Although Japan was once the foremost nation in terms of economic growth, the Economist's daily chart suggests that this trend is changing. Countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, who used to trail behind Japan in regards to GDP per person, are now quickly outpacing Japan. Even more remarkable, South Korea is expected to achieve a higher GDP per person measured at purchasing-power than Japan within five years. Singapore outpaced Japan in this category in 1993 and Taiwan passed Japan in 2010. However, the case of South Korea will be extraordinary, give that 32 years ago South Korea’s GDP per person was roughly a fourth of Japan’s.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
In addition to the gender wage gap (in which, during 2011, men earned 17.8% more in median weekly earnings than women), occupational segregation is also a continuing problem. According to a report published in April by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 39.5% of women work in conventionally female jobs and almost half of men (44.5%) work in conventionally male occupations. Only about 6 out of 100 women work in conventionally male jobs and only about 5 out of 100 men work in conventionally female jobs. Additionally, in 19 out of the 20 most common jobs for full-time women, men earn more. Women are twice more likely than their male counterparts to be employed in jobs with poverty wages, such as cashiers, waiters and waitresses, and maids and household cleaners, which are three of the most common jobs for women. The numbers become even more striking when examined by race. Latina women earn about $518 per week in median earnings, which is slightly over half of the median weekly earnings for white men. Black women earn more than Latina women, with median weekly earnings of about $595. Interestingly, the wage gaps between men and women are smaller among Latino and Black populations than they are for Asian and white populations, as illustrated by Table 2.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report on the prison inmate population for midyear 2011. By June 2011, there were 735,601 inmates in county and city jails. The inmate population has declined for three straight years, and the incarceration rate is now at 236 per 100,000 U.S. residents, the lowest since 2002. Whites accounted for 45% of the population, followed by blacks with 38%, and Hispanics with 15% of the population. The report also noted that jails with populations over 1,000 accounted for more than half of the decline. Lastly, though population continues to decline, the rated capacity – the number of beds or inmates allotted to each facility – has dropped every year since 2000. The percentage of the rated capacity filled was 84%, the lowest since 1984.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The Economist recently published an article exploring the economic implications of the declining fertility rate in China. The fertility rate in China has declined sharply in the past 30 years, from 2.6 to 1.56. Additionally, the elderly population continues to rise; it is projected that by 2050, 26% of China's population will be over 65. This trend will have broad and severe consequences for the country. Similar to the social security crisis happening in America (in which it is projected that there will not be enough individuals in the work force to pay for the pensions of elderly Americans), China will be facing a similar problem but on a much larger scale. Additionally, with China’s one-child policy, the country will face a “4-2-1-phenomenon”, in which one child must take care of four grandparents in addition to their two parents. With most individuals lacking the financial resources to shoulder this heavy burden, the elderly will have to rely on social security pensions, a system that is already in peril.
Monday, April 23, 2012
A recent post on the Economist's Graphic Detail blog discusses the rate of cosmetic plastic surgery in 2010, as reported by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The graph from the post ranks countries based on procedures per 1,000 people and categorizes the procedures as either "non-invasive" or "invasive." South Korea topped the list at 16 procedures per 1,000, followed by Greece and Italy at 14 and about 13 respectively. The US had the 6th largest number of procedures done per 1,000 at approximately 10.5. India and China had the fewest, at around 1 procedure per 1,000.
Friday, April 20, 2012
April 15th marked Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. Players across the nation wore number 42 – Robinson’s number – to celebrate the first man to break the color barrier back in 1947. However, while the integration of baseball opened the floodgates to black players, in recent years, the percentage of blacks playing America’s pastime has declined. In 1995, 19% of players were black, but today, just 8.1% of major leaguers are black, a level not seen since the late 40s and early 50s. Business Insider highlighted this trend in its chart of the day, and also noted that while black participation in baseball has steadily decreased, the percentage of Hispanics in MLB has doubled in the past 20 years.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services recently released a data brief detailing the demographics of Americans living in State-Funded Residential Care Facilities (RCF), such as those living in assisted living communities. In 2010, 733,300 citizens lived in RCF’s. Of those, 91% of were non-Hispanic whites, and 70% were female. Almost 2 in 10 were Medicaid beneficiaries. Younger residents, those under 65, were the most likely to have Medicaid, with 56% receiving benefits. The majority of residents were 85 and older, with 54% falling into the oldest age group. Chronic medical conditions were highly prevalent as well, with more than three quarters of residents possessing at least 2 of the 10 most common chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. More than a quarter of residents suffered from four or more of these chronic illnesses.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
As the world enters the information age, and the Internet continues to assimilate into the everyday lives of billions of people, the question begs: how impactful is the Internet to the economy? The Economist has released a graph based on a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) detailing the Internet’s contribution to the economies of the G20 countries. The Internet economy in Britain is now larger than its construction and education sectors, comprising over 8% of GDP and forecasted to amount to over 12% by 2016. BCG predicts that the Internet economy will grow at more than 10% annually, and by 2016, will comprise 5.3% of GDP in the G20 nations. BCG also notes that as of now, the European Union has not capitalized on Internet revenues due to a lack of a single, all-encompassing digital market.
