Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Go to College?

There are three reasons for going to college, according to Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart, and Jonathan Robe in their provocative policy paper, Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed?

Reason 1. To increase human capital and make workers more productive. (Probably overestimated, according to the authors, because "learning by doing is particularly underrated in the contribution it makes to raising the productivity of American workers.")

Reason 2. As a screening device for employers. (This is the crux of the matter. "The college degree is a signal to employers, and one they aggressively utilize," say the researchers. To an employer, a college degree means you're smarter and more persistent than the average person. How nice of you and your parents to bear the cost of this screening device.)

Reason 3. Because it's fun and good for you too. (The "country clubization" of higher education.)

Given the title of the paper, you know the authors do not look kindly on the "college for all" philosophy. In fact, they say, that philosophy explains why so many recent college graduates are underemployed. The U.S. labor force has 42 million employed college graduates and 29 million jobs that require a college degree (or should require one).

"We jokingly predict that colleges will offer a master's degree in Janitorial Studies within decade or two," conclude the authors, "and anyone seeking employment as a janitor will discover no one will hire unless proof of possession of such a degree is presented." 

Source: Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed?

Who You Gonna Call?

Among adults with two living parents, percent who have the most contact with...

Mom: 51%
Dad: 15%
Both: 34%

Source: Pew Research Center, The Sandwich Generation

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Debit Card Use, 1995 to 2010

Nearly 80 percent of American households (78%) were debit card users as of 2010, according to a study of electronic payments by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. This is up from 47 percent in 2001 and just 18 percent in 1995. Here is the percentage of households that used debit cards by age of householder in 1995, 2001, and 2010...

Under age 30
2010: 88.5%
2001: 60.6%
1995: 24.4%

Aged 30 to 59
2010: 84.1%
2001: 53.4%
1995: 19.7%

Aged 60 or older
2010: 62.3%
2001: 24.6%
1995: 9.6%

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Changes in the Use of Electronic Means of Payment: 1995-2010, Business Review, 3rd Quarter 2012

New Norms

Among Americans aged 40 to 59 with adult children, percent who have provided financial support to at least one adult child in the past year: 73%.

Source: Pew Research Center, The Sandwich Generation

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First-time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter, 2012

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2012: 48.6%

The homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 climbed by a substantial 1.7 percentage points between the third and fourth quarters of 2012, reaching 48.6 percent. Although this rate is well below the 50 percent threshold and 1 percentage point lower than a year earlier, nevertheless the increase is a bit of good news for a housing market that faces dismal demographics—downsizing boomers and indebted young adults. The homeownership rate in the nation as whole was 65.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was 0.6 percentage points below the 66.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group is the bellwether for the housing industry. Historically, the majority of householders have become homeowners in their early thirties. That is no longer the case as adults in their early thirties--many burdened by student loans--cannot afford to buy a home. In 2011, the annual homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group fell below 50 percent (to 48.9 percent) for the first time in the data series, which dates back to 1982.

It may be the homeownership rate is bottoming out among 30-to-34-year-olds. Such is not the case with the next older age groups. The steepest drops in the homeownership rate between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012 occurred among householders aged 35 to 39 (down 1.9 percentage points to 56.5 percent) and 40 to 44 (down 2.1 percentage points to 63.7 percent).

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Data Reveals Job Change

Sometimes a social science research project is so big, so original, and so definitive that you know it's destined to become a classic in the field. Such is the case with Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000. In this study, economists Guy Michaels, Ferdinand Rauch, and Stephen J. Redding analyze the verbs (yes, verbs) used to describe jobs in the U.S. Dictionary of Occupational Titles during a 120 year time period (yes, 120 years). They do this by geographic area, correlating their findings with the spread of telephone service and transportation networks. They discover "a systematic reallocation of employment over time towards interactive occupations, which involve tasks described by verbs that appear in thesaurus categories concerned with thought, communication and inter-social activity."

