I saw this graph in a tweet from the Brookings Institution in mid-October and thought there might be a better way to present the data:
— Brookings (@BrookingsInst) October 14, 2017
I think what bugs me most about the graph is that it looks like you should compare the values all the way from left to right. But that’s only partly true. The first pair of columns is for the New owners group in two separate years, 2001 and 2015. The second pair is for All Households. So, really, you should compare the first and second, third and fourth, first and third, or second and fourth columns.
One simple fix would be to do a better job separating the pairs of columns. By adding some white space between the two sets, you can more clearly see there are two groups here.
Another fix would be to create a pair of slope charts. The advantage here is that you can see there two separate groups, and I think you get a better sense of the change between the two years. There are two primary disadvantages here: One, I think it’s a little harder to compare between the two groups. And two, you don’t get the part-to-whole visual as you do with the stacked chart; the slope chart focuses more on the change.
If you have ideas for alternative approaches, please let me know. Here’s an Excel file with the data.