The punchline is this:

"It's 2021.

The research participants are in their late-30s now, which means they've had plenty of time to shape their own destinies. But we can clearly see that the experiences of their childhood had a huge effect on their financial situation as adults.

It also has an effect on virtually everything else in their lives."

You cannot infer the direction of causality from this data, i.e. that the traumatic experiences themselves cause the poorer outcomes. I remember reading about how in Chicago someone had noticed that kids who did better had more books at home, so they decided to give poor kids books. Certainly not a bad thing to do, but just giving them some books is not going to make them like the better off kids in all of the other (highly correlated) ways that they're different.

Just as an example, one of the traumatic factors they identify is if a kid had witnessed someone being shot. The wealthy kids are way less likely to see anyone get shot, because if people were regularly getting shot in their neighborhood, they would move. The poor kids' parents don't always have that option. In this case it could be the poverty itself, not the shooting that is causing the poor outcomes. But then you get into why the parents are poor in the first place, and there are many causes, but a lot of them get passed down to the next generation in one way or another.

Positive relationships with adults is shown to be means of counteracting adverse childhood experiences.

I volunteer in a local school. It's not always fun, but something has to change.

The visualization will frequently incorrectly show something of the form:

    <--- False     True --->
    True True False False
    True True False False
The conclusion of this data presentation is that so of these people are our collective responsibility, and I just wasn't convinced. I wish they had shown percentages with the visualization. They choose not to.

I was underwhelmed by some points that seemed like they should have been more shocking. Look at the huge number of people in the many adverse experiences category who made it to college, and make a high salary. that was shocking! and look at the people who had no adverse experiences and still managed to end up poor. how does that happen?

I was left with the impression that if the government threw a lot of resources at it we might be able to move a noticeable percentage of those people in a better direction, but not most of them.

The questions that remain are, how many people's lives could we improve and by how much? And, critically, how much are we willing to collectively sacrifice to move that percentage of people in a positive direction?

I like the message, but I feel like this is bad data visualization. The width of each group of people is not the same, so it's somewhat meaningless to visually compare groups without being able to see the raw percentages. For example, the "Many Adverse Experiences" group is stretched to be longer than the other groups so that proportionally fewer people in that group appear to be a larger proportion than the same proportion would be in other groups because they're not as wide.
Just clicking randomly shows a (to me) unexpectedly low age for first sex. If I understand right, the people in here were born in 1984, so they are younger than me (late Gen-X), and i keep hearing that Millennials are having less sex than all previous generations, but these numbers look on the young side. Sampling 11 across cohorts I got a median of 15, which is lower than I found for one all-generations measure I found[1]


Finally got to the end where I can sort by various metrics and found a median of 17/16/15 for low/medium/high ACEs score, which is slightly closer to what I expected.

Also reading the "millennials are having less sex" articles, they mostly focus on people born in the early '90s, so the tail-end of millennials.


I was Alex (my name is not Alex). Graduated high school in 97, but with a 2.1 GPA (yeah, pretty bad). Went to community college while working part time, living in a 'separated' household (mom/dad did the splits), supported both my parents both emotionally and financially (as much as I could) through their transition and new living arrangements. We were all immigrants, and still learning the ropes in this wonderful country. I did not graduate college, but instead went the part-time/apprenticeship/gain-experience route, while going through many roles. My baseline was to be a good citizen. A good son, a good partner, good friend, good husband and a good dad (4 wonderful kids). There were many good times, but also sad times, including when we lost our house and cars (2008), and that month when we literally didn't have money for food... but this country gives you many opportunities. There are safety nets, use them! You just have to focus on the goal: Move forward! There is always someone else who needs more help than you. Stay the course, and try not to lose perspective.

I'm one of the luckiest people alive because I live in this country, and was always able to surround myself with supportive, positive and forward thinkers.

I don't know why I shared this. Maybe because I don't care to blame society for my adverse experiences. Through those experiences, I learned to lead. I learned to listen. I learned to value and appreciate. I learned to live.

Not to distract from the important content of this piece - which I simply can't devote any attention to in the middle of my workday, lest I ruminate for the next few hours - but for those interested in its development, here's a dev diary:
For a different approach on the socio-economic background's influence on growing up (and eventually growing old), check out the very interesting "Up Series" [0].

It's a British documentary series that starts out with interviews with kids at age 7 from different backgrounds, and then interviews the same group of people every 7 years (14 Up, 21 Up, you get the idea). They've come to "63 Up" so far.


One thing that jumps out is that being held back in school is one of the "adverse experiences" that will cause poor performance later. But of course being held back in school is what happens when your school performance is poor, so this seems backward. All of these things just seem to be proxies for "your parents are rich".
Apparently GPA distribution is less affected by adverse experiences. So doing college admissions based on GPA sounds more fair than affirmative action. Some people from disadvantaged groups also say they would rather be admitted on merit alone because it is more reliable in the long run, but they don't get this choice.
What's missing here -- and in most of social sciences -- is the realization that adverse events is itself a product of genetics, and bad social outcomes are only weakly mediated through those events. Genetics is most of the story here and, although it's a depressing narrative, I'm sick of seeing people push a narrative that is not based on facts.
I watched the video. Maybe I am not understanding the visuals, but it looked like the narrator's conclusions do not actually match the data. He is trying to make an argument that poor kids need extra help or they will have a rough life. But the data seems to show that over the last 20 years, people from all background types are likely to experience bad things.