Their research reveals that the increased interactiveness of employment is significantly greater in cities than in rural areas. The growing interactiveness of jobs, they suggest, is the engine of agglomeration (urban growth). Here is the number-one verb used to describe the jobs that were most highly concentrated in urban areas by selected year...

1880: thread
1900: thread
1920: file
1940: file
1960: document
1980: identify
2000: develop

There's so much more in this study--too much to report in a few short paragraphs. And hopefully, there will be much more to come, such as updates of this research to capture the unfolding Internet Age.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Task Specialization in U.S. Cities from 1880-2000, NBER Working Paper 18715 ($5)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Educational Attainment in 2012

During the Vietnam War, millions of young men went to college to avoid the draft. Consequently, older baby boomers became the best-educated Americans in history. Similar forces are at work today, but instead of the draft driving younger adults onto college campuses, it's the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Americans under age 45 are now more likely than older boomers (aged 55 to 64) to have a bachelor's degree.

Percent with bachelor's degree in 2012
Total, 25-plus: 30.9%
Aged 25-34: 34.1%
Aged 35-44: 34.7%
Aged 45-54: 30.5%
Aged 55-64: 31.2%
Aged 65-plus: 24.3%

Source: Census Bureau, Educational Attainment

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Household Income Stable in December 2012

Median household income did not change between November and December 2012, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The December median of $51,088 was $83 less than the November median, a change that was not statistically significant.

Median household income in December 2012 was 4.6 percent lower than the median in June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 7.0 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 7.9 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for December 2012 was 92.1 (January 2000 = 100.0). 

For details on monthly changes in household income since January 2000, a spreadsheet is available from Sentier's web site for $25.00.

Source: Sentier Research, Trends in Household Income: December 2012

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Dearth of Computer Skills

Every fall since 1966 (nearly 50 years!), UCLA's Cooperative Institutional Research Program has surveyed American college freshmen, asking them about their demographics, high school experiences, college choices, attitudes toward issues, and future plans. The survey results reveal not only what current freshmen are thinking and doing but how freshmen have changed over two generations. Many of the survey's questions have remained the same over the years, but others have been updated as times change. For example, "Your mother's occupation?" was added in 1971. "Is English your native language?" was added in 1987. Students were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement "Same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status" beginning in 1997.

Not surprisingly, the survey's questions about computers have evolved over the past few decades. In the list of past-year activities, "Used a personal computer" appeared in 1985 (when 27 percent had used one). "Playing video games" appeared in 1995, and "Used the Internet for research or homework" in 1998. More recently, the survey added a question about whether students had used online social networks, such as Facebook. The survey also asks students to rate their abilities, and computer skill was added to the ability list in 1999. Only about one-third of college freshmen say their computer skills are above average.

This is unfortunate, since computer production (rather than consumption) skills are as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic in the Internet Age. With that in mind, it might be time for the freshmen survey to track the development of computer production skills in more detail by asking college freshmen whether in the past 12 months they had learned a programming language, written a piece of software, designed a web site, produced a blog, or created an app. The answers to these questions might reveal more about the future wellbeing of young adults than questions about video games or Facebook.

Source: UCLA, Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Higher Education Research Institute, The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2012

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Joke of Self-Employment

Self-employment does not work in the United States. Thanks to our employment-based health insurance system and the difficulty and cost of obtaining health insurance as an individual, few Americans want to work for themselves. That's why self-employment rises during recessions (when there are no other options) and falls as the economy recovers.

The Census Bureau's report on trends in self-employment between 2010 and 2011 finds exactly this pattern. The percentage of American workers who are self-employed fell between 2010 and 2011 as the economy recovered from the Great Recession. Both the incorporated and the non-incorporated self-employed declined as a share of the nation's employed. In 2011, 3.4 percent of workers were incorporated self-employed and another 6.2 percent were non-incorporated self-employed. Both figures were lower in 2011 than in 2010, which, according to the Census Bureau is "consistent with research finding that an expanding economy encourages exits from self-employment by increasing opportunities in the wage-work sector of the labor market."

