Thursday, January 16, 2020

Remarkable Increase in Men's Life Expectancy

In recent years, life expectancy trends in the United States have been disappointing. Length of life has increased more slowly in the United States than in other developed countries. Geographic disparities in life expectancy are growing and, in the past few years, overall life expectancy has actually declined. But there's some good news on the life expectancy front. According to a study in Demography, the gains in the life expectancy of American men in a number of large cities have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Examining men's mortality in 25 large U.S. cities over the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, the researchers found above average increases in places such as San Francisco (13.7 years), Washington, D.C. (13.7 ), and New York City (11.8). These increases are far above the overall gain of 4.8 years for all American men during the time period. In most of the 25 cities examined, in fact, men's life expectancy grew far more than the 4.8 year average.

What accounts for this "remarkable" rise in life expectancy, as the researchers describe it? One factor is the decline in deaths due to HIV/AIDS. Another is the decline in homicides. The changing socioeconomic characteristics of city populations also contributed to the rise. Resilience also has a role, the authors suggest. "One potential explanation for the pattern of city improvements involves the long-run strength and character of local institutions," they conclude. "The six top-performing cities—San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC—stand out as international centers of cultural and economic activity and have long histories of strong amenities and commensurate institutional infrastructure."

Source: Demography, Life and Death in the American  City: Men's Life Expectancy in 25 Major American Cities from 1990 to 2015, by Andrew Fenelon and Michel Boudreaux, Volume 56, No. 6,  ($39.95)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Suburbs Are Home to Most American Households

Fifty-three percent of American households live in the suburbs, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Only one in three lives in a central (or principal) city...

Percent distribution of U.S. households by metropolitan status, 2018
33.4% are in the principal city of a metropolitan area
52.6% are in the suburb of a metropolitan area
14.0% are outside a metropolitan area

But there is great variation in metropolitan status by race and Hispanic origin. Among Asians and Blacks, the 51 percent majority of householders live in the principal city of a metropolitan area. The figure is 46 percent among Hispanics. In contrast, only 26 percent of non-Hispanic White householders live in a city. Consequently, non-Hispanic Whites head a much smaller share of city than suburban or nonmetropolitan households.

Non-Hispanic White share of U.S. households by metropolitan status, 2018
52% of principal city households
71% of suburban households
83% of nonmetropolitan households

Source: Census Bureau, 2019 Current Population Survey

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trends of the 2020s: The Rural-Urban Divide

The growing gap in the wellbeing of rural and urban America is an intractable problem likely to worsen in the 2020s. Here's why the problem won't go away. Over the years, ongoing urbanization has "sorted and segregated national populations" by personality type, according to Will Wilkinson, vice president for research at the Niskanen Center. In his paper, The Density Divide: Urbanization, Polarization, and Populist Backlash, Wilkinson examines research on personality type and selective migration and uses the lessons learned to explain the rural-urban divide.

Urban areas are increasingly home to people who score higher on the "openness to experience" personality domain, Wilkinson says. "People high in openness seek novelty, like to travel, are interested in other cultures, try new foods, are motivated to learn, and are relatively comfortable with ethnic and cultural difference," he explains. Population density and openness to experience are highly correlated, in part because those who are high in openness are also more likely to migrate. As urban areas accumulate people higher in openness, rural areas are increasingly populated by those who are less open. "Those low in openness are wary of change and more likely to hew to tradition, remain close to home, and feel unsettled by cultural difference." They are stuck in place, resistant to moving despite the problems of rural America—depopulation, the loss of jobs, lower incomes, relatively poor health, and widespread drug abuse. Rather than move to places of opportunity, they succumb to what economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case call "deaths of despair." (For a chilling account of this phenomenon, see Who Killed the Knapp Family? by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in the New York Times.)

The rural-urban divide is likely to widen in the 2020s not only because of what Wilkinson calls the "density divide" between urban and rural personalities, but also because of the "small-state bias" in our electoral system. Those high in openness tend to be more liberal and Democratic. Those low in openness tend to be more conservative and Republican. "Under the conditions of the density divide," Wilkinson concludes, "the constitutionally baked-in overrepresentation of sparsely populated states lends Republicans an enormous structural advantage, and as America's population continues to concentrate in highly urbanized states, this bias grows worse."