Granted the last 20 years has been pretty awful, with 9/11, various wars, and other things. So I'm not really sure if I can take anything away from the video.

The data visualization is fun, but the conclusion has exactly the same problem as the studies it links to: it's an analysis of a previous survey, with no experimental interventions, and as such is only measuring a correlation, with the causality being an asspull. In reality, every idealistic explanation of why these things happen gets shot down by RCTs or twin studies.
The presentation argues that the adverse experiences cited are outside the individual's control, some of them are and they can have negative effects, i agree, like gun violence or uninterested parents, but others are questionable, like suspensions or being held back in school, which is (in most part) derived directly from the individual's actions.

Since the margins in some of the statistics are so small i wonder how would they look with the adverse experiences ignoring this 2 points.

For me it is obvious that a person who was held back in school and received suspensions will be less likely to be well off when they are older.

Anyone else notice how those with the most adverse experiences were both more likely to be depressed and more likely to be happy "all of the time" for the past month?

Is this a flaw in the data? What is the causal explanation for this?

The format is very creative and technically impressive. I don't want to launch into criticisms without acknowledging that.

However, I find myself underwhelmed, for a few reasons.

- It's hard to compare the different cohorts, because of the different widths.

- The definition of "adverse experiences" seems too limited in scope of what's counted, leading to small numbers and small differentiation between the cohorts.

- The biggest difference appears to be "no adverse experiences" vs everyone else, but I think the narrative describes other things.

- Somehow, the viceral differences in experience between folks who come from healthy, happy, wealthy families and those that don't feel kind of flattened.

I'm deeply concerned for social justice and equity of opportunities. I'm sure the underlying research of this longitudinal study is fascinating. I just think that the execution of this summary misses the mark a bit.

This data seems suspect. Three "some adverse experience" and four "many adverse experiences" individual all report a most recent annual income of exactly $380,288? That seems highly unlikely, and if that is a data error there are likely others.
Has anyone done anything like this for historical time periods? I realize the data is inherently sparse, but I'd be curious to see what the results would look like in 1900, 1800, 1700, 1600, etc.

My impression of the data is that, actually, we're doing pretty well with social mobility. Not perfectly by any means, and there is lots of room to improve. But as compared to (I think) just about any historical period, I think the graphs would be even more skewed. I'm fairly certain that as a medieval peasant, there were basically no viable routes to improving your lot (and even the word "lot" betrays the assumptions of the time), and so acceptance was the only viable route (violent rebellions excepted).

Very cool site, however... takeaway is a little different than what is in the commentary box (for the year 2017 in particular). The distribution of incomes don't actually look that different, to my eye.

If this is the grand reveal -- showing that childhood heavily influences future financial mobility -- it's not super obvious. I mean, yes, there seem to be a bit of a skew towards low earners in the bottom tranche -- but really it looks like the group that has had some astounding headwinds is kinda sorta doing about the same as the 'no adverse experiences' group? That is amazing as well!

It'd be nice to be able to get to the underlying data more easily, and drill into see the statistical conclusions. The horizontal bands not being of even length doesn't help either.

Edit: I don't think I was correctly taking into account the "no data" group, which makes the skew much more obvious (that the "many adverse experience" group has substantially lower earning power). I wish that the horizontal groups were of the same length, and the "no data" group was simply removed. I think that would make a transformative difference in terms of actually being able to understand this visually and intuitively.

Edit 2: Also how amazing is it that this study got done! The link to the study is very hard to find on this site, and also is wrong. The correct link (I think anyway) is

Kind of cool, but the conclusion was completely backwards.

The final line of the study was "So he is our collective responsibility. They all are.", but the entire study was about how the home environment affects your outcomes. I guess their conclusion is that if an individual does a bad job raising their kids, it is societies fault.

Hey Alvin (the author), you see us discussing this, how about addressing the issues raised in this discussion?

>So this piece is now at the top of @hackernews. This experience is always cool and terrifying, especially when they also see all the small things that don't quite work about the piece.

>>> He'll be bullied at school. He'll be held back a few grades. He won't go to college.

I dont even know where to start with this.

1. The whole anti bullying campaign that we now have two and a half decades of in schools has backfired spectacularly. This feels like "well DARE didn't work, we need to put this money somewhere else". We tell kids dont bully people, but if you defend yourself in a fight everyone gets suspended because of zero tolerance... it is obscene.

2. College? Really? We stripped schools of anything that was vocational, or practical. What happened to shop and home economics... and the computer labs that got many of us started are long gone. Meanwhile we're short on plumbers, welders and all sorts of middle skill jobs...

Note: that there are now middle skill jobs (trained professionals but not college) that not only make more than those with degrees, they will do better over the course of their life because they dont have massive debt.

Alex has a shitty home life, but we under fund public schools and then rob kids for college (and we dont need more college grads).