Source: Census Bureau, Changes in Self-Employment: 2010 to 2011

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Rise of the Educated

In 1950, only 33 percent of Americans aged 25 or older had a high school diploma. In 2012, almost the same proportion (31 percent) has a bachelor's degree.

In 1950, only 6 percent of Americans aged 25 or older had a bachelor's degree. In 2012, nearly twice as many (11 percent) have a graduate degree.

Source: Census Bureau, Educational Attainment

January 23,1993

Happy Birthday, Internet! Twenty years ago today, Mosaic was born. Mosaic was the first graphical Internet browser for the mass market. Shortly before its release, there were only 26 web sites in the world. The rest is history.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Many Spend on Health Care?

More than 80 percent of Americans spend on health care during an average year. Here is the percentage with a health care expense in 2010, by type of expense...

Any health care expense: 85%
Office-based provider: 72%
Prescription medication: 61%
Dental service: 40%
Hospital outpatient: 14%
Emergency room: 12%
Hospital inpatient: 7%
Home health care: 2%

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, National Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2010

The Wealth Effect Revisited

When housing prices rise, Americans spend more. When housing prices fall, they spend less. This is the finding of a new National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists Karl E. Case, John M. Quigley, and Robert J. Shiller.

Of course, we already knew that a rise in housing values boosts spending. We could see it happening in the early 2000s. What we didn't know was that a decline in housing values reduces spending significantly. We didn't know because we had to wait for a housing crash, then measure its effect on spending. The NBER study compares housing values and household spending from 1975 through 2012, capturing the housing crash and subsequent spending cuts. Now we know.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Wealth Effects Revisited: 1975-2012, NBER Working Paper 18667, ($5)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Socializing with Parents

The 60 percent majority of today's young adults, aged 21 to 26, socialize with their parents at least once a week. In contrast, only 42 percent of baby boomers socialized with their parents at least once a week when they were young adults.

Source: AARP, AARP The Magazine Generations Study

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Most Popular Sports

When Americans are asked to pick their favorite sport, the top five are...

Pro football: 34%
Baseball: 16%
College football: 11%
Auto racing: 8%
Men's pro basketball: 7%

Source: Harris Interactive, Football Continues to be America's Favorite Sport; the Gap with Baseball Narrows Slightly This Year

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Real vs Facebook Friends

Do real friends make you happier than Facebook friends? That is the question addressed in a National Bureau of Economic Research study, and the answer is yes. The more real friends you have, the greater your well-being. In contrast, well-being does not rise with an increase in Facebook friends.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Median Age of the Sciences

Median age of...

Biomedical engineers: 31.1
Mathematicians: 36.4
Software developers: 39.4
Civil engineers: 42.5
Mechanical engineers: 42.5
Electrical engineers: 45.0
Architects: 46.7

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tables from the 2012 Current Population Survey

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walk-Ins Welcome

Percentage of Americans who have used a walk-in health clinic in a retail store, such as CVS's MinuteClinic, in the past two years, by age...

Total: 19%
18-24: 24%
25-29: 26%
40-49: 20%
50-64: 16%
65-plus: 14%

Source: Harris Interactive, Popularity of 'Walk-In' Retail Health Clinics Keeps Growing: Poll

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Always in Touch

Frequency with which young adults, aged 21 to 26, communicate with one of their parents...

Every day: 62%
Once a week: 29%
Less than weekly: 9%

Parents and children communicate more often than they did a generation ago, according to AARP. When the baby-boom generation was in its early twenties, 41 percent communicated with a parent every day, 38 percent once a week, and 22 percent less than weekly.

Source: AARP, AARP The Magazine Generations Study

Surviving Global Warming

Since 2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States, it's fortunate we humans are so good at adapting to changing environments. We are already adapting to global warming, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis. The NBER study examines mortality rates associated with hot days (defined as a temperature exceeding 90 degrees) and finds a sharp decline in heat-related mortality rates over the past century.

