Monday, November 30, 2015

Most Millennials Say Finances Are Improving

Thirty-six percent of Americans aged 18 or older think their financial situation is improving, according to the 2014 General Social Survey. This figure is higher than it was in 2010, when only 25 percent felt things were getting better. Older Americans are least likely to feel this way (15 percent), largely because most are on fixed incomes. Young adults are most likely to feel upbeat. The majority of Millennials in 2014 said their finances were getting better...

Percent of Millennials who say their financial situation is getting better
2014: 54.1%
2012: 39.1%
2010: 34.2%

Note: Millennials were aged 20 to 37 in 2014.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, November 27, 2015

Empty Piggy Banks

How much money could the typical household access within 30 days to cover the cost of a financial shock? According to the Survey of American Family Finances, the median household could get its hands on just $3,000 within 30 days. That's not much of a buffer, and it includes credit cards and help from friends and family.

In the second of three reports on the finances of American households, Pew Charitable Trusts examines the financial assets available to families when they experience a financial shock. That's when, not if. Financial shocks are the norm. Fully 60 percent of households experienced a financial shock in the past year, according to the findings of Pew's first report, available here.

One of the most important resources for weathering a financial shock is liquid savings, which Pew defines as money in a checking or savings account, cash saved at home, and the value of unused prepaid cards. The typical household has only $3,800 in liquid savings, and a substantial one in four has less than $400.

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts, What Resources Do Families Have for Financial Emergencies?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Median Age at First Marriage: 2015

Women: The median age of women marrying for the first time inched up to 27.1 in 2015, a bit higher than the 27.0 of 2014 and a full seven years above the all-time low of 20.1 in 1956.

Men: The median age of men marrying for the first time fell slightly to 29.2 in 2015, a bit lower than the 29.3 of 2014 and nearly seven years greater than the 22.5 low of 1956.

Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements, Historical Time Series

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Who Wants Private Health Insurance?

Most Americans now believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure all Americans have health insurance, finds a Gallup survey, up from 45 percent who felt that way just one year ago. But there are big differences in attitudes by age: fully 68 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds think it's the federal government's responsibility compared with only 38 percent of the elderly, who are universally covered by the federal government's Medicare system.

When Gallup asked the public whether it would prefer a government-run health insurance system or one based on private insurance, the 55 percent majority still favors private rather than public. Americans aged 65 or older are the ones most likely to favor a private health insurance system, despite the fact that they are covered by a public plan...

Percent who would rather have a private health insurance system
Aged 18 to 29: 45%
Aged 30 to 49: 56%
Aged 50 to 64: 58%
Aged 65-plus: 63%

Source: Gallup, In U.S., 51% Say Government Should Ensure Healthcare Coverage

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Do Hispanics Live Longer?

Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic Whites, a life expectancy advantage known as the "Hispanic Paradox" because no one can explain it. Given the relatively low socioeconomic status of Hispanics, their life expectancy should be well below that of non-Hispanic Whites. Instead, Hispanic life expectancy at birth is 2.6 years greater.

In an effort to explain the paradox, researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics analyzed death rates to determine which causes of death are killing non-Hispanic Whites at a higher rate than Hispanics. The finding: it's the big ones. Hispanics are less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to die from cancer, heart disease, accidents, suicide, chronic lower respiratory disease, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's. Lower death rates from cancer alone account for a quarter of the 2.6 year life expectancy advantage of Hispanics over non-Hispanic Whites.

Why are Hispanics less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to die from cancer, heart disease, and other major causes of death? No one has the answer to that question, and so the Hispanic Paradox continues.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, How Does Cause of Death Contribute to the Hispanic Mortality Advantage in the United States?

Friday, November 20, 2015

The ACA and Time Use of Young Adults

The Affordable Care Act is changing time use in the United States, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study. The expansion of dependent care coverage up to age 26 has reduced job-lock among young adults and resulted in shorter medical visits, particularly wait times, say NBER researchers after analyzing American Time Use Survey data. Medical visits are shorter, the researchers hypothesize, because young adults can now access routine medical care rather than relying on hospital ER care.