Visualization was confusing and I don't think the narrative matches the data being shown. Differences between groups were way less dramatic in the visuals than the narration suggests. The differences could just be statistical noise for all we know.
"This is a US teenager". Wouldn't be hard to add that right? We're not all american on the internet.
I'm assuming this is a US study, I wish it said that, because these days the internet has an international audience.
>But in 2022, the average cost for first-time college students living in campus was $36,000 – nearly $10,000 higher than a decade prior. It's made college inaccessible for kids who need it most.

College kids do not need to live on campus, most people in this country live within commuting distance of a community college or university. It may not be a top rated university, but it will always be one that teaches skills kids need to build a life. You do not NEED to pay anywhere near $36,000 for college, and stating it as a necessity is misleading. The point that the author misses is that the subject, Alex, would have easily qualified for free tuition at his local community college or university, and most likely a scholarship or grant would have paid his living expenses while attending as well, based solely on his economic and ethnic background and not his grades. The only missing piece was someone to tell him how to do it, or someone to encourage him to do it. This is generally what people mean when they say that poor people lack the knowledge to get themselves out of poverty.

>Over the last few years, his annual income was around $20,000. He has struggled with his weight for much of his adult life, and it affects his overall health.

It is worth noting that the poorest in the USA struggle with eating too much, not too little. This is at least a silver lining that we should not ignore. Many countries in the world, poor people are starving.

>In one year, the US will elect Donald Trump as president – a man who constantly insults poor people and calls them "morons."

As part of this paragraph, the author links to an extremely partisan article which does not even try to hide its bias. It quotes something that Donald Trump said back in a 1999 interview. I don't love Trump and wouldn't vote for him, but I think the author's point about him is stretched quite a bit and was unnecessary for the overall point he's trying to make.

In the end, the main takeaway from this article seems to me to be that you can justify any bad decisions or bad outcomes in your life by blaming your childhood trauma. With such a worldview how can one ever better themselves? It seems such a self-defeating way to look at things, if you never blame yourself for your bad decisions how can you ever learn how to make better decisions?

I know that if I personally lived my life blaming my childhood trauma for problems I've had, that I would still be poor to this day.

I read this, and I'm shocked at the number of people who seem to make it through life with no adverse experiences. And I also note how by almost every measure, there is a similar ratio of people with adverse experiences who are found at every level. Life is hard. I used to think that it's hard for a majority of people. But this article has convinced me that quite a lot of people have relatively easy lives, which, as someone who had my fair share of adverse experiences, I think is wonderful.
“ The world we've built has shaped his life.

So he is our collective responsibility. They all are.”

I don’t understand how it’s our responsibility that he is “sometimes depressed”. I didn’t make him not study.

An interesting silver lining is that reported happiness (shown near the end) seems to be inversely related to all of the other negative effects. At least from first glance at the data.
Everything this is based on is subject to absolutely massive genetic confounds.

How you're raised is who your parents are, except for when it isn't.

Which is why we have adoption studies. Which strongly indicate that it's who your parents are, not how you're raised, which is more determinative of outcomes. Is it a mixture of factor? Yes, but the dominant component is clear. A study like this focuses on the minor component and presumes that it's causal. That is unlikely to be the case.

Regarding low-income as a result of adverse childhood experiences. This ignores the fact that some jobs just don't pay a lot, and even if everyone had super-duper childhood, some portion of those people would still end up working minimum-wage jobs - because somebody has to do them. The way our economy works is just stack-ranking, but at a nation-wide scale. In consequence, if you help one teenager, you'll lift them further the bottom of the stack - at the expense of everyone else who they've surpassed thanks to your help. Another corollary is that, if we want people to not have low incomes, we need to change how our society functions (as say Scandinavians did it, with very high minimum wage), as helping individuals will not matter that much. The one effect helping individuals has is making them more efficient and better adjusted to the economy, so that maybe they'll be slightly better waiters or burger flippers, which produces slighly more GDP for the nation to spread via welfare state policies - but, for simplest jobs, that effect can't be huge.
Semi-related: often astounded by what can be achieved with HTML5 canvas.
This is wonderful in a lot of ways but also seems to be designed to annoy HN specifically. With its somewhat, um, adventurous choices in data visualization combined with an overall conceit that poverty is harmful and kids are not the ones to blame... It's like a dangerous cocktail. I could read this thread in my head probably!
The layout of the data being poor and accuracy issues called out, while rightly, don't really engage with the narrative.

This infographic talks about the economic outcomes, but there are also major health outcomes like early death, mental health issues that this doesn't approach. I think in a way it takes away from the core ideas of the impact of ACE's, which Everyone should absolutely know about. There IS a direct causal link from ACE's to poor life outcomes, and here is some reading on that:

One thing I've been curious about but can never tell from the no/some/4yr+ income breakdown they always do is how trades like mechanics, electricians, welders, and plumbers actually do. Which box are they in? Do they make no degree multi-modal, or even more skewed to poverty than we think?
As others have mentioned this site heavily implies causality with statements like "we can clearly see that the experiences of their childhood had a huge effect" and "college or technical school can mitigate some of the effects of adverse childhood experiences". It is simply not possible to draw such conclusions from a longitudinal study. Interventions and actual experiments are necessary.