Monday, January 13, 2020

Teens Are Driving Less

The nation's teenagers are driving less than they once did. Only 50 percent of 16-to-17-year-olds drive on an average day, according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey. This is down from 58 percent in 2009 and 63 percent in 2001.

Percentage of 16-to-17-year-olds who drive on an average day
2017: 50%
2009: 58%
2001: 63%

What's behind the decline in teen driving? One factor is that fewer 16-to-17-year-olds have a driver's license. Only 27 percent of 16-year-olds had a driver's license in 2018, down from 34 percent in 2001. Among 17-year-olds, the figure fell from 54 to 46.5 percent during those years, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

But there may be another reason for teens' lack of interest in cars. As the National Household Travel Survey report explains, "given the fact that teens have grown up in a society that is largely connected by technology, their travel patterns may be different in 2017 as compared to 2001." In other words, the smartphone is an easier and cheaper way to stay in touch with friends than the automobile.

Source: Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey, Travel Trends for Teens and Seniors

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Most Popular Outdoor Recreational Activities

Nearly half of Americans aged 6 or older (49 percent) participate in outdoor recreational activities during a year's time, according to the Outdoor Foundation. Annual participation has been at the 49 percent level for the past decade. Here are the outdoor fitness activities in which at least 10 percent of people aged 6 or older participate at least once a year...

Most popular outdoor fitness activities
Running: 19%
Fishing: 17%
Bicycling: 16%
Hiking: 15%
Camping: 14%

Among those who do not participate in outdoor recreational activities, 46 percent would like to do so. Family responsibilities are cited as the biggest obstacle to their participation.

Source: Outdoor Foundation, 2018 Outdoor Participation Report

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

How Many Books Do You Read in a Year?

If you read at least one book in the past year, you rank among the majority of Americans. According to a 2017 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, 53 percent of American adults read at least one book in the past 12 months—excluding those required for work or school. The median number of books read in a year's time is a modest 4.8, and the average 11.4. Still, the numbers add up. Americans read 1.4 billion books in 2017.

Women are more likely than men to have read a book in the past 12 months (61 versus 44 percent). By age, readership is as low as 47 percent among 18-to-24-year-olds, but is 50 percent or higher in all older age groups. The figure peaks at 57 percent among 65-to-74-year-olds. Not surprisingly, reading books increases with education...

Percent who read a book during past 12 months
High school graduate only: 40%
Some college/associate degree: 55%
College graduate: 68%
Graduate school: 79%

Twenty-three percent of adults used an electronic device, such as an e-reader or tablet computer, to read a book in the past year. Sixteen percent listened to an audiobook.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Patterns of Arts Participation: A Full Report from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Moms Provide Most Homeschooling Instruction

Nearly 1.7 million children aged 5 to 17 are being homeschooled in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Parents homeschool their children for a variety of reasons, but most parents cite these four...

80% homeschool because of concern about the environment of other schools
67% homeschool to provide moral instruction
61% homeschool because of dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools
51% homeschool to provide religious instruction

Mothers are the main provider of instruction for 78 percent of homeschooled students. Only 13 percent are taught primarily by their father. While Moms are the main teachers for most homeschooled students, 23 percent receive at least some instruction by a tutor or private teacher, and 31 percent receive at least some instruction from a local homeschooling group.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Homeschooling in the United States: Results from the 2012 and 2016 Parent and Family Involvement Survey

Monday, January 06, 2020

44% of People Aged 50-Plus Play Video Games

More older Americans are playing video games, according to a 2019 AARP survey. Forty-four percent of people aged 50 or older engage in "interactive digital entertainment that you play via a computer, a game console (like the Xbox or PlayStation), or a phone or tablet" at least once a month. This level of participation is higher than the 38 percent of 2016. The average 50-plus gamer spends five hours a week playing video games. Nearly half (47 percent) of older gamers play daily.

