in Food Insecurity, 2002-2019

Food insecure households experience disruptions in the quality and quantity of the household food supply due to a lack of resources. Translation: food insecure households struggle to afford the food they need to feed their family.

I’ve been thinking about state and regional variation in the U.S. For most issues, we can imagine that they will vary by state and region. Oftentimes, however, national level estimates get the limelight. For example, unemployment, poverty, and rates of HIV infection. And I get it: attention spans are short, we all just want that one number that summarizes the issue. What I think happens though, is that variation gets put in the background, and the issue get homogenized.

Here I put state and regional variation in the limelight. I also respect the national perspective, by comparing states to the national average. The challenge was putting all 50 states (and DC!) and the seven regions in one graph. A few things jump out:

  • Rates increased quite a bit during 2008-2010 (the recession).
  • The southeast and southwest tend to have higher rates whereas the mid-Atlantic tends to have lower rates.
  • MS and AR have very high rates whereas ND and NH have very low rates.

This graph was fun to make and I like how you can see changes over time. Overall, I think it does a few things well: 1) Differences between states within a region and general differences between regions are apparent, and 2) Easy to see how states compare to the national average. There are a couple of drawbacks too: 1) Comparing states in different regions is difficult, and 2) Getting exact rates for states is difficult.

Analysis done using using R and RStudio.

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