Monthly Archive for October, 2009

The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?

The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?
By: Allison Pond and Greg Smith
Source: Pew Research Center

A common perception about individuals who switch religions is that they are very fervent about their new faith. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life provides quantitative support for this piece of conventional wisdom often referred to as the “zeal of the convert.”

The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, the frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment.

However, the analysis also finds that the differences in religious commitment between converts and nonconverts are generally very small and are more apparent among some religious groups than among others.

Full text

Empire State Exodus: The Mass Migration of New Yorkers to Other States

Empire State Exodus: The Mass Migration of New Yorkers to Other States
By: Wendell Cox and E.J. McMahon
Source: Empire Center for New York State Policy (Manhattan Institute)

From the Executive Summary:

The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource—people. From 2000 to 2008, in both absolute and relative terms, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.

Based on the latest data from the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this report examines how many New Yorkers have been leaving the state, where they have been going and how much income they have been taking with them. Focusing on the period since 2000, key findings include the following:

* The annual net loss of New Yorkers to other states has ranged from a high of nearly 250,000 people in 2005 to a low of 126,000 last year, when moves nationwide slowed down sharply along with the economy. California was the only other state to lose more than a million residents to out-migration during the 2000-2008 period.
* Most of the New York State out-migrants tracked by the IRS originated in the metropolitan New York City region. Migration rates are lower upstate, but the net population impact has been larger.
* Nearly 60 percent of the New York out-migrants moved to southern states—with Florida alone drawing nearly one-third of the total. Thirty percent moved to the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
* Households moving out of New York State had average incomes 13 percent higher than those moving into New York during the most recent year for which such data are available. In 2006-07 alone, the migration flow out of New York drained $4.3 billion in taxpayer income from the state.

Complete Report (PDF)

New Working Papers from the NBER

Effects of Urban Sprawl on Obesity
By Zhenxiang Zhao, Robert Kaestner
Abstract; PDF

Long Term Effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws on Adult Alcohol Use and Driving Fatalities
By Robert Kaestner, Benjamin Yarnoff
Abstract; PDF

The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges
By Caroline M. Hoxby
Abstract; PDF

Improving Effectiveness and Outcomes for the Poor in Health, Nutrition and Population

Improving Effectiveness and Outcomes for the Poor in Health, Nutrition and Population
Source: World Bank

The World Bank Group’s support for health, nutrition, and population (HNP) has been sustained since 1997—totaling $17 billion in country-level support by the World Bank and $873 million in private health and pharmaceutical investments by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) through mid-2008. This report evaluates the efficacy of the Bank Group’s direct support for HNP to developing countries since 1997 and draws lessons to help improve the effectiveness of this support.

Click here to download Project Performance Assessment Reports for these countries

U.S. Food Stamp Enrollment Rises

U.S. Food Stamp Enrollment Rises
By: Nadwa Mossaad
Source: Population Reference Bureau
Timely economic data provide the means to assess the severity of the current economic hardship on the U.S. population. Official poverty estimates released on Sept. 10, 2009, by the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2008, the poverty rate rose to 13.2 percent, and child poverty increased from 18 percent in 2007 to 19 percent, the highest level since 1997. Another measure of economic hardship, the monthly unemployment rate, rose to 9.7 percent in August 2009, a 26-year high.
Poverty and unemployment rates help to track the long-term economic health of families and individuals, but both are indirect measures of economic hardship. A more direct measure of family economic need is the number of individuals and families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the federal Food Stamp Program. The amount of assistance depends on household size, income, and expenses. SNAP participation rates have increased dramatically in recent months and could increase even further as income levels drop and more families become eligible.
Full text

Alternative Income and Poverty Estimates: 2008

Alternative Income and Poverty Estimates: 2008
Source: U.S. Census
Press Release:
The Census Bureau will release alternative income and poverty estimates covering calendar year 2008. The data were collected from the 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The first set of alternative measures include poverty estimates only and are based on recommendations from a 1995 National Academy of Sciences panel on measuring poverty. These estimates use a broadened definition of income and a set of poverty thresholds that are conceptually consistent with this income measure. The second set of alternative measures includes both income and poverty estimates and shows the impact of cash and noncash benefits and taxes on the distribution of income and prevalence of poverty. The poverty estimates in this series are based on the official poverty thresholds. Both of these alternative measures are similar to estimates released in January 2009 covering calendar year 2007 from the 2008 CPS ASEC.
Income; Poverty
A Congressional Research Service Report based on the poverty numbers may be found here (PDF).

New Discussion Papers from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Thieves, Thugs, and Neighborhood Poverty
David Bjerk
Abstract; PDF
Estimating the Impact of Immigration on Wages in Ireland
Alan Barrett, Adele Bergin, Elish Kelly
Abstract; PDF
HIV and Fertility in Africa: First Evidence from Population Based Surveys
Chinhui Juhn, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Belgi Turan
Abstract; PDF
The Life Satisfaction Approach to Environmental Valuation
Bruno S. Frey, Simon Luechinger, Alois Stutzer
Abstract; PDF
The Gender Gap in Early Career in Mongolia
Francesco Pastore
Abstract; PDF
Health Investment over the Life-Cycle
Timothy Halliday, Hui He, Hao Zhang
Abstract; PDF
Is Posner Right? An Empirical Test of the Posner Argument for Transferring Health Spending from Old Women to Old Men
Christoph Wunder, Johannes Schwarze
Abstract; PDF

Updated Demographic Profiles of U.S. Hispanics by Country of Origin

Source: Pew Hispanic Center
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, today released five additional demographic profiles of Hispanic populations in the United States by country of origin: Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Peruvian.These five follow the release earlier this year of demographic profiles for the five largest Hispanic populations: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, and Dominican.1
More than six-in-ten Hispanics in the U.S. self-identify as being of Mexican origin. Nine of the other 10 largest Hispanic origin groups — Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Peruvian — account for about a third of the U.S. Hispanic population. There are differences across these 10 population groups in the share of each that is foreign born, citizen (by birth or naturalization), and proficient in English. They are also of varying age, tend to live in different areas within the U.S, and have varying levels of education, homeownership rates, and poverty rates.
These profiles of the 10 largest Hispanic populations in the U.S. describe the employment and income characteristics of each group. Characteristics of each group are also contrasted with the characteristics of all Hispanics and with the U.S. population overall. The profiles are based on the Center’s tabulations of the Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey (ACS).
All 10 demographic profiles are available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website.

The States of Marriage and Divorce

The States of Marriage and Divorce
By: D’Vera Cohn
Source: Pew Research Center

In Arkansas and Oklahoma, men and women marry young — half of first-time brides in these states were age 24 or younger on their wedding day. These states also have above-average shares of women who divorced in 2007-2008.

It’s the opposite state of affairs in Massachusetts and New York. Their residents marry late — half of ever-married New York men were older than age 30 when they first wed. These states also have below-average shares of men and women who divorced in 2007-2008.

Full report
Interactive Maps

Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy Decline Worldwide as Contraceptive Use Increases

Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress
By: Susheela Singh, Deirdre Wulf, Rubina Hussain, Akinrinola Bankole, and Gilda Sedgh
Source: Guttmacher Institute

From the news release:

Increases in global contraceptive use have contributed to a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies and, in turn, a decline in the number of abortions, which fell from an estimated 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003. While both the developed and the developing world experienced these positive trends, developed regions saw the greatest progress. Within the developing world, improvement varied widely, with Africa lagging behind other regions, according to “Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress,” a major new Guttmacher Institute report released today.

Full news release
Full report (PDF)