25 February 2011

Americans with(out) passports

This map was posted at Political Language, with these comments:
As with every social statistic applicable to the US there are geographic disparities. I couldn’t find exact figures for states, so I extrapolated zip code-based passport issuance data from the State Department to create a choropleth map of globetrotting & stay-at-home America.

These are very rough calculations, better for comparison than exact figures. There aren’t many surprises. Alaska & Hawaii... weighed in at 44% and 33% respectively, New Jersey was the only state approaching 50%, and West Virginia and Mississippi tied for last place at 13%.
Additional explanation at the link.  Since this was described as a "chloropleth" map, I had to look that up:
A choropleth map (Greek χώρος + πλήθω ("area/region" + "multiply") is a thematic map in which areas are shaded or patterned in proportion to the measurement of the statistical variable being displayed on the map... Choropleth maps are based on statistical data aggregated over previously defined regions (such as counties), in contrast to area-class and isarithmic maps, in which region boundaries are defined by data patterns. Thus, where defined regions are important to a discussion (as in an election map divided by electoral regions), choropleths are preferred...
Technical aspects of the color schemes at Wikipedia.


  1. There was a time before 9-11 when you could get into any country in the western hemisphere using a copy of your birth certificate and a student ID.

    Ah, where have you gone innocent world?

    Anyway, non-passport holding West-Virginian checking in.

    I think this map will roughly line up with a map of income. Most people out here are just struggling to survive. They can't really afford posh European vacations

  2. Over here in the UK, a common "Americans are Philistines" meme is "x% of Americans don't even hold a passport". However throughout the Continental US you have such a huge variety of climates, countrysides and cultures, that it is comparable with much of the differences found throughout Europe.

  3. @anonymous - geographical difference maybe, but there is virtually no diversity in language or even culture, despite the supposed melting pot. Nothing can replace travelling far and frequently.

  4. Yes, traveling gives you rare perspectives on life. But how many Americans really can afford it? Krikkit is right to point out that perhaps poverty level correlates with passport ownership.

    Let's not forget that traveling to a foreign country is expensive--a luxury. The US is large, and just to leave costs a lot. A flight within Europe is relatively inexpensive. Not to mention the extensive train system that allows for easy, inexpensive travel. Americans don't have the option of just jumping on a train to go to another country. For some of us, it costs us tremendously to be able to visit family members who are simply on the other side of the country.

    I have a passport, but I would much rather spend my money to fly to the East Coast to visit my family than to France to--what, see the Louvre? I would love to travel and see other countries, but I'll take family over cultural experiences any day. And that's the choice I have with my limited funds. I could go to France, Austria, or Sweden, but then I would be giving up the opportunity to see my family.

  5. i seriously doubt the suffix of "chloropleth" comes from "πληθαίν:" which is not a word (at least not a complete word) plus it ends in a colon, what actual word does that? the suffix probably comes from an. Greek πλήθω which among other things does mean multiply.

  6. Fixed. Thanks.

    p.s. I also checked "isopleth," for which Wikipedia offers πλήθος as the root word.

  7. hmm... now that you mention it πλήθος might be more appropriate i did some Google searching and found these:




    i thought πλήθω (which is the verbal form of the noun πλήθος) was correct because it is archaic and not used in modern Greek in contrast with πληθύνω which is it's synonym but is still used.

  8. Your comment was slow to be posted because the host computer thought it was spam (?!)

    That Perseus link is quite a nice resource. Σας ευχαριστώ.


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