Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Life Expectancy in U.S. Falling Further and Further Behind Peer Countries

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined by 1.87 years between 2018 and 2020, according to an Urban Institute study. This decline was 8.5 times greater than the 0.22 average decline of 16 peer (high-income) countries. Not only did the U.S. suffer a disproportionate number of Covid-19 deaths overall, but the higher death rates among Blacks and Hispanics also contributed to our growing disadvantage in life expectancy.

For more than a decade, life expectancy at birth in the United States has been falling further behind life expectancy in peer countries. The difference in life expectancy between the U.S. and the 16 peer countries average was 1.88 years in 2010. The difference had grown to 3.05 years by 2018. In 2020, U.S. life expectancy was an even greater 4.69 years behind life expectancy in the peer countries. 

"A longstanding and widening U.S. health disadvantage, high death rates in 2020, and continued inequitable effects on racial and ethnic minority groups are likely the products of longstanding policy choices and systemic racism," the study concludes. 

Source: Urban Institute, Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020 on Life Expectancy across Populations in the USA and other High Income Countries: Simulations of Provisional Mortality Data

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Nearly Half Think They Will Get Dementia

Americans overestimate their chances of developing dementia, according to an AARP survey. Nearly half (48 percent) of adults aged 40 or older say it is somewhat/very/extremely likely that they will get dementia as they get older. In fact, only 14 percent of people aged 71 or older have dementia. 

The widespread sense of impending doom may be due to the fact that most know someone now or in the past who has/had dementia. The 51 percent majority of adults aged 40 or older say they currently have or had in the past a close friend or relative with dementia. Not surprisingly, the percentage who have/had a close friend or relative with dementia rises with age...

Percent of adults aged 40-plus who have/had a close friend or relative with dementia
Aged 40 to 49: 42%
Aged 50 to 59: 50%
Aged 60 to 69: 55%
Aged 70-plus: 58%

Monday, June 28, 2021

Births Declined in All 50 States

The results are in. The coronavirus pandemic led to a substantial decline in births in the United States. There were fewer births in the United States in every month of 2020 than in the same month of 2019, the National Center for Health Statistics reports. The decline during the second half of the year (6 percent) was greater than the decline in the first half of the year (2 percent). The biggest decline occurred in December, with 8 percent fewer births in 2020 than in December 2019. 

"The impact of the pandemic on the United States in 2020 varied by month," the NCHS reports. "The impact also varied widely by state as the infection spread across the United States." 

In the first half of 2020, the number of births fell in 20 states due to the long-term trend of declining fertility. In comparison, 27 states had declining births in the first half of 2019. 

In the second half of 2020, the effects of the pandemic began to emerge. The number of births declined in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In comparison, births declined in only 9 states in the second half of 2019. Here are the states with the largest declines...

States with the largest decline in births, second half of 2020 versus 2019
-11% in New Mexico
  -9% in New York
  -8% in California
  -8% in Hawaii
  -8% in West Virginia

The remaining states and D.C. had declines of 3 to 7 percent. 

"Evaluation of trends in births by month will continue to determine whether these declines continued into 2021 or were unique to 2020 during the time of the initial Covid-19 pandemic," the NCHS concludes.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data, Declines in Births by Month: United States, 2020

Thursday, June 24, 2021

All of the Above

Among U.S. adults...

85% own a smartphone
77% own a desktop/laptop computer
77% have a broadband connection at home
53% own a tablet computer 

But how many Americans aged 18 or older have all of the above? It depends on their household income, according to a Pew Research Center survey...

Percent of U.S. adults who have "all of the above"
23% of those with household incomes below $30,000
42% of those with household incomes of $30,000 to $99,999
63% of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

What Is the Probability You Will Need Long-Term Care?

Older Americans face a great unknown: will they or won't they need potentially costly long-term care as they age. Researchers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR) wanted to shed some light on this great unknown, assigning probabilities to the need for long-term care. The goal, say the researchers, "is to help retirees, their families, and policymakers better understand the likelihood that 65-year-olds—over the course of their retirement—will experience disability that seems manageable, catastrophic, or somewhere in-between."

Not all long-term care needs are the same. Some older people will need long-term care only for a short period of time or for specific tasks that can be readily done by willing family members, making the financial burden manageable. Other older people will need long-term care not only for years but also for vital tasks such as bathing, eating, and toileting, which usually require professional help. This more intense long-term care can become an unmanageable financial burden if a lengthy stay in a long-term care facility is required. 

