Monday, October 30, 2006

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of people aged 18 to 65 who have not been to a doctor or other health care professional in the past year, by health insurance status:

With health insurance: 15 percent
Without health insurance: 46 percent

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2005

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feeling Worse

Why don't Americans feel as good as they once did? The percentage of adults aged 18 or older who say they are in "excellent" or "very good" health fell from 59 to 54 percent between 1995 and 2005, according to the government's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The aging of the population explains some of the decline, since older Americans are less likely to report being in tip-top shape. But an examination of the data by age group reveals young adults to be the ones with the biggest decline in health status. The percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds who say they are in excellent or very good health fell by nearly 8 percentage points between 1995 and 2005—from 70 to 62 percent. In contrast, among people aged 65 or older, the percentage reporting excellent or very good health fell by less than 1 percentage point, declining from 37.2 to 36.5 percent during those years.

Every demographic segment was less likely to report being in excellent or very good health in 2005 than in 1995, but some recorded bigger declines than others. By race and Hispanic origin, Hispanics experienced the sharpest drop in health status—down an eyebrow raising 17 percentage points. By income group, those in the middle saw the biggest decline in health status. The percentage reporting excellent or very good health fell by 11 to 12 percentage points for those with household incomes ranging from $15,000 to $49,999. By education, high school graduates and those with only some college experienced a larger decline in health status than those without a high school diploma or a college degree.

One possible explanation for our worsening health status is the decline in health insurance coverage. The groups experiencing the biggest losses in health insurance coverage are also the groups with the biggest declines in health status. The percentage of people aged 25 to 34 without health insurance grew from 23 to 26 percent between 1995 and 2005—the biggest increase among age groups, according to the Census Bureau. This is also the age group reporting the biggest decline in health status. The only age group with universal health insurance coverage—people aged 65 or older—experienced the smallest change in health status during those years. Likewise Hispanics, the group most likely to be without health insurance, saw the biggest decline in health status. Middle-income groups—with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid (the government's health insurance program for the poor) and too poor to afford employer-provided or private health insurance—also experienced the biggest declines in self-reported health status.

If the lack of health insurance is behind Americans' growing unease about their health, then we're likely to feel even worse in the years ahead as health insurance costs climb and coverage falls.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of children in 4th through 8th grade who take part in organized activities (not including after-school programs) by family income level:

incomes below poverty level: 30 percent
incomes 200% or more above poverty level: 66 percent

Source: America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Married Couples a Minority

The New York Times reports today that married couples are now a minority of households. The Times' analysis of the Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey (ACS) shows that married couples account for 49.7 percent of households, down from 51.7 percent in 2000. The Census Bureau's other trend-tracking survey still puts married couples in the majority, however. The 2006 Current Population Survey (CPS), taken in March, estimates that married couples accounted for 50.9 percent of households. The difference in the two figures is most likely due to the inherent variation in estimates based on population samples.

It does not matter whether married couples are a slight majority or a bare minority of households. The fact is, living arrangements in the U.S. are very different from what they once were and will change even more as the baby-boom generation ages into the empty-nest years and beyond. Here's how living arrangements rank today, from most to least popular according to both surveys:

1. Married couples without children under age 18 living at home (most are empty-nesters)
ACS 28.0%
CPS 27.1%

2. People living alone (most are women and many are widowed)
ACS 27.1%
CPS 26.6%

3. Married couples with children under age 18 at home
ACS 21.7%
CPS 23.8%

4. Female-headed families (about two-thirds include children)
ACS 12.6%
CPS 12.3%

5. People living with nonrelatives (many are cohabiting couples)
ACS 6.0%
CPS 5.7%

6. Male-headed families (only half include children)
ACS 4.6%
CPS 4.5%

As boomers age and many become widowed, living alone is destined to become the most common lifestyle in the U.S.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of homeowners with no public transportation available in their area: 50 percent.

Source: Bureau of the Census, 2005 American Housing Survey

Friday, October 06, 2006

How Many Illegals are in the U.S.?

According to a government report, 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the U.S. in 2005, up from 8.5 million in 2000—a 24 percent increase. Fifty-seven percent are from Mexico, followed by much smaller numbers from El Salvador (4 percent), Guatemala (4 percent), India (3 percent), China (2 percent), and other countries.

These figures come from the Department of Homeland Security. They were calculated using the "residual method" of population estimation. Researchers in the Office of Immigration Statistics subtracted the number of legal foreign-born residents (based on administrative data at the Department of Homeland Security) from the total number of foreign-born (based on estimates from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey), and the difference—or residual—is the number of illegals in the U.S.

The number of unauthorized immigrants is growing by 408,000 per year, according to the report.

Not surprisingly, California is home to the largest number of unauthorized immigrants—2.8 million or 26 percent of the total in 2005. Other states in the top five are Texas (1.4 million), Florida (850,000), New York (560,000), and Illinois (520,000). But the number of illegals is growing the fastest in Georgia, where it has more than doubled between 2000 and 2005—climbing from 220,000 to 470,000 between 2000 and 2005.