Thursday, January 30, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2019

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, fourth quarter 2019: 57.8%

Ho-hum is the word that best describes the 4th quarter homeownership numbers released by the Census Bureau this morning. The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group, the nation's first-time homebuyers, was stable in the fourth quarter of 2019. Although the 57.8 percent rate for the age group in the fourth quarter was higher than its third quarter rate, it was below the age group's rate one year earlier. None of these bobbles are statistically significant. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. It bottomed out at 55.0 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The current rate is much closer to the bottom than the top.

What about their younger counterparts? Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time home buyers—defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds climbed in the fourth quarter, reaching 48.9 percent. But again, this rate is not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds peaked at 55.3 percent in 2007, fell below 50 percent in 2011, and has been stuck below that level ever since. 

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 65.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate reached an all-time high of 69.0 percent in 2004.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tripling in Young Adult Households with Student Loans

The percentage of young adult households with student loan debt has tripled over the past few decades, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis. Among all households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds, 46 percent had student loans in 2016—three times the 1989 figure. Here is the trend by type of household...

Percent of married-couple householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 46%
1989: 15%

Percent of cohabiting householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 50%
1989: 10%

Percent of single-person householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 45%
1989: 17%

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, As Fewer Young Adults Wed, Married Couples' Wealth Surpasses Others'

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Outcomes for Adults Who Had Been in Foster Care

Foster care may be the best solution for a bad situation, but children who experience foster care face a lifetime of struggle, according to the 2011–2017 National Survey of Family Growth. Overall, 2.6 percent of adults aged 18 to 44 had ever been in foster care. The National Center for Health Statistics compared their characteristics with those of their peers who had never experienced foster care. It's no surprise that children who have been taken into foster care are more likely to be disadvantaged as adults, but the magnitude of the disadvantage is disturbing.

More likely to be sexually active by age 15: 59 percent of men and 55 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had sexual intercourse for the first time by age 15. This compares with 28 percent of men and 25 percent of women who had never been in foster care.

More likely to have a first birth by age 20: 51 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had a first birth by age 20. This compares with a smaller 23 percent of women who had never been in foster care. Among men, the comparable figures are 30 and 9 percent, respectively.

Less likely to be currently married: Only 30 percent of men and 22 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care are currently married. This compares with 40 percent of men and 42 percent of women who were never in foster care.

Less likely to be high school graduates: Fully 25 percent of men and 21 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care are high school dropouts. This compares with 12 and 10 percent of men and women who had never been in foster care, respectively.

Less likely to have a bachelor's degree: Only 5 percent of men and 9 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had a bachelor's degree. This compares with 31 percent of men and 36 percent of women who had never been in foster care.

More likely to receive public assistance: Fully 52 percent of men and 67 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care received public assistance in the past 12 months. The comparable figures for men and women who had never been in foster care are 24 and 33 percent, respectively.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Family Growth, Demographic, Health Care, and Fertility-Related Characteristics of Adults Aged 18 to 44 Who Have Ever Been in Foster Care: United States, 2011–2017

Monday, January 27, 2020

Non-Hispanic White Share of Public School Students by Urbanicity

Non-Hispanic whites are a minority of the nation's public school students, accounting for 48.9 percent of elementary and secondary students in 2015, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But the share of non-Hispanic whites varies greatly by urbanicity...

Non-Hispanic white share of public elementary and secondary school students
20.2% in large cities (city population of 250,000 or more)
32.6% in mid-sized cities (city population of 100,000 to 250,000)
46.0% in small cities (city population below 100,000)
47.8% in large suburbs (suburb of city with 250,000 or more population)
59.9% in mid-sized suburbs (suburb of city with population of 100,000 to 250,000)
63.6% in small suburbs (suburb of city with population below 100,000)
67.1% in fringe towns (urban cluster 10 miles or less from an urbanized area)
64.8% in distant towns (urban cluster 10 to 35 miles from an urbanized area)
58.3% in remote towns (urban cluster 35-plus miles from an urbanized area)
65.9% in fringe rural areas (not in an urban cluster, less than 5 miles from an urbanized area)
79.3% in distant rural areas (not in an urban cluster, 5 to 25 miles from an urbanized area)
73.1% in remote rural areas (not in an urban cluster, 25-plus miles from an urbanized area)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, School Choice in the United States, 2019