The CRR researchers wanted to determine the probabilities of each type of long-term care. They sorted potential long-term care needs into three categories based on two factors—the length of time care is needed and the type of care required. They labeled the three categories minimal (help needed for mundane tasks only, such as shopping or housekeeping), moderate (help needed with only one vital task such as bathing or toileting), and severe (help needed with two or more vital tasks or dementia). Then the researchers examined decades of data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to determine the probabilities for each level of care from age 65 until death. Here are the results...

  • 17% of 65-year-olds will not require any long-term care.
  • 22% will require minimal long-term care, meaning they will need help only with mundane tasks such as housework, shopping, or preparing meals for any amount of time or they will need help with only one vital task for no more than one year.
  • 38% will require moderate long-term care, meaning they will need help with one vital task for one to three years or they will need help with two or more vital tasks or dementia for up to three years.
  • 24% will require severe long-term care, meaning help with one or more vital tasks/dementia for three or more years. This is "the type of severe needs that most people dread," the CRR researchers note.

Which long-term care path will an individual 65-year-old take? That's the $64,000 question. Some answers lie in the demographics, however. For example, from age 65 to death, college graduates are less likely than those with less education to have severe long-term care needs. Only 20 percent of the 65-year-old college graduates in the HRS database had severe needs during the remainder of their lives. This compares with a larger 28 percent of those with less education. Future CRR briefs will "identify people who are particularly at risk of experiencing needs they do not have the resources to meet."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What Level of Long-Term Services and Supports Do Retirees Need?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Republicans Oppose Vaccine Requirement for Students

Would you favor or oppose requiring students to receive a Covid-19 vaccine before they can attend classes in the fall? The majority of Americans would favor a vaccine requirement for college students (61 percent), high school students (56 percent), and even middle school students (51 percent), according to a Gallup survey. The great majority of Democrats favor the requirement, but few Republicans agree...

Percent in favor of a vaccine requirement for students
      Total     Democrats    Republicans
Middle school         61%         88%         31%
High school         56         84         26
College         51         77         22

"Given the highly politicized nature of public perceptions about the Covid-19 threat," concludes Gallup, "school vaccination policies are likely to spark vocal opposition and legal challenges from some parents, whatever schools decide."

Monday, June 21, 2021

75% of Younger Adults Are in Debt

The 77 percent majority of American households are in debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The accumulation of debt starts early. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, 68 percent report that their household has debt, according to a University of Chicago GenForward Survey fielded in 2020. The figure is 76 percent among those aged 25 to 30 and 82 percent among 31-to-36-year-olds.  

Percent of people aged 18 to 36 with household debt
75% have any household debt
35% have student loans
32% have auto loans
28% have a mortgage
23% carry a credit card balance 
15% have past-due medical debt

Student loans are the most common type of debt among younger adults, and the percentage of 18-to-36-year-olds with student loans does not vary much by age. Student loan debt is most common among younger adults with some college (42 percent) or a bachelor's degree (46 percent), but it is also significant among those without a high school diploma (23 percent) and those with only a high school diploma (19 percent). 

Nearly half (48 percent) of young adults say their household debt is manageable. But a substantial 16 percent say their debt is a bit more than is manageable, and another 8 percent say their debt is far more than is manageable. The debt burden shouldered by younger adults helps to explain why they have been slow to embrace significant life events...

Percent of 18-to-36-year-olds who say debt has delayed life event
Buying a home: 29%
Buying a car: 26%
Saving for retirement: 25%
Continuing their education: 22%
Having children: 14%
Marrying: 12%

Source: University of Chicago, GenForward Survey, Race, Ethnicity, and the Financial Lives of Young Adults

Thursday, June 17, 2021

79% Have Received at Least One Dose of a Covid Vaccine

Seventy-nine percent of adults aged 18 or older say they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. The latest survey was fielded May 26-June 7. The 79 percent who reported having gotten at least one dose of the vaccine as of June 7 is up slightly from the 77 percent who reported having done so at the end of May. 

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of May 26-June 7
Total 18-plus: 79%
Aged 18 to 24: 68%
Aged 25 to 39: 71%
Aged 40 to 54: 76%
Aged 55 to 64: 85%
Aged 65-plus: 92%

The number who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine fell to 27 million during this round of the survey, more than 1 million fewer than in the previous round. Another 14 million say they are unsure about getting the vaccine. 

The 17 million adults (7 percent of the population) who say they "definitely will not" get the vaccine is unchanged from the previous survey. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

75% of White Evangelicals Favor the Death Penalty

Support for the death penalty varies by religious affiliation, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Overall, 60 percent of Americans aged 18 or older support the death penalty for people convicted of murder. Only 35 percent of those who identify themselves as atheists support the death penalty—the lowest level of support by religious affiliation. The highest level of support is among white evangelical Protestants, 75 percent of whom support the death penalty.

Percent who favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder
75% of white Evangelical Protestants
73% of white Protestants, not evangelical
61% of Hispanic Catholics
56% of white Catholics
50% of Black Protestants
43% of Agnostics
35% of Atheists

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Americans Are So-So about Electric Vehicles

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the majority of Americans prefer the familiar. That explains why electric vehicles have been slow to take off in the United States. Only 2 percent of the automobiles sold in 2020 were electric, according to an analysis by Pew Research Center. In fact, there were fewer electric vehicles (including hybrids) sold in 2020 than in 2018. The paltry 2.0 percent market share accounted for by electric vehicles in the United States is below the world average of 4.6 percent. It is also well below the share in Spain, China, the UK, and all Scandinavian countries. In Norway, fully 75 percent of the cars sold in 2020 were electric. 

What accounts for the slow uptake of electric vehicles in the U.S.? One factor is the phaseout of federal tax credits on some models, Pew notes. Another factor is fear of the unfamiliar. Many people are hesitant to adopt a new technology. Only 39 percent of adults in the U.S. say they are somewhat/very likely to consider buying an electric vehicle the next time they are in the market. Younger adults are somewhat more likely than Boomers and older adults to consider electric, but not much more...

Percent somewhat/very likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle 
39% of total adults aged 18-plus
42% of Generation Z
47% of Millennials
39% of Generation X
32% of Boomers & older

Monday, June 14, 2021

60% of Americans Favor the Death Penalty

The 60 percent majority of Americans support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Pew documents large partisan differences in support for the death penalty, with 77 percent of Republicans versus 46 percent of Democrats in favor. 

The partisan gap in attitudes towards the death penalty explains why executions are much more likely to occur in red states than blue states. Of the 22 prisoners executed by the states in 2019, Texas executed 9 (41 percent), according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee each executed three prisoners, Florida executed two, and Missouri and South Dakota each executed one. 

Overall, 2,570 prisoners were under sentence of death in the United States at the end of 2019. Nearly all (98 percent) are men. The 56 percent majority are white, 41 percent Black, and 15 percent Hispanic (who may be of any race). Their median age is 51 and median level of education is 12th grade. Most have never been married. They have been on death row for an average of 18.7 years. 

In a preview of 2020 capital punishment statistics included in the 2019 report, the BJS notes a decline in executions to 17. "Sixteen of the executions in 2020 were by lethal injection," says BJS, "while 1 (in Tennessee) was by electrocution. Ten of those executed were white, 5 were black, 1 was Hispanic, and 1 was American Indian. No females were executed during this period."

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment, 2019—Statistical Tables

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Foreign-Born Work Force Declined in 2020

The total number of workers in the U.S. labor force fell by 2.8 million in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Foreign-born workers accounted for a disproportionate 38 percent of the decline—a loss of 1.1 million foreign-born workers. Consequently, the foreign-born share of the U.S. labor force fell from 17.4 percent in 2019 to 17.0 percent in 2020. 

Not surprisingly, Asian and Hispanic workers are mostly likely to be foreign-born. Among Asians in the labor force, 68.5 percent are foreign-born. Among Hispanics, the figure is 45 percent. 

By age, the foreign-born share of the labor force peaks at 21 to 22 percent among 35-to-54-year-olds. It is smallest among the youngest workers. Only 8 percent of workers aged 16 to 24 are foreign-born. 

The foreign-born share of the labor force also varies by educational attainment, with the foreign-born accounting for the majority of workers without a high school diploma...

Foreign-born share of the U.S. labor force by educational attainment, 2020
54.7% of those without a high school diploma
18.1% of those with a high school diploma and no further education
11.4% of those with some college or an associate's degree
17.2% of those with a bachelor's degree or more education

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

822,000 New Single-Family Houses Sold in 2020

822,000: that's the number of new single-family houses sold in 2020—the most since 2006 and more than twice the number sold a decade ago in 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession.  

The median sales price of new single-family houses sold climbed to $336,900 in 2020. While this was higher than the median price in 2019, it was less than the 2017 record high of $341,200, after adjusting for inflation...

Median sales price of new single-family houses sold, 2005 to 2020 (in 2020 dollars)
2020: $336,900
2019: $325,500
2018: $336,400
2017: $341,200 (record high)
2016: $331,900
2015: $321,300
2011: $261,400 (post Great Recession low)
2010: $263,300
2005: $319,200 (pre Great Recession high)

Nearly all (96 percent) of new single-family homes sold in 2020 were air conditioned. This figure is up from 63 percent in 1978, the first year of the Census Bureau's data series. 

New single-family houses sold in 2020 had a median of 2,333 square feet, almost identical to the 2,322 median size in 2019. In 2015 and 2016, the median size of new single-family houses sold exceeded 2,500 square feet. 

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Housing

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The Unvaccinated Are Least Likely to Wear Face Masks

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are almost guaranteed to be safe from the potentially fatal illness. Yet, they are also the ones most likely to continue to wear face masks, according to a Gallup survey. Take a look...

Use of face mask in past 7 days by vaccination status, May 2021
90% of those who are fully vaccinated
88% of those who plan to get vaccinated
80% of those who are partially vaccinated
49% of those who do not plan to get vaccinated

This is not the only eyebrow-raising statistic from the Gallup survey. Between April 2021 and May 2021, the share of the unvaccinated who have used a face mask in the past seven days fell by a full 10 percentage points—from 59 to 49 percent. Among the fully vaccinated, the decline in face mask use was a smaller 5 percentage points. 

The anti-vaxers who have thrown away their masks might want to consider a Washington Post analysis of Covid infection rates among the unvaccinated. Case rates are as high as they were near the January peak of Covid infections, the Post reports. "The virus continues to rage among those who haven't received a shot."

Monday, June 07, 2021

YouTube is Most Popular Social Media Platform

The great majority of the American public (72 percent of people aged 18 or older) use social media platforms, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The most popular site is YouTube, followed by Facebook—the only two sites used by the majority of adults...

Percent of people aged 18 or older who say they ever use...
YouTube: 81%
Facebook: 69%
Instagram: 40%
Pinterest: 31%
LinkedIn: 28%
Snapchat: 25%
Twitter: 23%
WhatsApp: 23%
TikTok: 21%
Reddit: 18%
Nextdoor: 13%

Young adults aged 18 to 29 are the ones most likely to use most of the social media platforms, including YouTube (95 percent), Instagram (71 percent), Snapchat (65 percent), TikTok (48 percent), Twitter (42 percent), and Reddit (36 percent). 

People aged 30 to 49 are the ones most likely to use Facebook (77 percent), LinkedIn (36 percent), and WhatsApp (30 percent).

People aged 50 to 64 are the ones most likely to use Pinterest (38 percent).

People aged 30 to 64 are the ones most likely to use Nextdoor (16 to 17 percent).

Source: Pew Research Center, Social Media Use in 2021

Thursday, June 03, 2021

77% Have Received at least One Dose of Vaccine

Seventy-seven percent of adults say they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. The latest survey was fielded May 12-24. The 77 percent who reported having gotten at least one dose of the vaccine as of May 24 is up slightly from the 75 percent who reported having done so in early May. 

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of May 12-24
Total 18-plus: 77%
Aged 18 to 24: 66%
Aged 25 to 39: 67%
Aged 40 to 54: 76%
Aged 55 to 64: 84%
Aged 65-plus: 90%

There is no change in the number who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine. During this round of the survey, 28 million said no. Another 14 million say they are unsure about getting the vaccine.  

There are 17 million adults (7 percent of the population) who say they "definitely will not" get the vaccine, almost the same numbers as in the previous survey. By race and Hispanic origin, 8 percent of non-Hispanic whites say they definitely will not get the vaccine, 7 percent of Blacks, 5 percent of Hispanics, and 2 percent of Asians. 

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, May 12-24

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

The Decline in Men's Earnings, 1988—2018

The earnings of men are not what they used to be. According to data collected by the Social Security Administration, here is how the earnings of men aged 20 to 59 have changed in the past 30 years, from 1988 to 2018 (in 2018 dollars)...

Median annual earnings of men in 2018 (and percent change since 1988; in 2018 dollars)
Aged 20 to 29: $25,507 (-5.4%)
Aged 30 to 39: $47,895 (-6.4%)
Aged 40 to 49: $57,779 (-10.5%)
Aged 50 to 59: $57,518 (-7.3%)

Note: Earnings are all wages, salaries, and self-employment income in Social Security covered and non-covered employment including earnings that exceed the annual taxable maximum. 

Source: Social Security Administration, Earnings of Men Aged 20-59, 1988—2018

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

QAnon Tenets Believed by 15-20% of Americans

An alarmingly large share of the public believes in each of the three tenets of the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to a PRRI survey...

  1. Fifteen percent of Americans believe "the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation." Among Republicans, 23 percent believe this to be true.
  2. Fifteen percent of Americans agree with the statement, "because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country." Among Republicans, the figure is 28 percent.
  3. Twenty percent of Americans believe "there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders." Among Republicans, 28 percent are believers.

Perhaps most worrisome is the belief that violence may be necessary. Fully 42 of those who watch far-right news sources believe true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country. Among Fox News viewers, the figure is 27 percent. Among white evangelical protestants, 24 percent.