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[COMMUNITIES] Who American Are & What They Do

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  • madchinaman
    Who Americans Are and What They Do, in Census Data http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/15/us/15census.html? em&ex=1166504400&en=e4b509a24fc0d1e8&ei=5070 By SAM
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2006
      Who Americans Are and What They Do, in Census Data
      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/15/us/15census.html?
      em&ex=1166504400&en=e4b509a24fc0d1e8&ei=5070
      By SAM ROBERTS


      -

      More than half of American households owned stocks and mutual funds
      in 2005. The 91 million individuals in those households had a median
      age of 51 and a median household income of $65,000.

      That might help explain a shift in what college freshmen described as
      their primary personal objectives. In 1970, 79 percent said their
      goal was developing a meaningful philosophy of life. By 2005, 75
      percent said their primary objective was to be financially very well
      off.

      Among graduate students, 27 percent had at least one foreign-born
      parent. The number of foreign students from India enrolled in
      American colleges soared to 80,000 in 2005 from 10,000 in 1976.

      "The demand for information and entertainment seems almost
      insatiable," said James P. Rutherfurd, executive vice president of
      Veronis Suhler Stevenson, the media investment firm whose research
      the Census Bureau cited.

      Mr. Rutherfurd said time spent with such media increased to 3,543
      hours last year from 3,340 hours in 2000, and is projected to rise to
      3,620 hours in 2010. The time spent within each category varied, with
      less on broadcast television (down to 679 hours in 2005 from 793
      hours in 2000) and on reading in general, and more using the Internet
      (up to 183 hours from 104 hours) and on cable and satellite
      television.

      -


      Americans drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in
      2004 — about 10 times as much as in 1980. We consumed more than twice
      as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980 and remained
      the fattest inhabitants of the planet, although Mexicans,
      Australians, Greeks, New Zealanders and Britons are not too far
      behind.

      At the same time, Americans spent more of their lives than ever —
      about eight-and-a-half hours a day — watching television, using
      computers, listening to the radio, going to the movies or reading.

      This eclectic portrait of the American people is drawn from the 1,376
      tables in the Census Bureau's 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United
      States, the annual feast for number crunchers that is being served up
      by the federal government today.

      For the first time, the abstract quantifies same-sex sexual contacts
      (6 percent of men and 11.2 percent of women say they have had them)
      and learning disabilities (among population groups, American Indians
      were most likely to have been told that they have them).

      The abstract reveals that the floor space in new private one-family
      homes has expanded to 2,227 square feet in 2005 from 1,905 square
      feet in 1990. Americans are getting fatter, but now drink more
      bottled water per person than beer.

      Taller, too. More than 24 percent of Americans in their 70s are
      shorter than 5-foot-6. Only 10 percent of people in their 20s are.

      More people are injured by wheelchairs than by lawnmowers, the
      abstract reports. Bicycles are involved in more accidents than any
      other consumer product, but beds rank a close second.

      Most of the statistical tables, which come from a variety of
      government and other sources, are presented raw, without caveats; and
      because the abstract is so concrete, the statistics can suggest false
      precision. The table of consumer products involved in injuries does
      not explain, for example, that one reason nearly as many injuries
      involve beds as bicycles is that more people use beds.

      With medical costs rising, more people said they pray for their
      health than invest in every form of alternative medicine or therapy
      combined, the abstract reports.

      Adolescents and adults now spend, on average, more than 64 days a
      year watching television, 41 days listening to the radio and a little
      over a week using the Internet. Among adults, 97 million Internet
      users sought news online last year, 92 million bought a product, 91
      million made a travel reservation, 16 million used a social or
      professional networking site and 13 million created a blog.

      "The demand for information and entertainment seems almost
      insatiable," said James P. Rutherfurd, executive vice president of
      Veronis Suhler Stevenson, the media investment firm whose research
      the Census Bureau cited.

      Mr. Rutherfurd said time spent with such media increased to 3,543
      hours last year from 3,340 hours in 2000, and is projected to rise to
      3,620 hours in 2010. The time spent within each category varied, with
      less on broadcast television (down to 679 hours in 2005 from 793
      hours in 2000) and on reading in general, and more using the Internet
      (up to 183 hours from 104 hours) and on cable and satellite
      television.

