Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Who Buys Brand-Name Products?

Less informed consumers buy brand-name products when a less expensive equivalent is available, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study. NBER researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing a Nielsen Homescan database of 77 million shopping trips, zeroing in on who buys store-brand versus brand-name pain relievers.

Knowledgeable shoppers are more likely to buy store-brands. Pharmacists and physicians, the most knowledgeable shoppers in this instance, are most likely to buy store-brand pain relievers, choosing them over the branded equivalent 91 percent of the time. In comparison, the average consumer chooses the store-brand just 74 percent of the time. By field of study, college graduates with science degrees are more likely than other college graduates to buy store-brand pain relievers.

Extending their analysis to the purchase of cooking ingredients, the NBER researchers find that chefs—the most knowledgeable cooking supply shoppers—choose store-brand pantry staples 80 percent of the time while the average consumer chooses store brands only 60 percent of the time. Conclusion: the less consumers know, the more likely they are to pay the premium for a brand-name product.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Do Pharmacists Buy Bayer? Informed Shoppers and the Brand Premium

Monday, November 24, 2014

59,631 Miracle Births

Of the 4 million babies born in the United States in 2011, a substantial 59,631 could be considered miracle births—they were born through assisted reproductive technology, meaning either eggs or embryos were handled in a laboratory. These births do not include those in which only sperm are handled or a woman takes drugs to stimulate egg production.

The babies born through assisted reproductive technology account for 1.5 percent of all births, 19 percent of twin births, and 32 percent of triplet or higher births. In the state with the largest share of births due to assisted reproductive technology (Massachusetts), 4.5 percent of all births, 40 percent of twin births, and 63 percent of triplet-plus births are the result of this technology.

Source: CDC, Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance—United States, 2011

Friday, November 21, 2014

College Graduation Rates

Percent of full-time students attending four-year colleges in pursuit of a bachelor's degree who complete their degree in...

4 years: 38%
6 years: 59%
8 years: 61%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2005-10; and Student Financial Aid in Postsecondary Institutions, Academic Year 2012: First Look (Provisional Data NCES 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Voting Gaps in the 2014 Congressional Election

53% of voters under age 40 reported voting for the Democratic candidate.
56% of voters aged 65 or older reported voting for the Republican candidate.

72% of non-White voters reported voting for the Democratic candidate.
55% of White voters reported voting for the Republican candidate.

65% of voters without a religious affiliation reported voting for the Democratic candidate.
80% of White evangelical Protestants reported voting for the Republican candidate.

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Vote Preferences and Outcome of the Midterm Election: The 2014 Vote

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Only 14% Retire as Planned

How many people retire at the age they had planned? An analysis of the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study (HRS) has the answer. The HRS is a longitudinal survey of Americans aged 50 or older, allowing researchers to track individuals over time. The Employee Benefit Research Institute used the HRS data to compare the expected and actual retirement age of individual workers. The findings were surprising. 

"Before age 62, actual retirement is higher than expected retirement," says EBRI researcher Sudipto Banerjee. But by age 65 the opposite is the case. "Eighty-one percent of workers expected to retire before age 65, but only 64.1 percent actually did so," Banerjee says. Overall, 38 percent of older workers retired before the age they had planned and a larger 48 percent retired after the age they had planned. Only 14 percent retired as planned. 

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, The Gap Between Expected and Actual Retirement: Evidence from Longitudinal Data, Notes, November 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toy Story

Percent who plan on purchasing toys as gifts this holiday season...

Parents: 82%
Pet owners: 52%

Source: Harris Interactive, Anticipated Holiday Spending Remains Consistent Compared to Last Year

Monday, November 17, 2014

Women Say "No Thanks" to Marrying Again

Many of the nation's divorced or widowed singles say they don't want to marry again...

Percent of divorced/widowed who do not want to marry again
Men: 30%
Women: 54%

Source: Pew Research Center, Four in Ten Couples Are Saying "I Do," Again

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ultimate Selfie: Your Health

Americans are ready to take their healthcare to the next level—self monitoring. A Harris Interactive survey finds nearly half of the public to be very or extremely interested in monitoring their blood pressure (48 percent), heartbeat (47 percent), or physical activity (43 percent) via smartphone or tablet. Young adults are especially interested in these services. Here are the percentages who are very or extremely interested in tracking their physical activity (such as steps and sleep) via smartphone or tablet by generation...

Very-extremely interested in tracking physical activity 
Millennials: 57%
Gen Xers: 45%
Boomers: 35%
Matures: 25%

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Computer Ownership, 2013

Nearly nine out of ten Americans live in a household with a computer: 88 percent of the population has a computer at home—83 percent have a desktop or laptop computer and 71 percent own what the Census Bureau calls a "handheld computer," such as a smartphone.