The site is really nicely done and even moving, but I find the ideas it is putting forth harmful honestly. We all would like to see better outcomes for teenagers, but if that is truly our goal we should not be shaping public policy around non-scientific observations on correlations. Let's do some actual science please and build policy around that.

It is odd that they don’t normalize the width of the dozens of 3 cohort graphs. Apparently in order to show fully filled rows.

But it dramatically blunts the visual clarity of comparison between the differing percentages in each cohort associated with better and worse outcomes.

you can find out your ACE score online easily. It is 10 questions. A lot of folks commenting are getting stuck on poverty. Even folks in higher socioeconomic categories can have high ACE scores; poverty is only part of an ACE score. What is wild is the relationship to health as it ties to ACE scores.

I found a lot of value reading The Deepest Well by Dr. Burke Harris. She notices that some of her patients are having strange health issues and then she realizes that these strange health issues can be tied to their ACE scores. Issues include epigenetic changes and immune system dysfunctions among many others. She advocates for early ACE screening to help address issues as early as possible.

This girl was unlucky, she got hit a few times when she was young. By mum, by "friends", bullied in kindergarden and bullied and bossed in school and when it looked like it would all be okay, the parents divorced. She felt like she's not good enough for this world, but eventually she found out she had been depressed for 25 year and blessed/cursed with adhd. When she fixed her diet, it all turned around and she got her first stable income at 37 and went up the ladder a bit. She happy? No. Happiness is for others. Today it's enough to not suffer too much.
How about if we control for IQ?
Sorry for the meta-commentary, but I don’t think it warrants its own post: wow the Overton window has shifted right on HN. I’ve noticed it with other comment threads but this one drives it home. Not good for discourse.
Am I supposed to see more than one teenager at the point where the narrative suggests I can? I only see one as I'm scrolling through. Firefox 120.0.1


I scrolled all the way to the top and then back down and it seems to have resolved the issue.

Lots of discussion about the conclusions relating childhood trauma to adult outcomes. One intermediate comment that struck me was the idea of college as a temporal/physical space for necessary growth in the 18-20s age range. I need to ponder more about this.

BUT, it struck me that one of the outcomes of the pandemic was the recognition that a major function of school for kids is childcare (as opposed to learning), and it’s funny to imagine college as the modern equivalent for older “kids”.

"Being held back" or grade retention is rare for high school students (teenagers), so rare that it is hard to find a study on it. RAND studied middle school and elementary school retention and found only some smallish negative effects.

Most middle\high school grade retention I see these days is self-imposed for an advantage in athletics; don't get me started.

The thing I took away from this, and seemed more than just a slight increase for one of the categories, was that people with zero adverse experiences are very rarely ‘happy all the time’.
It sure appeared that on a percentage basis, the difference in outcomes between the 3 identified groups, wasn't that significant. Or maybe it was just a poor visualization of the data.
I couldn't really understand the annual income being so low on the about 20 persons I clicked on.

It was between $50 to $1700 annually. Was that the income when they were 13 years old?

I'm not sure if it was just me, but I struggled with the visual style. In some groups there were more rows than others, but then the rows would be of different lengths, making it difficult to intuitively compare the population sizes, especially when trying to break them down by color coding.

It felt like the "some adverse experiences" group was worse off than the "many adverse experiences" group, which I'm guessing is incorrect.

The chart titled "Percentage of people 25 to 29 years old with a bachelor's degree" is just wrong. Looking at their own source, NCES, in 2010 this was 32%, while their graph seem to show around 70%:

I don't know why they concentrated on college alone. For a lot of people, learning a trade like welding, carpentry, plumbing, auto maintenance, etc. is worth a lot more than going to college. They _can_ make a good living learning a trade. We should be looking more at sending the poorer kids to trade schools. Plus, working with your hands and building stuff is a mood-uplifter.
The page opens.

Title appears.

I start scrolling.

Nothing happens.

I scroll and I scroll but the page doesn't budge. I come to my senses: "aha, I get it! For the last few minutes I've been aimlessly scrolling in search of content and all the people around me in the train must have seen me do it with the same crooked posture and lifeless expression of a modern day teenager on their phone! This is me, the teenager! I have been the victim of a piece of performance art!"

Then I realized it simply doesn't work properly on my phone's Chrome...

> Then we turn 18 and we're expected to be "adults" and figure things out. If we fail, we are punished. ... The world we've built has shaped his life.

This is a powerful message. A cynical (mostly realistic) outlook is that we are powerless pawns at the mercy of the powerful (read rich) in the world whose actions are ultimately reasons for blaming the powerless.

> College isn't just a place that teaches you how to do a job; it's also a safe, structured, and productive environment for people to continue growing up – and to fend off adulthood for a bit.

This is actually a problem.

> in developed countries, there is an era between ages 18 and 25 when we collectively agree to let people explore the world and figure out what role they want to have in it. He calls it "emerging adulthood". And college is an environment built for emerging adults – a place where kids can leave their family environment and finally have a chance to independently shape their futures.

This is a wholly inaccurate description of college.