      How does all that listening and watching influence the amount of time
      Americans spend alone? The census does not measure that, but since
      2000 the number of hobby and athletic nonprofit associations has
      risen while the number of labor unions, fraternities and fan clubs
      has declined.

      "The large master trend here is that over the last hundred years,
      technology has privatized our leisure time," said Robert D. Putnam, a
      public policy professor at Harvard and author of "Bowling Alone: The
      Collapse and Revival of American Community."

      "The distinctive effect of technology has been to enable us to get
      entertainment and information while remaining entirely alone," Mr.
      Putnam said. "That is from many points of view very efficient. I also
      think it's fundamentally bad because the lack of social contact, the
      social isolation means that we don't share information and values and
      outlook that we should."

      More Americans were born in 2004 than in any years except 1960 and
      1990. Meanwhile, the national divorce rate, 3.7 divorces per 1,000
      people, was the lowest since 1970. Among the states, Nevada still
      claims the highest divorce rate, which slipped to 6.4 per 1,000 in
      2004 from 11.4 per 1,000 in 1990, just ahead of Arkansas's rate.

      From 2000 to 2005, the number of manufacturing jobs declined nearly
      18 percent. Virtually every job category registered decreases except
      pharmaceuticals. Employment in textile mills fell by 42 percent. The
      job projected to grow the fastest by 2014 is home health aide.

      One thing Americans produce more of is solid waste — 4.4 pounds per
      day, up from 3.7 pounds in 1980.

      More than half of American households owned stocks and mutual funds
      in 2005. The 91 million individuals in those households had a median
      age of 51 and a median household income of $65,000.

      That might help explain a shift in what college freshmen described as
      their primary personal objectives. In 1970, 79 percent said their
      goal was developing a meaningful philosophy of life. By 2005, 75
      percent said their primary objective was to be financially very well
      off.

      Among graduate students, 27 percent had at least one foreign-born
      parent. The number of foreign students from India enrolled in
      American colleges soared to 80,000 in 2005 from 10,000 in 1976.

      As recently as 1980, only 12 percent of doctors were women; by 2004,
      27 percent were.

      In 1970, 33,000 men and 2,000 women earned professional degrees; in
      2004, the numbers were 42,000 men and 41,000 women.

      =

      The Story of the Numbers
      (Editorial)
      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/16/opinion/16sat4.html?n=Top%
      2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fOrganizations%2fC%2fCensus%20Bureau


      There is a novel hidden in the raw data recently released in the
      Census Bureau's 2007 Statistical Abstract — a kind of
      collective "Pale Fire" by Vladimir Nabokov, a portrait of strangeness
      amid familiarity. All the vestiges of causality and context are
      missing from the numbers, so one is left to ponder what link there
      might be between the growing size of our houses and our drinking 23
      gallons of bottled water a year.

      Could our passion for high-fructose corn syrup have something to do
      with the decline in the divorce rate? And why have college students
      given up hopes of finding a meaningful philosophy of life in favor of
      being financially well off? Is it because they seem to be taller than
      their elders?

      Let's face it. In the abstract — statistically — we don't make much
      sense. Before the data means anything it has to be balanced,
      weighted, contextualized and interpreted. Even then the questions of
      cause and volition are still problematic. Do we drink 10 times more
      bottled water than we did in 1980 because we now distrust tap water?
      Or have we been led into aquatic skepticism by bottled-water
      marketing campaigns? Or does the truth lie muddled in the middle? The
      census numbers are endpoints in our understanding of the country
      around us. They outline our demographic diversity, our economic
      decisions, but they have a harder time showing the pressures that
      bear upon us every day and that shape our behavior.

      Still, there is something fascinating about thumbing through this
      summary of America. Every census tries to capture a detailed snapshot
      of who and how we are, a portrait of the present. But as everyone who
      has ever stood in front of a camera knows, we will look back at these
      numbers — 13 million blogs created, 64 days a year watching
      television — and wonder who on earth we were.
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