Applying findings to Virginia from a Pew Social & Demographic Trends report, two previous blog posts examined breadwinner mothers in Virginia. In the first post we found differences between married and unmarried breadwinner moms:
- Households where the breadwinning mom was married had higher income levels
- Married breadwinning moms had higher educational attainment
- Even with the same educational attainment, married breadwinning moms earned more than unmarried moms (and worked more hours on average).
In the second post we examined differences between two groups of unmarried breadwinning moms – those who are single and those who are cohabiting with a partner. We found that, between these two groups, a greater proportion of cohabiting moms and their children live in poverty, and that lower earnings among cohabiting moms are found even when we hold age and educational attainment constant.
In this post, we will wrap up by focusing on single mothers, the group that makes up the largest share (54%) of breadwinning mothers.
In light of stereotypes about single mothers represented in popular media, findings from the American Community Survey are particularly important to describing single motherhood in Virginia.
Single mothers in Virginia
The data about single mothers in Virginia points to an important finding: the lives of single mothers who have never been married is quite different from those who have been married before, even when holding constant age, educational attainment, or age of the children. For example, in Virginia, single mothers have median household incomes of about $28,000. But when we examine marital history, we find some variation around that number. Continue reading
Have you noticed how many television channels currently have programs with story-lines woven around crime or law enforcement? With so many police dramas and crime series floating around the pool of broadcasting networks, I couldn’t help but wonder what the recent crime statistics looked like in the real world. These numbers are quite important because not only do they reflect the current state of security, but they help criminal justice agencies make informed decisions about how to manage and allocate their limited resources towards keeping our communities and its residents safer.
The FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States 2012 provides a snapshot of some facts and trends regarding criminal activity. Their estimates indicate that over the past year number of violent crimes has increased by 0.7% while the number of property crimes declined by 0.9%. Violent crimes (murder/non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) which involve some form of force or threat of force against a victim had rates ranging from 123 in Maine to 1244 per 100,000 people in Washington D.C. Property crimes (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson) on the other hand, are those where there is a loss of money or property and ranged from a rate of 1922 in the state of New York to 4861 per 100,000 for Washington D.C.
A glance at the maps above shows us that Virginia fares quite well compared to other states. But is this true of all regions in the Commonwealth? The recent Crime in Virginia 2012 report released by the Virginia Uniform Crime Reporting Program from the Department of State Police demonstrates an uneven distribution for estimated adult and juvenile arrests across the state. It is evident that there are some pockets that report higher number of arrests but these figures need to be understood in light of the area’s unique circumstances and characteristics. Several factors affect crime like population size, density and composition; socioeconomic conditions like employment and education; degree of urbanization etc. hence any insights we draw must be contingent upon the distinctive conditions affecting each locality. So if you are interested in knowing how your own county or city fared in terms of crime over 2012, take a look at the report here.
To gauge the frequency of all the offenses reported for the entire state, consider the following time-clock: approximately one crime against a person was reported every 5 minutes while a crime against property was committed every 2 minutes and a crime against society was recorded to occur once every 8 minutes. To wrap it up, here is a quick look at what kinds of criminal activity were most prevalent within Virginia over the course of 2012.
 The maps reflect the number of crimes per 100,000 people. Rates of Property Crime do not include arson data due to reporting discrepancies between agencies.
 Ranking the states on the national maps should be approached with caution as local law enforcement jurisdictions may report their data with varying levels of assessment or accuracy.
 At the state level, comparing different cities and counties on the basis of these reported crime statistics could also be misleading as there may be discrepancies in the data with respect to the categories or number of offenses estimated by different reporting agencies.
How many of you have ever checked out Google’s Ngram Viewer? Here’s a spin-off for any armchair demographers out there: a tool for analyzing The New York Times Weddings/Celebrations Section, WeddingCrunchers.com. (The creators have a similar tool for rap lyrics, called Rap Stats.)
If you’ve never seen or heard of an n-gram before, it’s a name for a simple concept that packs a punch. An n-gram of words is a sequence of text n words long. Take the phrase, “Speak truth to power.” This 4 word statement has three 2-grams (Speak truth, truth to, to power) and two 3-grams (Speak truth to, truth to power). You could have n-grams of letters, too, or other items of text. The math attached to n-grams is really cool, drawing from combinatorics.
The tools highlighted above show the frequency of word n-grams—phrases that are one or several words long— by year in specific collections of text. Google allows you to search for phrases from a wide variety of books since 1950, Rap Stats pulls its data from rap lyrics starting in the year 1990, and Wedding Crunchers analyzes the Weddings/Celebrations section beginning with the year 1981. Since Weddings/Celebrations announcements are pretty formulaic, Rap Genius Engineering Team explains, Wedding Crunchers is able to make use of n-gram searches to reveal some trends about what couples care to share. The website allows you to search all Weddings/Celebrations announcements since 1981 for phrases you’re curious about—like words showing age, degrees, or hometown. You can search for several different phrases at once, and see how they have been used over time.