Between 1960 and 2004, hot days resulted in about 600 premature deaths per year in the United States, much less than the 3,600 deaths that would have occurred given the heat-related mortality rates of the 1900-1959 time period. Only one thing explains the decline, say the researchers: air conditioning, a technological adaptation that will help "mitigate the temperature related mortality impact of climate change."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S> Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century, NBER Working Paper   18692, ($5)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And the Beat Goes On

Really? The number of students enrolled in college is projected to grow steadily through 2021, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Both public and private colleges and universities are forecast to make steady gains.

College enrollment
2010 (actual): 21,016,000
2021 (projected): 24,092,000

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2021

Household Energy Spending

The average American household spends $2,000 a year on energy for their home, including heating, cooling, and lighting. This is where the money goes...

Space heating: $593
Water heating: $280
Air conditioning: $237
Refrigeration: $153
Other uses: $827

Note: Other uses include cooking, clothes washing and drying, dishwashing, televisions, computers, lighting, small electrical appliances, hot tubs, pools, etc.
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Monday, January 14, 2013

Immigrant Orphan Adoptions

American citizens adopted 9,504 immigrant orphans in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. More than half the orphans were born in three countries: China (27 percent), Ethiopia (18 percent), or Russia (10 percent).

Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Median Age of the Arts

Median age of...

Dancers: 26.9
Actors: 33.3
Musicians: 43.2
Artists: 45.3
Writers: 46.1

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tables from the 2012 Current Population Survey

Sunday, January 13, 2013

No Source of Health Care

One in five Americans has no usual source of health care such as a primary care physician, doctor's office, clinic, or hospital from which they receive medical care. Among people aged 18 to 64 without health insurance, the 55 percent majority is without a usual health care provider.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Access to Care Data Tables

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Waiting for Social Security

The age at which Americans become eligible for full Social Security benefits has climbed to 66, but many still choose to retire at 65. Why do so many older Americans jump the gun, reducing their retirement income? That's the question posed by researchers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, and their analysis shows why: Medicare eligibility.

Because people become eligible for Medicare at age 65, many choose to retire then rather than wait for full retirement age at 66. Interestingly, workers without access to retiree health benefits through their employer are much more likely to take their job and shove it as soon as they become eligible for Medicare. Those with access to retiree health benefits through their employer are more likely to wait the additional year before collecting Social Security. "The result fits into extensive research showing that access to health insurance is an important component of the retirement decision," the researchers conclude. So too is job quality. Workers with access to retiree health benefits through their employer are likely to have better jobs, which makes it easier to wait for full retirement age.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Sticky Ages: Why is Age 65 Still a Retirement Peak?

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Job Engine is Fragile

Of the 155,000 jobs added to the economy in December 2012, an oversized 42 percent were in the education and healthcare services sector, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. During the past five years, the education and healthcare services sector gained 2 million jobs, while the rest of the economy lost 5.9 million.

The fact that education and health care are powering the nation's job growth is a sign of trouble ahead. Education is poised for a fall as students and families max out on debt (see, for example, the story about declining enrollments in the New York Times). Although the health care sector is certain to grow with the aging of the baby-boom generation, implementation of the Affordable Care Act could destabilize this powerhouse. Bottom line: the nation's job engine is fragile. (For more on the dangers of fragility, see Nassim Nicholas Taleb's excellent new book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.)

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Employment in Education and Healthcare Services

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top Smartphone Activities

These are the top five smartphone activities and the percentage of smartphone owners who regularly perform the activity...

1. Texting: 87%
2. Mapping/navigation: 73%
3. Reading/sending emails: 72%
4. Downloading free apps/music/videos: 66%
5. Using social media (Facebook/Twitter): 64%

Source: Harris Interactive, Different Priorities in Smartphone vs. Computer Use, But Some Common Ground

Hot and Cold

Average number of Americans who die each year from "exposure to excessive natural heat" and "exposure to excessive natural cold."