It seems to me a lot of this is caused by inflation making it very hard for people struggling econimically, and the fall out effects of that for all society. Stop develuing the dollars people use by printing money and maybe some chunk of this goes away over time when people can enjoy the dividend of a productive society.
Worst visualization ever for a study about obvious correlations (that are misrepresented as a result of the poor display of data).
In case the author swings by - I think the presentation of this is really cool. The sprites bring it to life as they hurry around the screen! The way Alex bookends the walkthrough of the data is clever as well, and I felt the return to him at the end was quite evocative. Nice work!
“Ultimately, initial conditions matter”

Whoa. Mind blown. Worth the infinite scroll and meandering presentation.

Condescending and pearl clutching read. I used the military to escape. Life’s tough, navel gazing and pushing college doesn’t help in the vast majority of cases. Everyone has adverse things happen, but not everyone makes the choice to start finding solutions.

It might be me not getting it but all the charts seemed to have roughly the same percentage of people across the different types, given some small wiggle room.

It was never an obvious impact.

Am I getting it wrong or is it a tiny change that statistically is significant at huge scales of population?

On the section for gun violence, it says "And these are the kids who witnessed gun violence", but the title says "See someone shot with gun". I'm curious which it is since gun violence encompasses things other than seeing someone shot.
The problem with 1) blaming early trauma on all outcomes and 2) saying it's out responsibility to support them, is that it sends a poor signal about personal responsibility. What kind of society would be created if we sent that message?
age of first sex? n/a. age of the first of a long series of rejections from the opposite sex was quite a young age.

I guess we all have our own positive and negative deviations from the mean across different aspects of life's 'expected' outcomes.

This should be the measure of our country, rather than the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Incidentally, rehabilitating these traumatized kids-turned-adults would probably have profound positive impacts on the economy (since that's all Jamie Dimon and friends care about).

I am familiar with this documentary. The current presentation style is quite spectacular.
Probably an unimportant detail, but the "weights today" are strangely low and seemingly unrepresentative of the general US population. A VERY strangely high percentage between 90lbs and 120lbs, and very few over 200lbs.
I think in Europe no one holds back in the grades, school will push a kid forward.

When I was a kid they did hold kids and they were usually worst bullies and bad influences.

Wonder if it still the case in US or “Alex” would be born somewhere 1990ish or earlier?

We really do love[1]- I'd never bothered to go look at what it's actually all about till today, and you should too if you've not, because it wasn't exactly as I expected: - these people seem great, we should probably support them. I noticed they have a Patreon if you're feeling generous[2].



Poverty is expensive.

I’m about to be 40 and I finally feel like my family has escaped it.

Watching the video And looking at the visualisation rather than the voiceover, I’m surprised that having more adverse experiences in childhood doesn’t have A more significant effect on the adults.
This is fascinating. Also kind of helps explain why my experiences aren’t relatable to the people I work with as they (mostly).

This is my peer group too!

So cool to see how our experiences shape us. For better or worse.

In general, it can be said that traumatic events in childhood are likely to impact your adult life... And they will have a negative impact.
This depiction actually slowed me the issue was much more subtle and less severe than I thought.. I thought it would have been much worse. I don't think that was their intent!
Great site. However, I think there's much more interesting things one could visualize from the same dataset.

I'll go out on a limb (these days?) and say that nothing is more influential when growing up than what your parents teach you. That alone transcends all other negative/positive effects considered (health, income, "have you seen someone getting shot", ...).

I see the study does account for parents present or not but I would've liked to read a similar story in which this is the categorical control.

The other one "classic" correlation of interest is race vs. all the other variables, but I can understand why they didn't want to initiate yet another flamewar.

The visualization works poorly on my phone, basically unusable.
Maybe I missed something but the adverse experience factor didn't seem to be very meaningful. Not convinced by their argument.

Great title and initial presentation though!

Crashes my browser.
I feel like this is trying to tell me something really important but the data visualization crashed my browser multiple times.
The data is really interestingly presented!
This website is neat, but please keep in mind that you cannot establish causation from an observational study.
Poverty and abuse is a cloud that very few people can see through. Normal people try to help but often make it worse.
Study is great and all but how would it work when corrupted by an event like the pandemic lockdown.
The color scheme is terrible. Salmon, plum, light purple, medium purple, dark purple, and grey?
Hey! Teacher! Leave the kids alone!
Every single one I clicked on said they weren't in college or work. Is it bugged?
To respond to a lot of these ridiculous responses here:

The answer to this is that we should optimise society towards less inequality. It is our collective responsibility because the privileged people who have disproportionally better results do so BECAUSE systems of inequality that keep wealth in certain areas of society exist. This doesn't mean you didn't work hard, obviously.

The evening out of such inequalities require much more radical policies than stuff like affirmitive action. We need things that address the root of the issues with how our society works. Nobody is willing to do that.

But yeah, its not the fault of the parents alone. I'm sorry that's some incredibly neoliberal individualist bullshit. There are so many factors listed here that poorer parents cannot sheild their kids from. They cannot live in a nicer place that they can't afford. They cannot just stop having chronic illness at a higher rate because of their own disadvantaged lives. Etc etc.

Everyone should take responsibility over their own life and do as much as they can to not let anything hold them back, just for the sake of their personal happiness at least. However, saying that does not then abdicate us from our other responsibility to make the world a better place. Telling people to work hard does not make societal factors go away.

