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A Lesson Plan for Learning With Our Collection of Inequality Graphs -

A Lesson Plan for Learning With Our Collection of Inequality Graphs


3. The last graph in this section (Graph O) is an image of a “You Draw It” graph that appeared in The New York Times in 2015 and addresses these two questions: How likely is it that children who grow up in very poor families go to college? How about children who grow up in very rich families? Go to the original graph and draw your guess. When you’re done, see how close your line is to the actual graph. How did you do? Were you surprised at all by the actual graph? What does the graph reveal about the answers to those two questions?

Health Inequality Graphs

4. The first graph in this section (Graph P) shows changes in life expectancy for men and women over time, and you may be surprised by what it shows about different income groups. First, answer the same questions from the warm-up. Then, consider the graph’s title “An Expanding Longevity Gap.” What does the title mean, and does the title seem accurate based on what you have observed in the graph?


5. Graph S represents the relationship between smoking and income. Again, use the warm-up questions as a guide to first notice, and then wonder. Next, go to the student discussion we hosted for this graph in our “What’s Going On in This Graph?” feature. Change the “Sort by” setting to “Oldest,” and scroll through a few of the student comments and conversations. Did you pick up any new ideas or information by reading what other students had to say — or by what “Moderator Sharon” from the American Statistical Association (A.S.A.) added? If you are inspired, submit your own thoughts in the comments section.

Coronavirus-Related Inequalities

6. While most of the graphs included in this collection use data taken before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the graphs in this section (Graph V) represent changes during the pandemic. Choose one of the five smaller graphs and then answer the questions from the warm-up. What does the graph that you have selected reveal about changes in inequality during the pandemic?


Option 1: Pick a graph, any graph.

Pick any graph from the collection — either one you already looked at closely, or one that you didn’t — and click on the article link at the bottom of the graph. Read the article and then answer these questions:

  • What does the article reveal about inequality in the United States?

  • What role do the graphs embedded in the article serve? Do they make the article better? If you were the article’s editor, would you have made the decision to include the graphs? Why, or why not?

  • What additional questions do you have after reading the article?

Option 2: “The America We Need”


Many of the graphs included in this collection come from the 2020 Times Opinion series “The America We Need,” which explores how widening gaps in income, wealth and opportunity in the years before the coronavirus pandemic left everyone more vulnerable to the disease.

Read the introductory editorial written by The Times’s Editorial Board, and, while you read, choose three sentences or paragraphs that stand out to you. For each, write a response: Why did this excerpt catch your attention? What did you learn? What questions did it raise for you?

Option 3: Are chief executives paid too much?


In our related Student Opinion question, we invite you to weigh in on the question of whether the gap in compensation between executives and their employees is too wide. To answer the question, you’ll look closely at Graph D and read an article about how C.E.O. pay remains “stratospheric,” even at companies battered by the pandemic.

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