What are young adults doing with their extra hours and minutes? They are socializing more, going to school, and looking for work, say the researchers, concluding: "Availability of insurance and change in work time appear to have increased young adults' subjective well-being, enabling them to spend time on activities they view as more meaningful than those they did before insurance became available."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, It's About Time: Effects of the Affordable Care Act Dependent Coverage Mandate on Time Use, NBER Working Paper #21725 ($5)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Americans So-So on Financial Literacy

In a worldwide survey of financial literacy, the United States scored only so-so for a major advanced economy. Fifty-seven percent of Americans correctly answered three of four financial literacy questions: understanding interest rates, compound interest, inflation, and risk diversification. Among the 144 nation's included in the survey, the U.S. ranked 14th. Norway was number one, with 71 percent of  its residents able to answer three of the four questions. Yemen was last, with only 13 percent answering three questions correctly.

Within the United States, financial literacy varies by demographic characteristic. Men are more literate than women (62 versus 52 percent). The middle-aged (aged 35 to 54) are more literate than younger or older adults (65 versus 57 percent), and the richest 60 percent of Americans are more literate than the poorest 40 percent (64 versus 47 percent).

Source: Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Six Kinds of Debt

Fully 89 percent of Americans with credit records fall into one of six debt types, according to an Urban Institute analysis of millions of credit records over a five-year period of time...
  • 29% have no debt
  • 22% have only credit card debt
  • 13% have only mortgage debt
  • 12% have only vehicle debt
  • 9% have vehicle and mortgage debt
  • 4% have only student loan debt
These "debt styles" depend on lifestage, of course. Mortgage debt, for example, peaks at 41 percent among consumers aged 48 to 52. Student loans peak at 23 percent among those aged 23 to 27. The Urban Institute report examines debt during the 2010-to-2014 time period by age of consumer, including loan balances and credit scores.

Source: Urban Institute, Americans' Debt Styles by Age and Over Time

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hate Crimes in 2014

There were 5,479 hate crime incidents in 2014, according to the FBI. Most (5,462) involved a single bias—meaning the perpetrator targeted only one characteristic (such as race, sexual orientation, etc.). Race is the single most frequently targeted characteristic, accounting for 47 percent of single-bias hate crimes in 2014. Sexual orientation and religion each accounted for 19 percent of the total, ethnicity for 12 percent, gender identity and disability for 2 percent each, and gender for the remaining 1 percent.

Top 10 hate crimes by targeted characteristic
Anti-Black: 1,621 (29.7%)
Anti-Jewish: 609 (11.1%)
Anti-gay: 599 (11.0%)
Anti-White: 593 (10.9%)
Anti-not Hispanic: 349 (6.4%)
Anti-Hispanic: 299 (5.5%)
Anti LGBT:  241 (4.4%)
Anti-Islamic: 154 (2.8%)
Anti-Asian: 140 (2.6%)
Anti-American Indian: 130 (2.4%)

There is some good news in the hate crime report. Most jurisdictions reported no hate crimes in 2014. Of the 15,494 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program, only 1,666 reported the occurrence of a hate crime.

Source: FBI, 2014 Hate Crime Statistics

Monday, November 16, 2015

Obesity by Age, 2011-14

When it comes to measuring obesity, the federal government doesn't fool around with self-reported heights and weights. That's because, given the chance, many people overestimate their height and underestimate their weight. Rather than ask people for their measurements, the federal government takes them—measuring the height and weight of a representative sample of Americans across the country. After collecting the numbers, Body Mass Index is calculated (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). In adults, obesity is defined as a BMI equal to or greater than 30. In children, obesity is defined as a BMI equal to or greater than the age- and sex-specific 95th percentile of the CDC's growth charts.