Heat: 618
Cold: 1,301

Source, CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, Heat-Related Deaths and Hypothermia-Related Deaths

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Public School Minority Majority in 2016

Non-Hispanic whites will become a minority in the nation's public elementary and secondary schools in 2016, according to new school enrollment projections by the National Center for Education Statistics. In that year, non-Hispanic white children will be 49.6 percent of the 51 million students enrolled in public schools, down from the 51 percent majority today. Hispanics will account for 25.3 percent of students in 2016, blacks (alone) will be 15.6 percent of the total, Asians (alone) will be another 5.6 percent, students of two or more races 2.7 percent, and American Indians (alone) 1.2 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2021

When Bad News is Good News

Although the Great Recession was in full steam in 2008, Americans of all ages were optimistic. Fully 66 percent believed today's youth would have a better life than their parents, according to Gallup. In 2010, despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn, 62 percent of the public still felt that way. Now, however, the mood has darkened. Only 49 percent of Americans believe today's youth will be better off than their parents.

Behind the nation's funk is the growing pessimism of older generations. Among people aged 35 to 54, the percentage who believe today's youth will be better off than their parents has fallen 17 percentage points during the past four years--from 65 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2012. Among people aged 55 or older, the figure fell from 63 to 45 percent during those years. In contrast, among Americans aged 18 to 34, the 57 percent majority remains upbeat. While this figure is down from 69 percent in 2008, the decline among young adults has been much more modest than for their parents and grandparents.

Could the growing pessimism of older generations be good news, however? Is it a measure of the frustration and helplessness felt by older generations in the face of historic technological and social change? Does it mean the status quo is crumbling, industrial-age thinking is disappearing, and politics and policies are being transformed by the Internet Age? Let's hope so.

Source: Gallup, Americans Divided on Outlook for Next Generation

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Life is What Happens

Current marital status of women aged 40 to 44...

In a union
In first marriage: 49.6%
In second or higher marriage: 13.6% 
Not married, living with partner: 7.2%

Not in a union
Never married, not cohabiting: 10.2%
Former married, not cohabiting: 19.4%

Who Belongs?

The average middle-aged or older American belongs to 3.7 organizations, according to a study of community involvement by AARP. The number is highest among Gen Xers (aged 31 to 47) at 4.9. It falls to 3.8 among Boomers (aged 48 to 66) and the Silent generation (aged 67 to 83), and bottoms out at 2.8 among Americans aged 84 or older.

Membership in a religious organization is most popular, at 59 percent, making it the only type of organization to which the majority of middle-aged or older Americans belong. Far behind in second place is a health club, of which 23 percent of middle-aged or older Americans are members. Professional/trade/business organizations rank third, followed by neighborhood/homeowners associations.

The majority of each generation belongs to a religious organization. Membership in health clubs is highest among Gen Xers (31 percent), is a lower 22 to 23 percent among Boomers and the Silent Generation, and falls to 9 percent among Americans aged 84 or older. Membership in a neighborhood/homeowners association does not vary much by age, ranging from 18 to 21 percent.

Source: AARP, Civic Engagement among Mid-Life and Older Adults: Findings from the 2012 Survey on Civic Engagement

Monday, January 07, 2013

What Renters Want: Location, Location, Location

Among renters who moved between 2010 and 2011, the single most important reason for choosing their new neighborhood was its convenience to their job. This factor was named as the most important reason for choosing a neighborhood by 2 million renters who moved.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Religious Affiliation of Congress

The religious affiliation of the 113 Congress differs by political party...