"Don't feel like scrolling? Watch the video instead!"

Please add a TL;DR here as well. Some of us never want to watch the video instead.

Is it just me or does this visualization show that things aren't actually that bad? And that adverse experiences don't have that much of an impact on outcomes?
Right away, I was struck by the early chart "Parenting style" which shows about 75% with "Two parents uninvolved". Pardon my language: What the fuck does that even mean? I call bullshit. The whole article is nothing more than typical doomerism that spikes the reader's emotions with clickbait.

Another one from "Household income vs. poverty line":

    > And a lot of kids are growing up extremely poor – which, in and of itself, can be traumatic.
Here, the phrase "a lot" is absolutely an editorial phrase. It would be more clear and less emotional to use a percent value. Instead, they chose the clickbait route. Interestingly, they chose the term "extremely poor", but their own chart does not use it, nor include a definition of it. The lowest income category simply says "In poverty". In past discussions about poverty, many people on HN have shared their personal poverty experiences and the range of poverty. You can be right at the poverty line, but making ends meet. Or you can be deep in poverty, struggling terribly. Again, the article fails to provide necessary nuance.
Parents and family are so important to a child's growth.
Life seems to be a crapshoot for most people. Most people seem to be born into families not adequately equipped to raise children, and the ones that succeed and survive seem to do so despite what they missed out on, developing elaborate coping strategies that survive on into adulthood, which ironically, can lead to more underserved children.

Few seem fortunate enough to find a time to "pause" in their lives, examine what deep seeded issues they have developed from the process of surviving childhood, and finding and embarking on a path to a more balanced and mature, "adult" life.

But hey, it might be a sampling bias. I also imagine there is a silent majority of well adjusted people that don't show up on the internet or the news, projecting themselves all over everyone and everything within their reach.

What a cool visualization!

... of a fairly mundane data set.

If anything, I am shocked by how much the data between the groups evened out over time. The differences in "adverse experiences" started out so stark, but almost seemed to disappear by 2021, especially in categories like happiness and wealth. I would hate the be the researched who followed this for 20 years just to find nothing particularly interesting.

> "If we fail, we are punished. We are blamed for not going to college, for being unhealthy, for being poor, for not being able to afford healthcare and food and housing."

Not sure if the author and I are looking at the same data set. If anything, it's saying the opposite to me - the difference between a terrible childhood and a perfect childhood results in some barely perceivable differences by the time you are 27.

The quote saying that people from 18 to 25 need a safe environment to "explore the world" and "find their purpose" seems very infantile and backward.

First off, it's not realistic at scale and presents a very sheltered worldview. Majority of worlds workforce is between those ages and no automation, nor AI will change this.

Second, even in the first world it's backward because you can also explore the world and find your purpose while working, infact working will teach you much more about the world than any college and you can always decide to get education when you're more mature and better off financially.

Its confusing and hard to make comparisons when the length of the rows is different for each group. It seems disingenuous.

Cool website though, kudos to the author.

Yeah, lots of people are traumatized. Lots of people have seen close friends or family members get killed... some have been sexually exploited... I'm not sure the answer is for them to get a degree in communications.

And furthermore, what actually is stopping them from getting a college degree if they so choose? The price. What is driving up the price?

Beautiful evidence.
> Hono - [炎] means flame in Japanese

oh, cool! that must mean, because of all those volcanos, that Honolulu means...

> From Hawaiian Honolulu, from hono (“bay, harbor”), cognate with Maori whanga, + lulu (“shelter”), from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian duŋduŋ (“sheltered”).*

ok, nope. "fire shelter" would have been pretty cool tho.

I'd like to share some of my experiences on this topic.

Growing up, I faced several adversities. My parents divorced when I was young, and I lived with my mother until the age of 13. Unfortunately, my mother struggled with alcoholism, often bringing friends over, even during my early school years. However, in hindsight, I believe she deeply missed my father and coped with her pain through drinking. Despite her struggles, I know she loved me.

Life became even more challenging when my stepfather entered the picture. I endured multiple school absences due to injuries like broken noses and ribs. Eventually, I reached a breaking point and called my real father, expressing my desire to live with him. One day, I left my mother's home and never returned.

Transitioning to life with my father brought new dynamics, including a stepmother and stepbrother. While our financial situation improved, a different form of abuse emerged, one that was emotional and insidious. I often found myself unfairly blamed and punished for things I hadn't done. Despite evidence implicating my stepbrother, I was consistently scapegoated. To extended family and relatives, I became the problem child, while my stepbrother was seen as an angel. My stepmother's behavior shifted when my father was present, exacerbating the emotional turmoil.

My academic performance suffered, contrasting sharply with my previous success under my mother's care. I developed a video game addiction, became extremely thin and struggled with dissociative identity disorder, challenges that persisted into my university years and adulthood.

Despite graduating with a GPA of 2.7 and needing an extra year to complete university, I was able to secure a job, thanks to the kindness of the people I met during an internship. I faced numerous exam retakes due to heavy gaming. Financial stability, facilitated by my father, spared me from experiencing poverty and enabled my education. Now, at 26, I'm married with a baby on the way in May. I'm determined to provide unwavering love and support to my child and wife, drawing from my own experiences of feeling blamed and unloved.