According to measurements taken in 2011-14, a substantial 36.3 percent of adults (aged 20 or older) were obese, up from 30.5 percent in 1999-2000. Among youth (under age 20), 17.0 percent were obese, up from 13.9% in 1999-2000. Here are the results by age...

Percent obese, 2011-14
Aged 2 to 5:       8.9%
Aged 6 to 11:    17.5%
Aged 12 to 19:  20.5%
Aged 20 to 39:  32.3%
Aged 40 to 59:  40.2%
Aged 60-plus:   37.0%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Prevalence of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011-2014

Friday, November 13, 2015

Still Stuck: Mobility Rate Near Record Low in 2014-15

Americans still aren't moving much. Only 11.6 percent of U.S. residents aged 1 or older as of March 2015 had moved in the previous 12 months, according to the Census Bureau. This mobility rate is just 0.1 percentage points above the all-time low of 11.5 percent recorded in 2013-14. The tiny increase was due to a bump up in movers from abroad.

Among homeowners, only 5.1 percent moved in the 2014-15 time period, higher than the all-time low of 4.7 percent in 2010-11. Among renters, the mobility rate fell to an all-time low of 24.0 percent in 2014-15. 

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Seismic Shift in Spending on Groceries

There has been "a seismic shift in how people eat," according to a New York Times headline. Per capita consumption of soda, orange juice, and cereal are all down as Americans more fresh food and less sugar, reports the Times. Consumer Expenditure Survey data confirm the Times story. Here are the trends in average household spending for selected groceries between 2006 (the year overall household spending peaked) and 2014....

Percent change in average household spending, 2006 to 2014 (in 2014 dollars)
23% decline in spending on ice cream
23% decline in spending on fresh fruit juice
22% decline in spending on cakes and cupcakes
16% decline in spending on carbonated drinks
16% decline in spending on canned and bottled fruit juice
10% decline in spending on cookies
9% decline in spending on cereal
5% decline in spending on candy and chewing gum

In contrast to these declines, the average household spent more on: bacon (31%), yogurt (31%), nuts (23%), fresh fruit (19%), and fresh vegetables (6%). Clearly, the New York Times is on to something.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Who Is Multiracial?

The size of the multiracial population depends on how questions about race are asked, reports Pew Research Center. In a test of how different questions produce different results, Pew surveyed a nationally representative sample of adults and found the following...

Standard two-questions: This is the methodology currently used in the decennial census, Current Population Survey, and American Community Survey. Respondents are first asked to select their race(s), then they are asked about Hispanic origin. Result: 3.7 percent of the population is multiracial.

Single question with Hispanic as an option: This single race-or-origin question is being considered for the 2020 census, replacing the above methodology. Respondents are asked to select their race or origin, with Hispanic as one of the choices. Result: 4.8 percent of the population is multiracial (not including Hispanic responses).

Family history questions: Respondents are asked not only about their own race but also the race of their parents and grandparents. Result: 6.9 percent of the population is multiracial. When respondents are asked about the race of great-grandparents and earlier ancestors, the multiracial share rises to 13.1 percent.

Source: Pew Research Center, Who Is Multiracial? Depends on How You Ask

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Household Income Distribution in 2014

Income distribution of American households in 2014 (and % of households with two or more earners)...

Less than $25,000: 24 percent (5%)
$25,000 to $49,999: 23 percent (23%)
$50,000 to $74,999: 17 percent (45%)
$75,000 to $99,999: 12 percent (61%)
$100,000 to $124,999: 8 percent (68%)
$125,000 to $149,999: 5 percent (74%)
$150,000 to $174,999: 4 percent (73%)
$175,000 to $199,999: 2 percent (77%)
$200,000 or more: 6 percent (76%)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2015 Current Population Survey

Monday, November 09, 2015

Television News Still Tops

Television still dominates the news. A 45 percent plurality of Americans say they get most of their information about events in the news from television. A smaller 35 percent get most of their news from the Internet, and 10 percent from newspapers. There are big differences by generation, however...