For some, a handheld device is their only computer. Here is the percentage of households by age of householder that have only a handheld computer...

Aged 15 to 34: 9.5%
Aged 35 to 44: 5.8%
Aged 45 to 64: 3.9%
Aged 65-plus: 2.5%

Source: Census Bureau, Computer and Internet Access in the United States: 2013

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Magnets for Millennials

Young adults are packing their bags and moving to the city. The nation's most urban counties gained more than 1 million 25-to-34-year-olds between 2008-10 and 2011-13, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the American Community Survey. This numerical gain is nearly double the increase in the number of 25-to-34-year-olds in all other counties combined.

There's more: The most urban counties, with a rank of 1 on the Rural-Urban Continuum (in metro areas with a population of 1 million or more), also saw the largest percentage increase in 25-to-34-year-olds between 2008-10 and 2011-13—a 4.5 percent rise. In the most rural counties, with a rank of 9 on the Rural-Urban Continuum, the number of 25-to-34-year-olds fell 4.8 percent during the time period.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran Demographics

The number of veterans in the U.S. is shrinking. The 19.6 million veterans of 2013 were well below the 26.4 million of 2000, according to the Census Bureau. The veteran share of the adult population fell from 12.7 to 8.1 percent during those years.

Most veterans are men (92 percent), and nearly half (47 percent) are aged 65 or older. Most men aged 75 or older are veterans, but the share drops to 39 percent among men aged 65 to 74 and declines in each younger age group...

Percent of men who are veterans
Aged 18 to 34: 4%
Aged 35 to 54: 10%
Aged 55 to 64: 19%
Aged 65 to 74: 39%
Aged 75-plus: 57%

The largest share of veterans served during the Vietnam War era (36 percent), followed by the Gulf War (27 percent). Another 24 percent served during peacetime. Eleven percent of veterans served during the Korean War, and just 7 percent are World War II vets. These percentages sum to more than 100 because some veterans served in more than one era.

Only 42 percent of veterans are enrolled in the VA's health benefits program, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service (PDF). Although this figure has been rising, it remains a minority of veterans because of Congressional limits on VA funding. Veterans enrolling since 2003 and without a service disability can access benefits only if their income or net worth is below a certain threshold.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Texting Is Number-One Form of Communication

Texting is the dominant form of communication among Americans, according to a Gallup survey. Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they texted "a lot" yesterday—slightly larger than the 38 percent who talked a lot on a cell phone and the 37 percent who sent or read emails a lot. (Only 9 percent say they used a landline phone a lot yesterday.) Of course the 1 or 2 percentage-point difference between these three most common modes of communication are statistically insignificant, but a look at the numbers by age confirms that texting will increasingly dominate communication in the years ahead.

More than two-thirds of young adults (aged 18 to 29) say they texted a lot yesterday, far above the 50 percent who talked a lot on a cell phone or the 47 percent who sent/received emails a lot. Among people aged 30 to 49 as well, texting surpasses cell phone calls (41 percent) or emailing (44 percent). Here are the percentages who say they texted a lot yesterday by age...

Aged 18 to 29: 68%
Aged 30 to 49: 47%
Aged 50 to 64: 26%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Source: Gallup, The New Era of Communication among Americans

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Gun in the House

Nearly two out of three Americans believe that "having a gun in the house makes it a safer place to be," according to a Gallup survey. The percentage who feel this way is at a record high of 63 percent, up from just 35 percent in 2000. By region, this is the percentage with a gun in their house...

Northeast: 31%
Midwest: 44%
South: 51%
West: 39%

Source: Gallup, More than Six in 10 Americans Say Guns Make Homes Safer

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Surviving to Age 80

Most Americans can expect to live well into old age. It wasn't always this way. In 1901, only 13.5 percent of newborns could expect to live to age 80 based on age-specific mortality rates of that year. By 1950, the chance of a newborn living to age 80 had climbed to 29.3 percent. In 2000, the probability exceeded 50 percent for the first time. By 2010, the 57.2 percent majority of newborns could expect to live to age 80. But the chance of living to age 80 differs greatly by sex, race and Hispanic origin...

Percentage surviving to age 80 based on 2010 mortality rates
71.2% of Hispanic females
64.0% of non-Hispanic White females
57.4% of Hispanic males
57.2% of total people
55.0% of Black females
50.9% of non-Hispanic White males
38.3% of Black males

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, United States Life Tables 2010