Reflecting on my past, I regret leaving my mother's home. A mother's love is irreplaceable, transcending monetary value. However, I don't blame anyone except myself. In conclusion, I might have been an unlikable and unlovable brat, often inciting displeasure and animosity. On top of that, loving a stepchild is undoubtedly challenging. Yet, I believe that surviving abuse and adversity can catalyze personal growth in ways we may not immediately perceive. Most importantly, it's crucial to have someone who loves you, whether it's a significant other, partner, or friend, especially if you're unable to find that love and support within your own home.

Very cool, clever and intuitive data presentation, this probably the way forward of effectively publishing research findings and help empower those who are not keen on reading research data (e.g policy makers). I will be very interested to see their workflow on how the data transformation from papers to what we see here, and this can be a game changer in publishing research results and findings.

Those who are designing computer based GUI, graphics, dashboard can learn a lot from this animation and interactive with timeline/frequency approach (soon someone will coin a this a special term e.g gamification, etc) because this is how we can optimize the brain to process its data for optimum users' usability. Deep learning AI has shown impressive results values in mimicking the brain functionality based on the human cognition and brain neurology and it is about time the user interface aspect get the same treatment. Excellent books like Designing with the Mind in Mind can be a good guiding principle based on human cognition for effective and intuitive user interface [1].

For the research presented by data it is kind of plain obvious that your childhood upbringing and experiences shape and affect your adult world significantly and considerably. Imagine children from war torned countries that experienced extreme adversity at some point of their life like Vietnam and the latest Ukraine people who witnessed not only gun violences but also all out war (e.g bombs, war machinery, jet fighter) with extreme insecurity food depreciation, malnutrition, etc will be several more times badly affected compared to these children reported in the study that are primarily based on developed and stable countries. Then imagine people who are residing in a continously intermittent conflicts/wars and oppressed regions (without a valid country) for example Palestine people that experienced the injustices and atrocities happening over several generations not years, badly affecting the childrens with family member's and friends got killed prematurely, and some with no parents or worst dependents left.

To think that how the people of the world ever allow, tolerate and even sponsoring the prepetrators of the oppression and injustice is beyond me. I think the only solace for these people in the region is that hopefully there will be easiness after hardship, and there will be justice sooner or later, here in this world or hereafter [2]. These are the sentences that really caught my attention, they say they are the peacemakers, but in rwality they are the real troublemakers or the root cause of the very problems and atrocities [3].

[1]Designing with the Mind in Mind:


5 - So, surely with hardship comes ease.

6 - Surely with that hardship comes more ease


11 - When they are told, “Do not spread corruption in the land,” they reply, “We are only peace-makers!”

12 - Indeed, it is they who are the corruptors, but they fail to perceive it.

> College isn't just a place that teaches you how to do a job

Sorry, what? This statement feels like the exception, not the norm for most people who have attended college.

My biggest takeaway is that they nowhere address address the fact that correlation is not necessarily causation. Yes, our childhood affects who we become. But it is not the only thing that affects it. For example

Two giant factors come to mind. Genetics and racism.

Consider one genetic factor. I have ADHD. That means that it is extremely likely that one or both of my parents had ADHD. (My father, certainly. My mother, maybe. She certainly had a genetic propensity for depression that her children struggle with.) This resulted in an unstable family home. Unsurprisingly this resulted in me falling into their adverse environment category. As an adult I've done reasonably well. But yes, my challenges have affected my children. But were those challenges because I grew up with horrible problems? Or was it because I have a well-known genetic condition that causes challenges?

On genetics, I highly recommend GWAS studies can only tease out genetic correlations for European Caucasians. Part of that is that they can only be done with a lot of data from somewhat related people. And part of that is that with Caucasians it is reasonable to assume that bad results are due to personal characteristics, and not racism.

But we can do it for Caucasians. And so we can know for Caucasians that the impact of genetics is about as strong as the impact of socioeconomic status. We can also separate the effects of things like the effect of when you first had sex from the genetics that make you first have sex early or late. That one is fun, because it turns out that the genetics matters a lot, and when you first did it only matters because it is correlated with your genetics. We can look at the impact of reading to kids. Yeah, that's pretty much genetics as well. We put a lot of effort into getting kids read to more, and didn't get demonstrable results for it.

So you see, understanding the impact of genetics is very important for what public policies are likely to work. They tell a great just-so story. But I'm not convinced.

Moving on, what about racism? They trace the story of Alex. Hispanic. He had a terrible upbringing. Which could be caused by the impact of racism on his family. He had a terrible adulthood. Which could be caused by the impact of racism on him. He's just as good an example for "racism sucks" as he is for "adverse childhood sucks". Which is it? We don't know. What should we do about it? That's still an open question!

And finally, let's look at personal responsibility. I don't agree with condemning poor people for being poor. But suppose you are born in whatever circumstances, with whatever genetics. What's the best way to improve your life? Judging from my experiences and understanding of human nature, it is to encourage an attitude of personal responsibility. Don't worry too much about what's outside of your control. Focus only on what's in your control, and try to do the best that you can.