Percent who get most of their news from television
Millennials: 29%
Gen Xers: 49%
Boomers: 50%
Older: 65%

Percent who get most of their news from the Internet
Millennials: 57%
Gen Xers: 32%
Boomers: 27%
Older: 6%

Note: In 2014, Millennials were 20 to 37; Gen Xers were 38 to 49; Boomers were 50 to 68.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey

Friday, November 06, 2015

Demographic Story of the Week: Death Rate Rises

The death rate of middle-aged white Americans is rising, according to a study by Princeton economists Angus Deaton (winner of the 2015 Nobel prize) and Anne Case and reported in the New York Times. The rise in the death rate is occurring among whites aged 45 to 54 and is limited to those with  a high school diploma or less education. Behind the rise are more suicides and higher rates of drug and alcohol poisoning.

If you haven't already read this troubling story, you can read it here: Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Men 65-Plus Who Work Full-Time

Overall, 15.1 percent of men aged 65 or older work full-time, but the figure varies greatly by educational attainment...

Men aged 65 or older who work full-time by highest level of education
  7.5%: no high school diploma
12.6%: high school graduate only
15.0%: some college
14.5%: Associate's degree
20.7%: Bachelor's degree
16.8%: Master's degree
28.5%: Doctoral degree
32.6%: Professional degree

The pattern is the same for women, although the percentages are less. Among women aged 65 or older, the percentage who work full-time ranges from 4 percent among those with less than a high school education to a high of 24 percent among those with a professional degree.

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 Current Population Survey

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Epic Political Battle Is Religious Too

The political parties are divided by more than ideology. Religion also divides them...
  • The single largest religious block among Democrats is the unaffiliated (28%), followed by Catholics (21%), Evangelical Protestants (16%), Mainline Protestants (13%), and historically Black Protestants (12%).
  • The largest single religious block among Republicans is Evangelical Protestant (38%), followed by Catholics (21%), Mainline Protestants (17%), the unaffiliated (14%), and other Christian groups (4%).
Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Do People Run Out of Money In Retirement?

What are the chances you will run out of money in retirement? An Employee Benefit Research Institute study determined that 12 percent of older American have no assets of any kind at the time of death. But did they run out money or never have it to begin with?

It's likely they never had it, according to an NBER analysis of how the assets of older Americans change over time. "The level of assets of individuals approaching the end of life is determined primarily by the assets these individuals held many years earlier," the NBER researchers conclude after examining the assets of individuals in the Health and Retirement Study from first observation in 1992 or 1993 until their death. "Most of those with limited assets at death also had limited assets earlier in life. They did not run out of assets in retirement; they never had many assets to begin with."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, What Determines End-of-Life Assets? A Retrospective View, Working Paper 21682

Monday, November 02, 2015

60% of Households Experience Financial Shocks

In a year's time, most households experience a financial shock, according to Pew Charitable Trusts Survey of American Family Finances. In the survey, Pew asked a nationally representative sample of Americans whether they had experienced any of the following unexpected financial shocks: income cut; hospitalization; separation, divorce, or widowhood; major vehicle repair; major housing repair; or some other large unexpected expense. The 60 percent majority of households had experienced one or more shocks in the past 12 months...

30% had a major car repair
24% had a major home repair
24% experienced a hospital trip
24% experienced a pay cut
3% experienced separation, divorce, or widowhood
10% experienced other large, unexpected expenses

How much do these shocks set people back? The median cost of the average household's most expensive shock was $2,000, says Pew. Such shocks have psychological consequences. Among households that did not experience a shock, 64 percent reported feeling financially secure. Among those who did, only 41 percent felt secure. In the coming weeks, Pew will examine the resources available to families to help them weather these all too common financial shocks.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, How Do Families Cope with Financial Shocks?