In the 50-plus age group, women are more likely than men to play video games—49 percent of women aged 50-plus report playing video games at least once a month versus 40 percent of men. Among the women gamers, 53 percent play daily. Among the men, only 39 percent play every day.

Percent of people aged 50-plus who play video games
Aged 50 to 59: 49%
Aged 60 to 69: 44%
Aged 70-plus: 39%

A growing share of older gamers use phones, tablets, or other mobile devices to play games—73 percent in 2019, up from 57 percent in 2016. A shrinking share play on computers or laptops—47 percent in 2019, down from 59 percent in 2016.

The three most popular types of games among older gamers are puzzle/logic games (named by 49 percent), card/tile games (47 percent), and trivia/word/traditional board video games (22 percent). What do older Americans get out of playing video games? The largest share—57 percent—say playing video games "provides me with relief from anxiety or stress."

Source: AARP, Gaming Attitudes and Habits of Adults Ages 50-Plus

Friday, January 03, 2020

Median Household Income Falls in November 2019

Median household income fell between October and November 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $66,043 November median was 0.9 percent below the October 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. "The relatively large increase in inflation last month (0.3 percent), following a comparable increase the month before, had a negative effect on real median annual household income," reports Sentier. The Sentier estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

Despite the recent dip, "real median household income has continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.9 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 17.5 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $56,185.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for November 2019 was 106.2 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the November 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 6.2 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: November 2019

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Nearly 1 Million Same-Sex Households in U.S.

Among the nearly 1 million same-sex couple households in the U.S. in 2018, 60 percent are married couples, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Total same-sex couple households: 995,420
Married couples: 592,561
Unmarried partners: 402,859

California, the most populous state, has the most same-sex couple households (135,274). Florida, Texas, and New York are home to more than 70,000. Only 878 same-sex couples live in Wyoming, the least populous state.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of Same-Sex Couple Households

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Trends of the 2020s: Slow-Go Boomers

Lists, rankings, and reviews. The end of a decade brings a torrent of retrospective. If you're tired of looking back, then let's look ahead. Using the demographics as a crystal ball, Trends of the 2020s will be a series of occasional posts identifying the major trends of the decade ahead.

Here's one of the major trends of the 2020s: Slow-Go Boomers. The oldest Boomers turn 74 this year. During the next two decades, the number of people aged 75 to 84 will expand by 84 percent as Boomers pass through the age group. The number of 75-to-84-year-olds is projected to rise from 16.6 million this year to 30.5 million by 2040, according to the Census Bureau. In the decades ahead, the Baby-Boom generation will downshift from the "Go Go" (65 to 74) lifestage of old age to the "Slow Go" (75 to 84) and "No Go" (85-plus) lifestages.

The 2010s was characterized by rapid growth in the number of 65-to-74-year-olds as the oldest Boomers filled the age group—the Go-Go years of old age. Recently retired and still physically robust, Boomers were eager to embrace new experiences. The next few decades will not be as easy. At ages 75 to 84, the Slow-Go years, physical difficulties and health conditions begin to limit activities and shape lifestyles. At ages 85-plus, the No-Go years, it gets worse.

Most in the Go-Go years of old age have no difficulty taking care of themselves (self-care), getting around (mobility), or doing chores (household activities), according to a Department of Health and Human Services study, Disability and Care Needs of Older Americans. With advancing age, however, the percentage of older Americans with difficulties rises steeply...

Percentage of people aged 75-plus with difficulties in self-care, mobility, or household activities
Aged 75 to 79: 48.5%
Aged 80 to 84: 59.4%
Aged 85 to 89: 75.0%
Aged 90-plus: 85.3%

During the 2020s, the oldest Boomers will age into the Slow-Go years, a time when difficulties become the norm. Most of those with difficulties receive help from unpaid caregivers—family and friends, primarily. Already, 40 million unpaid caretakers (16 percent of the population aged 15 or older) are helping the nation's elderly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report, Unpaid Eldercare in the United States. And the oldest Boomers haven't even turned 75 yet. That happens in 2021.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2010s: Slowest Population Growth in U.S. History?

