Friday, August 16, 2019

Will the U.S. Go to War?

"Do you expect the U.S. to fight in another world war in the next 10 years?" The General Social Survey has been asking this question since the mid-1970s. In every year, a substantial share of the population says yes. The latest data, from the 2018 survey, finds Americans split 50/50 on the chances of a world war within 10 years.

Who is most likely to believe a war is imminent? Women, Blacks, and those without a college degree. Fully 57 percent of women versus 43 percent of men think the U.S. will fight in another world war in the next 10 years, according to the 2018 survey. Among Blacks, 65 percent feel that way versus about half of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites and just 11 percent of Asians. The 55 percent majority of those without a college degree think we will soon fight in a world war versus 40 percent of college graduates.

Historically, this "Fear Meter" was highest in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The percentage of Americans who thought we would engage in a world war within 10 years was just 38 percent in 2000, before the attacks. The next time the question was asked, in 2002, fully 68 percent thought we would soon be in a world war. The Fear Meter was lowest in 1989–90, when only 29 to 32 percent thought the U.S. would fight in a world war within 10 years. What was going on at the time? The fall of the Berlin Wall, giving hope to Americans that greater world peace was at hand.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, August 15, 2019

32% Can Speak a Language other than English

Nearly one-third of Americans aged 18 or older (32 percent) say they can speak a language other than English, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. This figure has been growing slowly over the years and is up from 28 percent a decade ago.

Not surprisingly, Asians and Hispanics are most likely to say they can speak a language other than English—83 and 69 percent, respectively. In contrast, only 22 percent of Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites are multilingual. By generation, the youngest Americans are most likely to be able to speak a language other than English...

Can speak a language other than English
iGeneration: 43%
Millennials: 39%
Gen Xers: 33%
Boomers: 26%
Older: 13%

Note: In 2018 the iGeneration was aged 18 to 23; Millennials were aged 24 to 41; Gen Xers were aged 42 to 53; Boomers were aged 54 to 72; and older Americans were aged 73 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Why Aren't More Men Working?

Fewer men of prime working age are in the labor force. Among men aged 25 to 54, the labor force participation rate fell from 96 percent in 1969 to 89 percent in 2018. Or, to put it another way, more than 1 in 10 men of prime working age are not in the labor force today, up from 1 in 25 in 1969. What accounts for this increase? A BLS examination of the characteristics of nonworking men deepens the mystery—and may reveal the answer.

Using data from the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth, BLS economist Donna Rothstein compares the characteristics of nonworking men aged 30 to 36 from two cohorts—those born from 1960 through 1964 and those born from 1980 through 1984. She defines "nonworking" as men who had not worked for at least one year prior to the NLSY interview. Her analysis reveals that, if anything, the younger cohort of nonworking men was less disadvantaged than the older cohort...

  • The percentage of nonworkers with a health condition that limited their ability to work fell from 51 percent in the older cohort to 41 percent in the younger cohort.  
  • The percentage of nonworkers who were interviewed in prison (making it impossible to work) fell from 24 percent in the older cohort to 16 percent in the younger cohort.
  • The percentage of nonworkers with scores in the bottom 25th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (administered by the NLSY survey) was 64 percent in the older cohort and a smaller 53 percent in the younger cohort. 

Being less disadvantaged than the older cohort, men in the younger cohort should have been more likely to work. But Rothstein's analysis uncovers a difference that might explain their lower labor force participation. Nonworking men in the  younger cohort were much less likely than those in the older cohort to have ever married: 70 percent of the nonworkers in the younger cohort had never married versus 52 percent in the older cohort. According to a recent NBER study, this fact may be the key. The NBER study theorizes that the decline in marriage is the reason men of prime working age are less likely to be in the labor force. Without the pressure to support a family, men are less likely to work.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Men Who Do Not Work During Their Prime Years: Who do the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth Data Reveal?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How Many First Marriages End in Divorce?

The expected duration of a first marriage is eight years shorter than it used to be, according to a study by sociologist Arun S. Hendi of Princeton University in the journal Demography. Nearly all of the decline occurred between 1960 and 1980, with little change between 1980 and 2010.

In the 1960s, first marriages had an expected duration of 34 years. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 26 years. Behind the decline was the rising probability of divorce. In the early 1960s, the probability of divorce was 20 to 22 percent. By the early 1980s, the probability of divorce had more than doubled, rising to 48 percent. Since 1980, the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce has not increased significantly, and the expected duration of a first marriage has remained at about 26 years.

This is a surprising finding, Hendi notes, because it "lies in contrast to other recent reports that the propensity for divorce has either increased dramatically or decreased. Period estimates indicate that the reality lies somewhere in between." Between 1980 and 2010, he says, "the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce increased by approximately 1%."