Monday, April 16, 2012
According to a recent poll conducted by Gallup, a majority of Americans favor the Buffet Rule, a measure that would impose that households with an income of $1 million or more pay at least 30% in taxes. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans approve of the rule, the public remains largely divided along party lines. More than 50% of both Democrats and Independents favor the rule, while only 43% of Republicans do. Additionally, although there appears to be broad public support for implementing the rule, the public does view it as a priority. When respondents were asked what should be the country’s biggest concern, less than 1% cited the growing income disparity between Americans as the most important issue.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Bloomberg reports that Apple’s market value stands at $586 billion, which is nearly the same as the total market value of every single public company in Spain, Greece, and Portugal combined. This comparison illustrates not simply Apple’s rapid growth, but also the serious consequences of Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis. In November 2007, the value of these three nations’ public companies stood at 11 times that of Apple’s, but this peak vanished rapidly. The debt crisis wiped $1 trillion off the total value of the nearly 500 publicly traded companies in Spain, Greece, and Portugal – a 62% plunge.
This report comes on the heels of a recent article in The Atlantic highlighting Eurostat data on unemployment in Europe. The data shows that Spain, Greece, and Portugal possess the unemployment rates of 23.6%, 21.0%, and 15.0% respectively, the three highest in Europe.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that birth rates for U.S. teens have reached all-time lows across age and ethnic groups. The birth rate fell 9% from 2009 to 2010 among women aged 15 to 19 and the rate dropped 44% from 1991 to 2010. The number of babies born to women aged 15 to 19 was 367,752, the lowest since 1946. From 2007 to 2010, only three states – Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia – did not experience a decrease in teen birth rates. Birth rates among minorities have dropped off sharply since 1991, but disparities remain, with non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian or Alaska Native teens continuing to possess higher birth rates than the national average. This stands in stark contrast, however, to Asian or Pacific Islander teens, whose birth rate was only 10.9 births per 1000 women.
The U.S. failed to round out the top 10 among countries where residents were "thriving," according to Gallup's Well-Being Index. Denmark took the top spot, with 74% of residents rating their current and future lives high enough to be classified as thriving. Canada, The Netherlands, Israel, and Sweden rounded out the top 5. In the United States, 56% rated their lives well enough to be classified as thriving. Cambodia came in last, with only 2% of residents "thriving." Comoros, Laos, Togo, and Afghanistan rounded out the bottom 5. Ghana experienced a 19 percentage point gain, the largest gain among the countries, to bring the total percentage of residents thriving to 29%. El Salvador experienced the greatest decline from 2010, losing 22 percentage points and decreasing to 17%.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Census recently released population estimates, which paint a picture of the new trends in growth across the country. The fastest growing metropolitan area from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 was the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland region in Washington, with a 4.3% increase. 46 of the 50 fastest growing metropolitan areas were located in the South or West, a trend that has persisted in recent years with the boom of the Sun Belt. Harris, Texas added the greatest quantity of people, with an increase of 88,452. Los Angeles, California ranked second, adding 70,451 in population. Interestingly, Palm Coast, Florida, which was the fastest growing metropolitan area from 2000 to 2010, fell to 55th in the rankings, and Las Vegas, Nevada, which was the third fastest growing metro area in the last decade, dropped to 155th. Of the 50 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the past decade, only 24 remained in the top 50 fastest growing since 2010.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Gallup reports that Americans’ daily spending rose sharply during March. Based on self-reported data on daily spending at restaurants, stores, gas stations, and online, Gallup found that the average American spends $74 a month, up eleven dollars from the previous month. This figure is also up 16% from March of 2011, when the average American spent $64. The recession obviously influenced consumer spending. In March of 2008, with the recession just beginning, consumer spending hovered at $81 a month. Examining just the month of March over the past 3 years (comparing multiple months is difficult due to seasonal factors influencing consumer spending), it is clear that the level of spending remained in a tight range of $59 to $64. While the financial crisis drove Gallup’s consumer spending down anywhere from 21% to 27%, the most recent jump in the figure represents a refreshing development. With that said, Gallup’s Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe notes that newfound economic confidence, strengthened job creation, higher gas prices, and an early Easter may all have direct influence on daily spending.