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Curve of Happiness

Happiness is a u-shaped curve, says Dartmouth economist David G. Blanchflower. Young adults are relatively happy. As they age into their middle years, fewer feel happy—perhaps because of troubles with their children, spouse, career, or finances. Happiness bottoms out in middle-age. But that's not the end of it. Things get better as people reach their golden years, with a growing percentage feeling happy again.

The u-shape of happiness occurs not just in the United States but around the world. Blanchflower examines the relationship between age and happiness in 132 countries. Happiness reaches its lowest point at age 48.2 in developing countries and age 47.2 in advanced countries. "The happiness curve is everywhere," he concludes.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, David G. Blanchflower, Unhappiness and Age, Working Paper No. 26642 ($5); and Is Happiness U-Shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Wellbeing in 132 Countries, Working Paper No. 26641 ($5)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

52% Think Earth Is Warming Due to Human Activity

A slim majority of American adults think the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 52 percent majority feel this way. Another 17 percent agree the earth is warming but they think it is mostly because of natural patterns in the environment. A substantial 21 percent are outright deniers: they think there is no solid evidence of global warming.

Young adults are most likely to think the earth is warming because of human activity, while people aged 50 or older are least likely to feel this way.

Percent who say the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity
Aged 18 to 29: 69%
Aged 30 to 49: 54%
Aged 50 to 64: 43%
Aged 65-plus: 44%

Among people aged 50 or older, those who believe the earth is warming due to human activity are outnumbered by those who don't believe it is warming, who think warming is due to natural patterns, or who don't know what to think. Greta Thunberg has work to do.

Source: Pew Research Center, In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

High School Dropout Rate: 5.4%

Among the nation's 16-to-24-year-olds, 5.4 percent are high school dropouts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES defines dropouts as those who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school credential.

The high school dropout rate varies by race, Hispanic origin, and ethnicity. Here are the rates for selected groups in 2017, from highest to lowest...

Percent of 16-to-24-year-olds not enrolled in school and without a high school credential, 2017
Alaskan Native: 15.1%
American Indian: 9.6%
Hispanic: 8.2%
  Puerto Rican: 9.3%
  Mexican: 7.9%
  Dominican: 7.0%
  Cuban: 6.6%
Black: 6.5%
Non-Hispanic White: 4.3%
Asian: 2.1%
  Filipino: 2.0%
  Vietnamese: 1.9%
  Korean: 1.6%
  Chinese: 1.1%

Among Hispanics, the dropout rate differs depending on whether the young adult is native- or foreign-born. The dropout rate is just 6.3 percent for those born in the United States. Among the foreign-born, the dropout rate is a much higher 15.2 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates  in the United States: 2019

Monday, January 20, 2020

Labor Force Participation Rates, 1948 to 2018

The lives of men and women were vastly different in 1948. Only 1 in 3 women was in the labor force in those post-war years compared with nearly 9 of of 10 men. Today, the lives of men and women are much more similar. The gap in the labor force participation rate between women and men has fallen from nearly 54 to just 12 percentage points over the past seven decades.

Women's labor force participation rate peaked in 1999 at 60.0 percent. It has fallen slightly in recent years because the large baby-boom generation is retiring. Some of the recent decline in men's labor force participation rate is for the same reason.

Labor force participation rate by sex, 1948 to 2018

   women   men
2018      57.1%   69.1%
2008      59.5   73.0
1998      59.8   74.9
1988      56.6   76.2
1978      50.0   77.9
1968      41.6   80.1
1958      37.1   84.2
1948      32.7   86.6

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: a Databook

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.