Source, Demography, Proximate Sources of Change in Trajectories of First Marriage in the United States, 1960–2010, Arun S. Hendi, Volume 56, Issue 3 ($39.95)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Men Prefer Beer. Women Prefer Wine

Beer is still the alcoholic beverage of choice for the largest share of drinking Americans (38 percent), but wine (30 percent) and liquor (29 percent) are not far behind. Men and women differ greatly in their choice of beer or wine. But they are about equally likely to drink liquor...

Drink beer most often
Men: 55%
Women: 21%

Drink wine most often
Men: 15%
Women: 45%

Drink liquor most often
Men: 26%
Women: 32%

Source: Gallup, Liquor Ties Wine as Second-Favorite Adult Beverage in U.S.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Use of CBD Products by Age

A surprisingly large 14 percent of Americans use CBD products, according to a Gallup survey. Young adults are most likely to use them...

Percent who personally use CBD products
Aged 18 to 29: 20%
Aged 30 to 49: 16%
Aged 50 to 64: 11%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Half of adults say they do not use CBD products, and 35 percent have never heard of them.

Interestingly, the percentage of the population using CBD products is almost equal to the percentage who say they smoked marijuana in the past week (15 percent), according to another Gallup survey. Among people aged 65 or older, a larger share use CBD products (8 percent) than marijuana (3 percent).

Source: Gallup, 14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products

Thursday, August 08, 2019

How Close is Your Grocery Store?

How far do Americans live from the nearest supermarket? Using a combination of store and population data, the USDA's Economic Research Service estimated how far Americans have to go to get to the nearest store.

Percent distribution of population by distance to nearest supermarket
Under 0.5 miles: 30.0%
0.5 to 1.0 miles: 29.9%
More than 1.0 miles: 40.0%

The median distance to the nearest supermarket for the population as a whole is 0.88 miles. Not surprisingly, people in urban areas are closer to a food store than those in rural areas. The median distance to the nearest supermarket for people in urban areas is 0.69 miles, while people in rural areas are a median of 3.11 miles from the nearest store.

"Accessing affordable and nutritious food is a challenge for many Americans," explains the report. One of the goals of the analysis was to determine how many Americans live in census tracts with "low access" to food stores. Low access is defined, for urban residents, as living more than 1 mile from the nearest supermarket. For rural residents, low-access is defined as living more than 10 miles from the nearest store. The state with the largest share of low-access census tracts relative to the state's total census tracts is South Dakota (62.6 percent).

Another goal of the analysis was to determine how many Americans live in census tracts that are both low access and low income. The state with the largest share of low-access/low-income census tracts relative to the state's total census tracts is Mississippi (31.3 percent).

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Understanding Low-Income and Low-Access Census Tracts Across the Nation: Subnational and Subpopulation Estimates of Access to Healthy Food

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Most People Can't Be Trusted

It's not only the number of candles on a birthday cake that separate younger from older Americans. A survey by Pew Research Center finds a huge attitudinal gap between young adults (aged 18 to 29) and older Americans (aged 65-plus) on matters of trust.

Pew surveyed Americans to measure their level of interpersonal trust, then categorized respondents as high, medium, or low trusters based on their answers to three questions—can people be trusted, do people try to be fair no matter what, and do people try to help others. Overall, 22 percent of adults are high trusters, 41 percent are medium trusters, and 35 percent are low trusters.

There are big differences by age. Nearly half (46 percent) of 18-to-29-year-olds are low trusters, reports Pew. Among people aged 65 or older, only 19 percent fall into this category. The 60 percent majority of young adults say most people can't be trusted (versus 29 percent of people aged 65 or older), 71 percent say most people try to take advantage of you if they get a chance (versus 39 percent), and 73 percent say most of the time people just look out for themselves (versus 48 percent).

Stark differences emerge between young adults and the oldest Americans on a number of other questions as well. For example, only 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds versus 67 percent of people aged 65 or older have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American people to respect the rights of those who are not like them. Just 44 percent of young adults versus 66 percent of those aged 65-plus have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American public to accept election results no matter who wins.

Source: Pew Research Center, Young Americans Are Less Trusting of Other People—and Key Institutions—than Their Elders

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Unlike Boomers, Most Millennials Attended College Regardless of Family Income

Going to college was not the norm for the Baby-Boom generation. Among high school graduates born from 1960 through 1964, the youngest Boomers, only 44 percent had enrolled in college within four years of high school graduation. For Millennials, in contrast, going to college was the norm. Among Millennial high school graduates born from 1980 though 1984, a much larger 73 percent had enrolled in college within four years of high school graduation.

Family income largely determined the college attendance of Boomers, with the majority of those only in the top income quartile going to college. Not so for Millennials. The majority of Millennials in every family income quartile went to college. Here are the percentages attending college within four years of high school graduation by birth cohort and family income quartile...

