Our favorite charts of 2016

Nine data visualizations that told dramatic stories over the last year

Here at Chicago Booth Review, we're suckers for the stories that numbers can tell. Like many at Chicago Booth, we have a soft spot for hard data, and we have made it our mission to make that data as visually appealing as it is scientifically powerful.

Click on any thumbnail to jump to the corresponding chart.

In that regard, 2016 has been a banner year: we published more than 80 charts, infographics, tables, and maps over the span of our four print issues, with even more online. They helped us understand everything from how college football success affects academic research to why health-care costs vary so greatly between regions. And though it's said the truth isn't pretty, here are a handful of data visualizations from 2016 that prove facts can be beautiful.

The $100 billion tax dodge

Since 1980, the number of traditional C corporations has fallen, while the number of pass-through businesses—sole proprietorships, S corporations, and partnerships—has risen sharply. The rise has allowed mostly very wealthy individuals to pocket about $100 billion that would have gone toward taxes under traditional corporate structures, according to research by the US Department of the Treasury’s Michael Cooper, John McClelland, James Pearce, Richard Prisinzano, and Joseph Sullivan; University of California, Berkeley’s Danny Yagan; and Chicago Booth’s Owen Zidar and Eric Zwick. Data visualization by Soren Messner-Zidell.

Who gets into the C-suite?

Chicago Booth’s Steve Kaplan and Copenhagen Business School’s Morten Sørensen reviewed more than 2,600 detailed profiles of candidates for CEO, CFO, COO, and other top positions. They then took 30 traits assessed in those candidates' interviews and condensed them into four critical factors that predict who will become a CEO. Data visualization by Kristin Lenz.

A banking battle

Political polarization has been the legacy of the 2007–10 financial crisis, with the debtor-creditor relationship creating deep divides. For instance, public sentiment about renegotiating loans with struggling Greece in 2015 was far different in Germany, which was among the countries most exposed to the threat of Greek default, than it was in less-exposed countries such as France and Britain. Data visualization by Soren Messner-Zidell.

Do banks give credit where credit’s needed?

During the Great Recession, low interest rates and stimulus programs were supposed to get credit to people who would rev up the economy. But research by Sumit Agarwal of the National University of Singapore, Souphala Chomsisengphet of the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Chicago Booth’s Neale Mahoney, and Johannes Stroebel of NYU suggests most of the additional credit went to people who needed it least, and for whom it had the smallest impact on spending. Data visualization by Soren Messner-Zidell.

Slowing down foreclosures can mitigate recessions

Foreclosure laws vary by state and can be divided between those that require lenders to sue borrowers in court before they can sell the foreclosed property—known as judicial foreclosure—and those that don’t. Princeton’s Atif R. Mian, Chicago Booth’s Amir Sufi, and University of British Columbia’s Francesco Trebbi find that judicial foreclosure laws made a substantial difference in the rate of foreclosure in those states that had them during the 2007–10 financial crisis, and they help explain regional differentiation in the severity of the crisis. Data visualization by Jeff Cockrell.

On this chart, larger boxes correspond to higher foreclosure rates per delinquency; dark-blue boxes denote states that require judicial foreclosure. Hover over a box to see that state's specific rate.

LGBT entrepreneur migration

Being LGBT impacts where entrepreneurs choose to start companies, suggests research from Waverly Deutsch and Mary Shea of Chicago Booth and Vivienne Ming and Chris Sinton of StartOut.org. There is a clear migration away from intolerant locales toward states and cities with prodiversity policies, even when those states and cities are more expensive places to live and do business. And for every one average American who relocates, many more entrepreneurs and LGBT entrepreneurs migrate there, taking job creation with them. Data visualization by Jeff Cockrell.

As video slows, viewers’ perception can change

We read more intent into a person’s actions when we see them in slow motion, according to research by Chicago Booth’s Eugene M. Caruso, University of San Francisco’s Zachary C. Burns, and University of Virginia’s Benjamin A. Converse. After watching video of a robbery that ended with a shooting, study participants assessed the shooter’s intentions. Their conclusions varied depending on the speed at which they watched the video. Data visualization by Chuck Burke.

Academic pay dirt

To study the impact of research expenditure on scientific productivity, Harvard’s Haris Tabakovic and Chicago Booth’s Thomas Wollmann look to an unlikely source: the variation in expenditures created by unexpected college football outcomes. A winning team, they find, predictably sells more tickets and merchandise and attracts more donations, and some of that money turns into funding for scientific research. The researchers looked at 40 teams ranked in the Associated Press’s Top 25 college football poll from 1987 to 2011 to see how movement in the polls affected fundraising the following year. Data visualization by Chuck Burke.

Tax evasion across industries

In a study of the magnitude of tax evasion in Greece, UMass Amherst’s Nikolaos Artavanis, University of California at Berkeley’s Adair Morse, and Chicago Booth’s Margarita Tsoutsoura developed a measure of how well income can be traced from industry to industry. They find a weaker paper trail in many industries that see higher amounts of tax-evaded income. Data visualization by Soren Messner-Zidell.