Want to know how often your alma mater is mentioned compared to some rivals? Try entering college names, separated by commas, into the search box to see the trends:
The recent government shutdown and flirtation with default has seriously deteriorated public trust in Congress, and in Washington more generally. Disgust with Washington is often followed by bewilderment. How did things get this way?
While there is no single answer to this question, if I had to choose one, it would be current redistricting practices. There is a strong case to be made that political polarization (and associated intransigence and brinkmanship) are rooted in gerrymandered congressional districts.
Gerrymandering, the art and science of lawmakers choosing their own voters rather than the other way around, has ensured that most representatives in the U.S. House are safe from general election challenges. Without those challenges, positions taken by elected officials are not exposed to debate and to the typically moderating effect of contested elections. In contrast, in gerrymandered districts where it is clear that one party or the other has a more or less certain general election victory in hand, candidates from the opposing party opt out of running (or have little real chance of winning if they do). As a result, the only threats to these lawmakers come in contentious primary contests from the hard left and hard right. Being “primaried” is now a common term among political strategists, and is often used to describe well-financed tea party challengers who unseat moderate Republicans. As moderation, from either side, is lost in primary challenges, the result is more rigidly ideological victors and the deadlock we see with increasing frequency in Congress.
This connection between redistricting, polarization, and legislative dysfunction is complicated, and as soon as political scientists start talking about the nuances of this subject the message sometimes gets lost. So I decided to create a visual to help illuminate what is really going on…
Link to the full interactive Congressional Dot Map.
Recently, Pew Research Center reported on an increased prevalence of multigenerational families, in which children live in the same household as their grandparents. Nationally, roughly 1 million more children live in a multigenerational household in 2011 than did in 2000. In 2011, one in ten children live in a household configuration that includes at least one grandparent.
The Pew report points to the role of economic hardship, resulting from the Great Recession, in the increase of these households. For example, parents who have lost homes due to foreclosure may decide to move with their children into their own parents’ homes. Likewise, grandparents whose retirement savings have been diminished may need to rely on their children for assistance in daily life.
Forming a multigenerational household is one way that families band together to provide for family members. It is a way of sharing economic resources to meet basic needs. In addition, it allows for the sharing of household work. This can take the form of grandpa and grandma watching grandchildren to free up other members to go outside the home and work. Continue reading
One of the little noticed effects of the federal government shutdown is that many federal statistics and reports that we rely on are currently on hold. For example, the all-too-important September jobs report never came, and if the shutdown continues, we all may miss out on measuring the unemployment rate for October. Even updates to the consumer price index, which adjusts government benefits for inflation, may be delayed.
If you want to look up past U.S. Census Bureau data you will encounter problems as well. The popular American Factfinder and Census Bureau websites are now unavailable. So, here are a few tips for those who us who are in need of data right now:
- Free of charge, The University of Minnesota’s National Historical Geographic Information System provides aggregate statistics from the decennial censuses and the American Community Survey (ACS). I have used data from these folks on many of my projects and can vouch for their simple and intuitive interface.
- For the next few weeks, the Social Explorer website is providing free access to its data. Social Explorer is a great website for Census data and also offers neat visualization capabilities. But I wouldn’t get too cozy with using their services; they usually charge a fee, and it’s hard to say how long their generosity will last.
- If you have some data analysis skills, the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) project is still open. The site is another Minnesota creation and is a favorite of mine. They provide access not only to past censuses and the ACS, but data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) as well. If you don’t have SAS, SPSS, or STATA software you can always use their online analysis tools. The interface isn’t all that great and requires some expertise to navigate, but it does allow for very detailed analyses.
- If you need only local or state-level data, many states have decent data centers you can check out. For all of you Virginians out there, you can always visit the Weldon Cooper Center website and see the work we do. We provide county population data, projections, and an interactive map that has local data from the ACS and past censuses.
Dustin Cable is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service where he conducts research on topics that lie at the intersection of demographics, politics, and public policy.
One of the most frequent observations from people who have recently viewed our new Racial Dot Map is the presence of these “little green boxes” scattered throughout the country. The map displays a single dot for every person counted during the 2010 Census and every dot on the map is color-coded by race and ethnicity: non-Hispanic whites = blue; African-Americans = green; Asians = red; Hispanics = orange; and all other races = brown. These peculiar green boxes on the map can be found everywhere and seem oddly out of place:
In a suburb of Philadelphia: