Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Report Suggests Reversal In Decades-Long Trend of Decentralization

A new report by City Observatory, a think tank devoted to data-driven analysis of cities and the policies that shape them, shows that population and employment are growing in many city centers and declining in the suburbs, reversing a 50-year long decentralization trend.

"Over the past few years, urban populations in America’s cities have grown faster than outlying areas, and our research shows that jobs are coming with them" said City Observatory Joe Cortright.

The report, based on Census data, shows that annual jobs growth in city centers increased from 0.1 percent in the 2002-07 period, to 0.5 percent in recent years.  Meanwhile the periphery saw a steep decline in annual job growth: from 1.2 percent between 2002-2007, to -0.1 percent between 2007-2011.  "When it comes to job growth, city centers are out-performing the surrounding areas in 21 of the 41 metropolitan areas we examined."

"Our analysis shows that city centers had unusually strong job growth relative to peripheral locations in the wake of the Great Recession. Some of the impetus for central city growth comes from the relatively stronger performance of industries that tend to be more centralized, such as finance, entertainment, restaurants, and professional services.  The story is not just that job growth in central cities is improving when compared to outlying areas – city centers have also erased their competitive disadvantage relative to peripheral locations."

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Increasing Urbanization (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3858)
Top 20 Cities (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3851)
The Social Structures of the Cities (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3186)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top Source of Stress For Americans? Money

The American Psychological Association recently released the results of the latest annual Stress in America survey.  The APA has been conducting the survey since 2007 to assess stress across the country and understand its impact. The survey measures attitudes and perceptions of stress among the general public and identifies leading sources of stress, common behaviors used to manage stress, and the impact of stress on the lives of Americans.

The 2014 survey indicates that average reported stress levels are down (4.9 on a 10-point scale, compared with 6.2 in 2007), but some groups are not feeling much relief and for them, stress is mostly related to money:

  • Women report higher stress levels than men, and the gender stress gap is growing. "Thirty percent of women in the survey said they feel stress about money all or most of the time, compared with 21 percent for men. In a finding that will surprise no one, women were more likely than men to say stress affects their eating, with 41 percent saying they've eaten too much or had unhealthy food during the past month because of stress; for men it's 24 percent."
  • Young Americans (Millennials and GenXers) reported higher stress levels than other generations, mostly related to finances.
  • Parents of children under age 18 are more stressed out than non-parents.  Money is also a significant source of stress for them.
  • Unsurprisingly, lower-income respondents reported higher levels of stress than their better off counterparts. Like the gender stress gap, the income stress gap is growing.

To lower their stress, Americans tend to watch television and surf the Internet.

The report concludes that "[a]lthough survey findings show that average stress levels have decreased since 2007, many Americans say they struggle to achieve their healthy living goals and that important health behaviors like eating and sleeping are affected by stress. Only a small percentage say their stress has actually decreased this past year."

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Racial Disparities in Health Care: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3933)
Chronic Disease Indicator (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3870)
BRFSS: Prevalence Data and Data Analysis Tools (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3872)
Social Class and Health: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3460)
Racial Disparities in Mental Health: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3241)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Even Unemployed, Men Do Less Housework Than Women

Using data from the American Time Use Survey (a survey that measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as work, childcare, housework, watching television, volunteering, and socializing), John Katz of The New York Times' The Upshot compared how 147 unemployed men and 147 unemployed women spend a typical weekday.

Katz found that women are far more likely than men to devote a significant portion of their time to housework. Housework combined with caring for others occupied almost six hours of the average woman's day in the sample, compared with less than three hours for that of the average man.

Other interesting gender differences emerged:
  • Men were more likely to spend time looking for work.
  • For every one person whose main activity was job searching, there were almost six whose main activity was television and movie watching.  Men were more than twice as likely to spend more of their daytime to watching TV and movies than women.
  • About one-fifth of nonworking women spend a majority of their day caring for someone else. 
  • Men and women without jobs spend about one and a half times as much time socializing as the average employed person.
  • On average, the prime-age non-employed spend slightly over an hour more sleeping than their employed counterparts.

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Exploring the Second Shift: A Data-driven Learning Guide

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Students From High-Income Families Attain College Degrees At Far Higher Rates Than Students From Low-Income Families

The social and economic benefits of a college degree are well-known.  At the individual level, people with college degrees have higher lifetime earnings, lower unemployment and poverty, better working conditions, longer lives, and better health than those with only a high-school education.  At the societal level, increased college attainment rates translate into a larger tax base, less reliance on social welfare programs, and greater civic and political engagement.  However, as a new report from the Pell Institute for Opportunity in Higher Education demonstrates, higher education outcomes are plagued by profound, persisting inequities.

The report focuses on income-related inequities.  It found that:

  • Compared with students from higher income families, students from lower income families are considerably less likely to participate in post-secondary education.
  • When they do enroll, students from low-income families disproportionately attend two-year rather than four-year institutions, and for-profit post-secondary institutions rather than private not-for-profit institutions.
  • The average net price of attendance at the institutions attended by students from the highest income quartile is growing at a faster rate than at institutions attended by students in the lowest income quartile. This suggests increasing stratification across groups in the types of post-secondary education options that students from different groups can access.
  • Even when only those who enter college are considered, bachelor's degree attainment rates in 2013 were an astonishing 78 percentage points lower for students from lower income families than for students from higher income families.
  • Although gaps in college participation have declined somewhat over time, gaps in bachelor's degree attainment have grown. 

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Economics of Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2916)
Without a High-School Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3861)
Men's real hourly wage by education, 1973-2007 (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2947)
Do Blacks Earn Less than Whites and Why? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3162)
Women's Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3104)
Education and Earnings: Does Education Pay? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3107)
Education in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3124)
Exploring Education Attainment of U.S. Native-born and Foreign-born (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3131)
The Value of College (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3866)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Diminishing Returns: Incarcerating More People Brings Increasingly Smaller Crime Reduction Benefits

The US prison population has grown sharply over the last 40 years, reaching 496 prisoners for every 100,000 people, up from 150 in 1972.  All this growth took place in spite of declining crime rates.  A newly released report by the Brennan Center for Justice examines the relationship between incarceration and crime.  More specifically, the authors ask: "How does an ever-increasing prison population change how incarceration affects crime over time?"

The researchers collected data on most of the major factors thought to affect crime rates for all 50 states from 1980 to 2013 in order to test 14 popular theories for the crime decline over the last 20 years.  These theories focus on criminal justice policies (increased incarceration, increased policing, use of the death penalty, enactment of right-to-carry laws), economic factors (unemployment, growth in income, inflation, consumer confidence), and social and environmental factors (decreased alcohol consumption, aging population, decreased crack use, legalization of abortion, decreased lead in gasoline).

Using multivariate regression analysis, the researchers found that:

  • Increased incarceration at today's levels has a negligible crime control benefit.  Increased incarceration has had little effect on the drop in violent crime in the past 24 years.  It accounted for about six percent of the reduction in property crime in the 1990s but since 2000, it has had no effect on property crime to speak of.
  • CompStat, a policing approach that helps police gather data used to identify crime patterns and target resources, is responsible for a 5-15 percent decrease in crime where it was introduced.
  • Certain social (aging population), economic (changes in income), and environmental factors (decreased alcohol consumption) have also played a role in the crime drop.
  • There is no evidence that the death penalty, or right-to-carry laws, have had any measurable effect on crime.

The authors conclude that incarceration is a crime control strategy with diminishing returns: when prisons are used sparingly (low incarceration rate), incarceration is reserved for those offenders commit the most crime and/or the most serious crimes.  As the use of incarceration increases, the additional people who get caught in the criminal justice net are people who pose relatively little threat to society.  "This effect makes each additional person incarcerated offer fewer crime control benefits."

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Prisoners per Capita (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_pri_per_cap-crime-prisoners-per-capita)
Bureau of Justice Dynamic Data Tools (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=daa)
CrimeStat III Crime Mapping Tool (http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/CrimeStat/)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Growth of Master's Degrees

A new Vox article reports on the growth of Master's degrees in the U.S. where about eight percent of the population holds a Master's degree, a 43 percent increase since 2002.

Looking at Master's degrees trends over the last 40 years indicates that:

  • A graduate degree is associated with a boost in earnings, but also larger student debt.  The median amount of debt accrued by graduate degree holders has increased from $40,000 in 2004, to $57,000 in 2012.
  • In 1971, education and business made up 37.2 percent and 11.2 percent of Master's degrees.  By 2012, business was the most popular field, and professionally-oriented degrees (health professions and public administration and social services, in particular) had gained ground.
  • The fastest growing fields for Master's degrees are: law enforcement (+186.3 percent), leisure and fitness studies (+173.1 percent), engineering (+122.1 percent), multidisciplinary studies (+113.1 percent), and health professions (+92.6 percent).

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Economics of Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2916)
Without a High-School Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3861)
Men's real hourly wage by education, 1973-2007 (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2947)
Do Blacks Earn Less than Whites and Why? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3162)
Women's Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3104)
Education and Earnings: Does Education Pay? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3107)
Education in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3124)
Exploring Education Attainment of U.S. Native-born and Foreign-born (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3131)
The Value of College (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3866)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Rise of the Megacity

This interactive world map of urbanization trends created by The Economist tracks global city population shifts and forecasts from 1950 until 2030.  The visualization is based on data from the United Nations' Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Users can watch population shifts over time, double-click a country to zoom in, or use the search box to hone in on a city and see a graph of its population over time.

The map shows that more people now live in urban areas than in rural areas (54 percent vs. 30 percent in 1950).  This shift has been accompanied by the rise of the megacity: these massive urban centers housed only 0.9 percent of the world population in 1950, but the United Nations projects that 9 percent of the world population will live in 41 megacities (particularly in Africa and Asia, where urbanization is taking place rapidly) in 2030.

The United Nations report concludes that
"As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development challenges will be increasingly concentrated in cities, particularly in the lower-middle-income countries where the pace of urbanization is fastest.  Integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers are needed."

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Increasing Urbanization (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3858
The Social Structures of the Cities (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3186)
Social Explorer (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3914)
Before and After 1940 (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3859)
A Decade of State Population Change (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3860)
Census Flow Mapper (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3844)