Democrats: 42.0%
Republicans: 69.1%

Democrats: 36.5%
Republicans: 25.2%

Democrats: 12.5%
Republicans: 0.4%

Democrats: 1.2%
Republicans: 4.3%

Orthodox Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Unitarian, Unaffiliated, Don't Know/Refused
Democrats: 7.9%
Republicans: 0.0%

Source: The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Falling Asleep while Driving

This is scary. According to a study by the CDC, there are a lot of drowsy drivers on the road--and admittedly so. Fully 4.2% of Americans aged 18 or older say they have fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. By state, drivers in Texas are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel, with 6.1 percent doing so in the past month.

Source: CDC, Drowsy Driving--19 States and the District of Columbia, 2009-2010

Friday, January 04, 2013

Trends in Student Loan Debt, 1994 to 2009

More debtors and bigger debts. That's the bottom line in a report on trends in student loans from the National Center for Education Statistics.

More debtors: The percentage of first-time bachelor's degree recipients who borrowed to pay for college climbed from 49.3 percent in 1994 to 65.6 percent in 2009.

Bigger debts: The cumulative amount borrowed by first-time bachelor's degree recipients for their undergraduate education ballooned from $14,700 in 1994 (in 2009 dollars) to $24,700 in 2009--an increase of 68 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in Debt for Bachelor's Degree Recipients a Year after Graduation: 1994, 2001, 2009

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Are Smart Machines Hurting Young Adults?

The always insightful economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Jeffrey D. Sachs have written a new, thought provoking paper that begins to get at what is missing in the lives of today's young adults. In the paper, Smart Machines and Long-Term Misery, Kotlikoff and Sachs argue that smart machines are substituting for young unskilled labor and complementing older skilled labor. The result is that our children and their descendants will be worse off as the wages of unskilled young adults decline. They present a model of how this works, and certainly the income trends back them up.

But wait a minute. Aren't young adults supposed to be tech savvy? Don't older adults sneer at smart machines? Kotlikoff and Sachs are on to something, but what they've unearthed may be more complex than a generation gap in skills. In fact, there is a subset of the young who are tech savvy, the leading edge of Internet development, and highly rewarded for their skills. Then there are the others--the larger segment of young adults who have been raised and educated to be tech consumers rather than producers and now face a lifetime of low wages as ever-smarter machines substitute for their labor. These impoverished younger generations are a creation of the older generations--a society more concerned with protecting its children from the Internet than making sure its children can produce for the Internet.

So Kotlikoff and Sachs are right: the old have benefited more than the young from technological change, partly because--as the authors explain--the old are the owners and managers of the businesses profiting from technology. Inertia plays a role as well--the decade or two it takes for industries to collapse after being hit by the Internet wave, all the while providing a living to middle-aged and older workers. But the bigger reason the young are falling behind is this: the old have failed (are still failing!) to teach them how to program and produce for the Internet Age. Learning to program is as necessary for unskilled labor in the Internet Age as reading, writing, and arithmetic were to unskilled labor in the Industrial Age.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Smart Machines and Long-Term Misery, NBER Working Paper 18629 ($5)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Sleeping Giant Awakens

Percent of Americans who think the Newtown school shootings could happen in their community, by selected characteristics...

White: 54%
Middle-aged: 56%
Suburban: 59%

Source: Gallup, Parents' Fear for Children's Safety at School Rises Slightly

The Invincibles

Twelve percent of Americans aged 18 or older think they are so healthy they don't need health insurance, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. This attitude is most common among 18-to-29-year-olds (21%), Hispanics (17%), and--not surprisingly--the uninsured (23%). Among the uninsured aged 18 to 64, fully 34 percent think they are too healthy for insurance.

Of course they're delusional, a fender bender away from realizing how wrong they are. Many of these What-Me-Worries change their mind--and soon. When the government tracked the number of Americans who believe they are too healthy for health insurance over a two-year period, only 5 percent felt invincible in both years.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Attitudes toward Health Insurance and Their Persistence over Time, Adults 2009-2010

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Six Decades of Drinking

Percent of adults who drink alcoholic beverages, 1952 and 2012...

1952: 60%
2012: 66%

1952: 53%
2012: 64%

Source: Gallup Poll results published in Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online