Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2015.12.30 edition

Slave sales, drug prices, home loans, satellites, and nine lonely answering machines.

New Orleans slave sales, 1856–1861. A new study in the American Economic Review suggests that slaveholders in the South underestimated the odds of “emancipation without compensation.” To reach its conclusions, researchers compiled a dataset of 15,377 slave sales, culled from remarkably detailed official records. Data for each sale includes demographic information about the slaves, seller, and buyer; the price paid; payment method; and researcher notes.

Medicare’s priciest drugs. Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a new drug-spending dataset. It focuses on medications that (a) cost the most, overall; (b) cost the most per patient; or (c) saw the largest price-hike between 2013 and 2014. Vimovo, an arthritis pain reliever, tops the price-hike rankings: Between 2013 and 2014, the average cost per unit increased more than sixfold, from $1.94 to $12.46. [h/t Virginia Hughes]

Millions of home loans. Over the weekend, the Seattle Times and BuzzFeed News published an investigation into Clayton Homes, a company that is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and that “has grown to dominate virtually every aspect of America’s mobile-home industry.” The investigation draws on data released through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The law requires large lenders to publish details about each of their loans. You can download the raw data from the FFIEC, or slightly user-friendlier versions from the CFPB. [h/t Mike Baker + Dan Wagner]

Every known satellite orbiting Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists’s Satellite Database currently contains 1,305 entries and is updated “roughly quarterly.” The longest-orbiting: AMSAT-OSCAR 7, an amateur radio satellite launched in November 1974. Related: The satellites, visualized. [h/t David Yanofsky]

Things lost (and not yet found) on the New York subway. Among them: 37,622 cellphones; 3,604 hats; 1,903 scarves; 1,017 birth certificates; 483 diaries; 115 VHS tapes; 82 violins; 41 GPS navigation systems; and 9 answering machines. At least one of the 2,756 umbrellas is mine. [h/t Mona Chalabi + Allison McCann + Noah Veltman]