Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Father's Delight

It is sometimes surprising what the government asks Americans to reveal about themselves. And lucky for us demographers, Americans seem willing to tell all. The latest example: A survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics asks fathers a series of questions to determine how much "delight" they get from their children. And the answer is—a lot.

Called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the survey's purpose is to test the effects of family, school, community, and individual variables on children's development. Biological fathers living with children born in 2001 were asked about their feelings towards their child, creating indicators of "delight." The results show how involved today's fathers are in child care, both emotionally and physically.

Two-thirds of fathers think it's more fun to get their child something new than to get something for themselves. An equally large percentage of fathers carry pictures of their child with them wherever they go, and 69 percent talk a lot about their child to friends and family. Three out of four fathers always find themselves thinking about their child. Eighty-five percent of fathers think holding and cuddling their child is fun, and 84 percent strongly agree that fatherhood is a highly rewarding experience.

Most fathers strongly agree that they should be as heavily involved as the mother in the care of their child. Seventy-nine percent rate themselves as a "very good" or "better than average" father. Only 2 percent say they have "some trouble" being a father.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bet You Didn't Know

Percent of adults who read books every day: 32

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Adult Literacy

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How Americans Get to Work

Drive alone: 79 percent
Carpool: 9 percent
Mass transit: 4 percent
Work at home: 3 percent
Walk: 2 percent

Source: 2005 American Housing Survey

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Cost of College

Paying for college is more painful in some states than others. The Census Bureau's State and Metropolitan Area Data Book: 2006 shows just how much it hurts. One year of tuition, room, and board at a four-year public university ranges from a high of $15,109 in New Jersey to a low of $7,494 in Louisiana. In other words, it costs twice as much to go to college in New Jersey as it does in Louisiana. But household incomes are also much higher in New Jersey, reducing the burden on state residents.

Here's a better way to calculate the pain of paying for college—determine what proportion of median household income is required to pay for one year of in-state tuition, room, and board at a four-year public university. Nationally, the figure is 24.6 percent, with median household income at $43,564 in 2003 and one year of college at a public university costing $10,720. In many states the proportion is much higher, with Vermont (33.8 percent), Pennsylvania (33.2 percent), and South Carolina (33.0 percent) the most expensive. In five states, one year of college requires less than 20 percent of household income. Wyoming (19.6 percent), Colorado (19.3 percent), Alaska (19.3 percent), Hawaii (17.2 percent), and Utah (16.8 percent) have the lowest college costs relative to household income.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Food for Thought

Asian American are much less likely than the average American to be overweight—only 31 percent of Asians are overweight, well below the 59 percent majority of all Americans who are overweight.

Here's why Asians may be better able to control their weight. An analysis of household spending published in the Monthly Labor Review reveals the top three items on which Asian households spend the most in the grocery store: fresh vegetables, seafood, and fresh fruit. A nutritionist's dream! In contrast, here are the top three grocery items on which everyone else spends the most: baked products, beef, and dairy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bigger Houses

It's easy to keep up with housing trends if you know where to look. The Census Bureau keeps tabs on new housing and provides lots of historical data as well. Here are some recently released figures for new single-family houses sold in 2005, with comparisons to 1995.

Median square feet
2005: 2,235
1995: 1,880

Percentage with cental air conditioning
2005: 92
1995: 83

Percentage with three or more bathrooms
2005: 25
1995: 14

Percentage with four or more bedrooms
2005: 42
1995: 34

Median sales price
2005: $240,900
1995: $133,900

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Record: Births to Unmarried Women

The number of births to unmarried women climbed to an unprecedented 1,470,189 in 2004, according to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Of the 4,112,052 births in 2004, fully 35.8 percent were born to unmarried woman. The percentage of babies born to single women has grown steadily for decades. Here's a look at the trend:

Percent of births to unmarried women:
1950: 3.9
1960: 5.3
1970: 10.7
1980: 18.4
1990: 28.0
2000: 33.2
2004: 35.8

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cool Research Link: Attitudes Online

Want to know how many are against the death penalty for murder, how Americans feel about banning the Bible in public schools, or whether Americans think homosexuals should be allowed to teach at the nation's colleges? Now you can find out by delving into the National Opinion Research Center's highly respected General Social Survey (GSS) online. This survey, fielded every two years, has been collecting attitudinal data since 1972.

Until now, tapping into GSS results has been difficult, limited to academic researchers with the expertise to run statistical programs to unlock the database. To the rescue comes the Computer Assisted Survey Methods Program at the University of California, Berkeley, creating web-based programs for analysis of survey data. Its online application allows you to choose a GSS question and get an answer in table and chart format. You can explore attitudes and how they have changed from as far back as 1972 up to 2004. You can also explore attitudes by demographic segment, including gender, age, race, and political party.

How many Americans are against the death penalty for murder? Thirty-two percent in 2004, up from 21 percent in 1990. Only 36 percent of Americans want to ban the Bible in public schools, but among college graduates the 51 percent majority thinks the Bible should be banned. And 65 percent of Americans think it's OK for homosexuals to teach at the nation's colleges and universities—up from 53 percent thirty years ago.