Urban Living

This week, Wonkblog had several articles about different aspects of city living:

- The cities where salaries are keeping up with housing prices – and where they are not

Median wages grew 1.3 percent between the second quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2014. However, home prices grew by a stunning 17 percent, according to RealtyTrac, which used data on average weekly wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and median home prices from sales deeds in 184 metropolitan areas.

- When cheap housing isn’t really a good deal

The golden rule of housing affordability — embraced by government agencies, mortgage lenders, private landlords and the financially savvy — says you that should not spend more than around 30 percent of your income on your housing costs.

This number, though, is a little deceptive — or, at least, it’s incomplete. That’s because decisions that you make about where to live influence what you pay for life’s second-biggest expense: transportation.

- New Census data: Americans are returning to the far-flung suburbs

During the housing bubble, Americans moved in droves to the exurbs, to newly paved subdivisions on what was once rural land. Far-out suburbs had some of the fastest population growth in the country in the early 2000s, fueled by cheap housing and easy mortgages. And these places helped redefine how we think about metropolitan areas like Washington, pushing their edges farther and farther from the traditional downtown.

In the wake of the housing crash, these same places took the biggest hit. Population growth in the exurbs stalled. They produced a new American phenomenon: the ghost subdivision of developments abandoned during the housing collapse before anyone got around to finishing the roads or sidewalks.

- How the whitest city in America appears through the eyes of its black residents

(Portland, OR) is about 76 percent white, making it the whitest big city in the U.S. And diversity has been dwindling in the neighborhoods close to the center of town, as minorities have increasingly moved out to the city’s edges.

- Welcome to the world of the $6 bus ride to work, $7 juice not included

The new venture-backed private transportation service Leap began offering rides in San Francisco last week in a swanky shuttle meant to feel “more like a living room than a bus.” A ride with the service, which costs $6 one-way or $5 in bulk, comes with WiFi, USB ports, a laptop bar and locally made pressed juices (for sale on board, that is).

Gender Gaps

Ri Liu used data from the World Bank and the UNDP 2014 Human Development Report to create a series of graphs illustrating the gender gaps in labor force participation, secondary education, parliamentary participation, and income levels in countries around the world.

H/T Flowing Data

Desire to Move and Residential Mobility

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report examining householders’ desire to move in 2010 and their subsequent mobility patterns in 2010-2011.

The residences we live in are associated with economic opportunities, health status, social relationships, and exposure to crime and disorder. This report focuses on people who desire to move to a new residence because of dissatisfaction with where they live, and it examines how frequently people who desire to move to a new residence do so. “Residences” here include housing units, neighborhoods, and local communities.

H/T Data Detectives

Influence of the Internet in Emerging and Developing Nations

The Pew Research Center examines the worldwide use and influence of the internet in it’s 2014 Global Attitudes Survey.

As more people around the world gain access to all the tools of the digital age, the internet will play a greater role in everyday life. And so far, people in emerging and developing nations say that the increasing use of the internet has been a good influence in the realms of education, personal relationships and the economy. But despite all the benefits of these new technologies, on balance people are more likely to say that the internet is a negative rather than a positive influence on morality, and they are divided about its effect on politics.

Download the full report (PDF) and the Topline Questionnaire (PDF).

The Middle Class in 30 U.S. Cities

Quoctrung Bui of Planet Money used family income data from the 2013 American Community Survey to examine how much income it takes to be middle class in 30 U.S. cities. Detroit requires the lowest income, and San Jose, CA requires the highest.

H/T Wonkblog

Big Data in 1848

In 1848, newspaper magnate and Representative Horace Greeley used open records to compare the mileage reimbursements of his fellow representatives to the postal routes (which should have been the shortest routes between districts and the U.S. capital). He found several, including Abraham Lincoln, overcharged significantly.

See Scott Klein’s story at ProPublica.

H/T Wonkblog

Measuring College Readiness

Mikhail Zinshteyn of FiveThirtyEight examines measures of college readiness and the various ways they fail:

Before we can implement policies designed to shepherd more of this country’s residents toward a college degree, we must actually know what makes a student college-ready. But what if our definitions of college readiness are incomplete, or worse, painting an unreasonably dour picture of how prepared U.S. students are for the rigors of college?

“Everyone has their own definition of college readiness, which makes it a little tricky,” said Jack Buckley, the head of research at the College Board, who previously led the Department of Education’s research arm.

So tricky, in fact, that there’s sharp disagreement over whether test scores or high school grades are better predictors of college readiness.

Consumer Spending By Age Group in 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released an interactive chart showing Percent distribution of expenditures for all consumer units, by age, 2013, annual averages.

H/T Data Detectives

Prisons Without Bars

Mark A.R. Kleinman, Angela Hawken and Ross Halperin propose a new solution to high incarceration rates, difficult re-entry into society and high recidivism rates.

For the transition from prison to life outside to be successful, it needs to be gradual. If someone needed to be locked up yesterday, he shouldn’t be completely at liberty today. And he shouldn’t be asked to go from utter dependency to total self-sufficiency in one flying leap. He needs both more control and more support. Neither alone is likely to do the job.

H/T Wonkblog

Comparing Generations

The Pew Research Center published an interactive chart comparing different generations’s experiences in 2014 and “when they were young (18-33)”.