Charts of the Week: Opioid crisis, online learning, women’s representation in US politics

Figure 1. Availability of device for learning by income band

In this week’s edition of Charts of the Week, a look at data from a variety of research topics, including the opioid crisis, inequitable access to online learning during the coronavirus pandemic, and unequal political representation for women in American politics.

The role of despair in the opioid crisis

Optimism about the futureCarol Graham explores the role of despair in the opioid crisis. She shows that poor Black Americans were almost three times as likely to be higher up on an 11-point optimism ladder (0-10 scale) than were poor white people, and poor Hispanics were about one and quarter times more likely to be optimistic. Graham concludes that by “addressing widespread despair and the associated demand side of the opioids story” is essential to understanding the drug addiction and associated deaths in the United States.

Coronavirus school closures reveal unequal access to online learning

Figure 1. Availability of device for learning by income bandVictoria Collis and Emiliana Vegas analyze the concerns that school closures due to the coronavirus disproportionately impact the educational opportunities of the poorest children. “Around 1 in 10 of the poorest children in the U.S. has little or no access to technology for learning,” they write,  and this gap continues when looking at employment and food security status as well. The authors conclude that “policymakers must take decisive steps to prevent the learning gap widening and damaging further the lives of children who are already at a significant disadvantage compared with their peers.”

The US lags on gender equality in politics

Gender equality in politics

In his new essay for 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series, Richard Reeves writes that “the U.S. compares badly to most other countries in the world in terms of gender equality in politics.” One expression of this fact is seen in comparing the United States to Mexico and Canada in terms of legislative (Parliament, Congress), ministerial (cabinet secretaries in the U.S.), and executive (president, prime minister). The chart above compares representation in these areas across the three North American countries. Generally, Reeves notes that “Scoring poorly on all three metrics, the U.S. falls into the bottom half of the global league table for gender equality in the political sphere, trailing behind, for example, the Philippines, India, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.”