Friday, April 6, 2012
On April 4, the Pew Research Center released a survey conducted on Americans with roots in Spanish-speaking countries. The survey explored how Hispanic adults across three generations identify themselves. 51% of Hispanics most identify themselves by their family's country of origin, using terms such as Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Mexican. 24% refer to themselves as Hispanic or Latino, and only 21% use the term "American." However, breaking Hispanics apart by generation paints a different picture:
- 1st generation - those who are foreign-born - 62% identify themselves by their country of origin, 28% choose "Hispanic" or "Latino," and just 8% choose American.
- 2nd generation - those who were born in America and have at least one 1st generation parent - are much more divided on which term to use. 43% use their family's country of origin, 35% use American, while only 18% use Hispanic or Latino.
- 3rd generation - those born in the U.S., with both parents born in America as well - Hispanics were the only generation that favored the term "American" over their family's country of origin. 48% refer to themselves as "American," while 28% use their country of origin, and 21% identify themselves as "Latino" or "Hispanic."
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Dennis Jacobe, Gallup’s chief economist, reports that Gallup’s unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 8.4% in March. This figure is the lowest since October and November of 2011. Gallup also found that 9.6% of Americans are working part-time but want to work full-time. This percentage is down from 10.0% in February, but still higher than the 9.2% seen a year ago. Gallup also calculates a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, the formula for which Jacobe says is comparable to the method used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seasonally adjusted rate fell to 8.1% in March. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently released its regional and state unemployment data, and releases its national jobs numbers Friday.
A recent post on the Economist’s Graphic Detail blog discusses the importance of wealth to Europeans based on the recently released results of the European Social Survey. The survey asked respondents in 26 different European countries whether they believed a person who thought “it is important to be rich, have money and expensive things” was “like,” “somewhat/a little like,” or “not like” themselves. Nations with respondents who least identified with such people included Sweden, which reported the lowest respondents saying such people were “like” them , and France, which had the highest number of those responding such people were “not like” them. Russia had the highest percentage of respondents who said that people who thought it was important to be rich were “like” them, at nearly 40%.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Gallup released a survey in which Americans answered whether they felt the protection of the environment or the growth of the economy should be given a higher priority. Since 2009, Americans have placed a higher priority on economic growth. Though that gap was at its highest with an 18 percent difference in early 2011, Americans still favor economic growth over environmental protection by a 49% to 41% margin. Until the recession hit in 2007, most Americans prioritized environmental protection, but as the economy weakened, the difference shrunk. Beginning in 2009, more Americans favored improving the economy before protecting the environment. This trend is remarkably new. Before the recession, Americans clearly prioritized the environment over economic growth; in 1991, the difference was 51% in favor of the environment. That gap narrowed during the new millennium. The BP oil spill in 2010 raised more concerns about the environment, but this trend was short-lived. Among the political parties, 66% of those who are registered Republicans will prioritize economic development compared to just 27% favoring environmental protection. On the other hand, 50% of Democrats still prioritize the environment over economic growth.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Last week, Amnesty International released its report on death sentences and executions for 2011. The report finds that China executed the most people, with reported executions numbered in the thousands (the true number of executions is unknown in China, due to the fact that the government does not publicize the exact figures). Next was Iran, which executed over 360 men and women, followed by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the United States, with 82, 68 and 42 executions respectively. The report finds that the number of countries that imposed death sentences and carried out executions dropped marginally from 2010 to 2011. Amnesty International also notes that the United States remains the only G8 country to utilize executions, and that 20 nations continue to partake in judicial killings.