Ironically, this matters more when the deck is stacked against you. If you have family background and racism are holding you back, you can't afford the third strike of a self-destructive attitude. But if your background and race give you resources, your attitude probably doesn't hurt you as badly.

Does "personal responsibility" make for a good social policy? No. But should we encourage people to individually embrace it? Absolutely!

I strongly disagree with their cavalier dismissal of the idea.

I don't like the victim mentality of the message.
"Bachelor's degrees have become essential for well-paid jobs in the US."

The lies we continue to allow ourselves to tell as a society.

I don't want to be that guy, here's a nice summary of what you missed, since the creator is so inconsiderate when it comes to accessibility:

The video introduces us to Alex, a 13-year-old in 1997, who is Hispanic and living with his dad and stepmom. At this point in his life, Alex's family has a net worth of just $2,000, and his parents are not particularly supportive or involved in his life. Despite these challenges, Alex expresses a sense of optimism about his future. This optimism is shared by many teenagers, as evidenced by a survey from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which includes 9,000 participants followed from their adolescent years into adulthood.

The video then shifts to highlight the importance of childhood experiences, as research by Vincent Fidi published in 1998 would later reveal. This research indicates that traumatic and stressful events during childhood can have profound, lifelong effects on an individual's health, relationships, financial security, and overall well-being. The video follows 400 of these survey participants, focusing on those with uninvolved parents, those who have been bullied, and those growing up in risky home environments. It tracks adverse experiences such as parental drug use, being held back or suspended from school, and witnessing violence.

By 2001, the participants are in their senior year of high school. The video examines the adverse experiences these students have faced, noting that Black and Hispanic youths are disproportionately represented among those who have experienced multiple negative events. These experiences often correlate with academic performance; students who face more adversity tend to struggle more in the classroom. The video also introduces the concept of "emerging adulthood" as a period between childhood and adulthood, during which college can provide a supportive environment for young adults to navigate this transition.

By 2010, some participants have completed a four-year college degree, with a clear trend showing that those who had fewer adverse experiences in childhood are more likely to have attended college. The video also highlights the financial struggles of those from less privileged backgrounds, many of whom are still grappling with the economic implications of their challenging upbringings.

In 2021, the long-term impact of childhood adversity is starkly evident. The participants' life outcomes, including income levels, health issues, and overall happiness, show a direct correlation with the adverse experiences they faced as children. Alex, whose story we have followed, is now 37 years old, living with his partner and two kids. He has struggled with his weight and health throughout his adult life, and his annual income remains around $20,000. The video concludes by emphasizing that the circumstances of our youth significantly shape our lives and that systemic factors play a significant role in individual outcomes. It calls into question the blame placed on individuals for their life circumstances and suggests that the collective responsibility to support young people is essential for breaking cycles of adversity.

> In one year, the US will elect Donald Trump as president – a man who constantly insults poor people and calls them "morons."

This is blatantly false and yet for no reason at all is embedded here. It makes it harder to trust the author for everything else when they do stuff like this. “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is clearly much more than just a meme.

It's hard to take the Western world seriously. There was a guy on Reddit who lamented how so many Americans live in their cars, unlike Indians or Chinese. The 15th percentile in India puts one at 10k INR / year apparently and this constant woe and gloom in the US does not have a counterpart.

It would seem that some degree of thriving requires striving. The median person here has an iPhone - a luxury device. Here, the cultural belief is that if some other guy is richer than you, he cheated his way there. And you should steal from him. And the relentless woe is me whining about normal life.

"We were the first generation who had to live through 9/11 and a pandemic and the global financial crisis!"

Bro, in the '90s India was testing nuclear weapons and Pakistan had them and the possibility that two nuclear armed nations would go to war was real. There were massive genocides. The Gulf War. The President was impeached. The Unabomber. The LA Riots. In the '80, the AIDS pandemic was getting known and it wouldn't be handled for 30 years! It was a shadowy figure. Challenger blew up. Lockerbie bombing. The Iran-Iraq War. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The UK fought the Argentines in the Falklands. The French blew up the Rainbow Warrior. This is what normal life looks like. Things happen.

The number one thing that has come out of the modern Internet is this whiny brigade of losers who want to blame everything in the world for their problems. The majority of Americans are actually happy with their own lives. It's these few loud whiners. No, dude, 9/11 isn't why you can't get a girlfriend. Get a grip.

The animation is dominating the narrarive rather than assisting it. I (as many I assume) just want to skim the information and find myself stuck waiting for things to load or pathfinding algorithms to work. People keep flipping side to side needlessly also. Sometimes I'd just prefer flat 2d diagrams.
The scrolling on Android was horrible, much like being a teenager.

Well done.

They should show the crime the person will commit. Some interesting data on that found on
Let me guess, the solution is ban guns and pay higher taxes. That is the solution to literally every single problem in human history according to western sociology.

Then you get some guy like Nayib Bukele who cuts the Gordian Knot of societal disfunction going from the highest murder rate in the world to the lowest in the western hemisphere in 3 years short years by putting all the gangsters in prison. All the "surplus elite" NGO people who spent their entire career ineffectually addressing "the root causes of crime" are all now out of a job and/or very upset.