Bottom income quartile
Born 1960–64: 32.5%
Born 1980–84: 62.3%

2nd income quartile
Born 1960–64: 41.4%
Born 1980–84: 66.1%

3rd income quartile
Born 1960–64: 43.2%
Born 1980–84: 74.0%

Top income quartile
Born 1960–64: 61.1%
Born 1980–84: 84.8%

The increase in college attendance among young adults with low and mid-level family incomes is one factor behind the rise in student debt over the past few decades.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, College Attendance and Completion Higher among Millennials than Youngest Baby Boomers

Monday, August 05, 2019

Have Gun in Home

Thirty-five percent of Americans have a gun in their home, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. Another 3 percent refused to say whether they had a gun. The percentage of households with a gun has fallen from a high of more than 50 percent in the early 1980s.

Gun ownership does not vary much by generation, ranging from a low of 31 percent among Millennials to a high of 40 percent among Gen Xers and Boomers. By region, households in the Northeast are least likely to own a gun (21 percent) and those in the Midwest and South most likely (41 percent). The biggest difference in gun ownership is by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent of households with guns by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2018
Black: 22.0%
Hispanic: 18.6%
Non-Hispanic White: 44.7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, August 02, 2019

Median Household Income Rises in June 2019

Median household income climbed 0.9 percent between May and June 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $64,430 June median was $593 greater than the May 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

"Real median household income continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.8 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 15.9 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $55,612.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for June 2019 was 104.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the June 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 4.7 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. "Not an impressive performance by any means," says Green. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: June 2019

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Weapons in Schools

School safety is a big concern, and a recent National Center for Education Statistics report shows why. In the 2017–18 school year, public schools reported 3,600 incidents in which a firearm or explosive device was brought into a school (3 percent of schools reported this type of incident) and 69,100 incidents in which a knife or sharp object was brought into a school (reported by 38 percent).

These reports are just the tip of the iceberg, judging from the results of the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. This biennial survey of students in 9th through 12th grade was developed to monitor risky teen behaviors. According to the 2017 survey, 3.8 percent of students in 9th through 12th grade said they had carried a weapon (such as a gun, knife, club, etc.) onto school property in the past month. With 16.7 million high school students in the nation, this means more than 600,000 had brought a weapon to school in the past month. Among boys, 5.6 percent had done so. Boys in 11th and 12th grade were most likely to have brought a weapon to school—7.1 and 7.0 percent, respectively.

Overall, 6.0 percent of high school students say they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past year. Among boys, 7.8 percent had been threatened with a weapon. Boys in 9th grade were most likely to report this kind of experience, at 8.8 percent. 

Source: CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Youth Online High School Results

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Hispanic Paradox Grows

Hispanics have lower death rates and a longer life expectancy than non-Hispanic Whites. This is true despite the fact that Hispanics are poorer than non-Hispanic Whites and less likely to have health insurance. Their mortality advantage is known as the "Hispanic paradox" because demographers cannot explain it.

The Hispanic paradox is growing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics' analysis of trends in mortality rates. For Hispanics aged 25 or older in 2017, the age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population was 31 percent lower than the rate for non-Hispanic Whites. In 2000, the Hispanic death rate was only 23 percent lower than the non-Hispanic White rate.

Death rate per 100,000 population aged 25 or older, 2017 (and 2000)
Hispanics: 784.4 (995.1)
Non-Hispanic Whites: 1,137.4 (1,288.1)

Between 2000 and 2017, the age-adjusted death rate for Hispanics aged 25 or older fell 21 percent. The non-Hispanic White death rate fell by only 12 percent. "The mortality advantage for Hispanic adults has endured through 2017," concludes the NCHS report, "and has been increasing with respect to non-Hispanic white adults."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Trends by Race and Ethnicity among Adults Aged 25 and Over: United States, 2000–2017

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Marijuana Almost as Popular as Cigarettes

More than one in four Americans (27 percent) smoked something in the past week, according to a Gallup survey. Fifteen percent of adults aged 18 or older smoked cigarettes, 12 percent smoked marijuana, and 8 percent vaped. (Some smoked more than one kind of product.)

Cigarettes are more popular than marijuana among the population as a whole, but marijuana is more popular than cigarettes in some demographic segments...

Young adults: 22 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds smoked marijuana in the past week. This figure greatly exceeds the 14 percent who smoked cigarettes. In every other age group, cigarettes are more popular than marijuana. Young adults are more likely to vape (19 percent) than smoke cigarettes.

College graduates: Smoking marijuana is more popular than cigarettes among college graduates—13 percent have smoked marijuana in the past week versus 9 percent who have smoked cigarettes. Among those with no college education, 20 percent had smoked cigarettes in the past week versus a smaller 13 percent who had smoked marijuana.

Affluent: Those with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to have smoked marijuana (10 percent) than cigarettes (5 percent) in the past week.

Source: Gallup, Marijuana Use Similar to New Lower Rate of Cigarette Smoking