We await the April 1, 2020 census datapoint, but so far it looks like the 2010s will go down in U.S. history as the decade with the slowest population growth. In the years between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2019, the U.S. population grew by just 6.3 percent, according to the Census Bureau's newly released population estimates for 2019. When the April 1, 2020 census count is released next year, the growth rate of the 2010s is likely to remain below the current record low of 7.3 percent recorded in the 1930s.

U.S. population growth by decade has been slowing since the 1950s. During the 1950s, the population grew by 18.5 percent—more than double the growth of the 1930s—coinciding with the birth of the baby-boom generation. In every decade since, population growth has been slower than in the previous decade with the exception of the 1990s...

Percent change in U.S. population by decade
2010 to 2019: 6.3% (incomplete data)
2000 to 2010: 9.7%
1990 to 2000: 13.1%
1980 to 1990: 9.8%
1970 to 1980: 11.4%
1960 to 1970: 13.4%
1950 to 1960: 18.5%
1940 to 1950: 14.5%
1930 to 1940: 7.3% (record low)

Note: Percent changes by decade are calculated using April 1 census counts except for 2010 to 2019, which is the percent change from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.

There are two reasons for the slow rate of population growth during this decade. The ongoing baby bust is one reason, with the fertility rate at a record low. The annual rate of natural increase (births minus deaths) fell from 4.7 to just 2.9 per 1,000 population from 2010 to 2019. The number of people added to the population each year through natural increase fell from 1.5 million between 2010 and 2011 to just 957,000 between 2018 and 2019.

Falling net migration (immigrants minus emigrants) is the other factor that has resulted in what is likely to be the slowest decade of population growth in U.S. history. The annual rate of net migration fell from 2.5 to 1.8 per 1,000 population from 2010 to 2019. The population gain from net migration during this decade peaked at more than 1 million in 2015 and 2016. But between 2018 and 2019, a net of only 595,000 migrants were added to the population.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010—2019

Monday, December 30, 2019

Growing Interest in Solar Panels

The use of solar energy by U.S. households is miniscule. Only 6 percent of homeowners say they have installed solar panels at their home, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The figure is highest in the Mountain states, where 17 percent have done so. In the East and West South Central states, the figure is just 1 percent.

Though few have installed solar panels, many are seriously thinking about it. Nationally, 46 percent of homeowners are giving serious thought to the use of solar energy, up from 40 percent who said they were seriously considering it in 2016.

Percentage of homeowners who are giving serious thought to installing solar panels (and percentage who have already done so), by region/division, 2019
Northeast: 44% (7%)
Midwest: 42% (2%)
South Atlantic: 51% (4%)
East and West South Central: 45% (1%)
Mountain: 36% (17%)
Pacific: 54% (14%)

Source: Pew Research Center, More U.S. Homeowners Say They Are Considering Home Solar Panels

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Biggest Spenders on Gifts

The average household spent $1,206 on gifts for people in other households in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is 14 percent less, after adjusting for inflation, than the average household spent on gifts in the midst of the Great Recession in 2008.

Spending on gifts for people in other households peaks in the 45-to-54 age group at $2,043. Householders aged 55 to 64 are the second biggest spenders, devoting $1,766 to gifts. These two age groups are the biggest spenders on gifts for people in other households because most have adult children (and grandchildren) living elsewhere, and many still have living parents. Among household types, married couples without children at home spend the most on gifts for people in other households. Most of these couples are empty nesters with adult children and grandchildren living elsewhere.

These are the householders who spend the most on gifts for people in other households...

Biggest spenders: Average household spending on gifts for people in other households, 2018 
Biggest by age, householders aged 45 to 54: $2,043
Biggest by household type, married couples without children at home: $1,972
Biggest by education, householders with a graduate degree: $2,526
Biggest by income, households with incomes of $200,000-plus: $4,638
Biggest by generation, Boomers: $1,620

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey