Saturday, December 16, 2006

The National Data Book

The US Census Bureau has released the 2007 statistical abstract. "The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States."

The full report with all tables has roughly 1,400 pages, and is available online. You find the abstract on this website.

Some interesting statistics:

  • The 2005 population of US residents is ~ 296,410,000 (Table 2).

  • The number of admitted immigrants increased from 2004 to 2005 and exceeded the level from 2001, after a significant drop in 2003 (Table 6).

  • 15.7% of US citizens (11.2% of children) have no health coverage (numbers from 2004). The rate of non-covered persons is the highest in Texas (25% total /21.4% children), followed by New Mexico (21%/15.3%) and Florida (19.9%/15.1%) (Table 145).

  • The most dangerous home furnishing item is the bed. In 2004 it caused 518,441 injuries. Also interesting: 121,094 people suffered injuries caused by their footwear. The statistic counts emergency room treated cases nationwide in 2004 (Table 173).

  • The number of reported cases of AIDS decreased slightly from 2003 to its 2004 value of 44,108 (Table 175).

  • South Dakota is the only state that did not report any case of Syphilis in 2004 (Table 176).

  • The percentage of current cigarette smokers decreased from 2000 to 2004, the average value in 2004 was 20.8%. From the listed groups, black women have the lowest percentage (16.0%) of smokers (Table 191).

  • 7.9 % of US citizens age 12 and older classify themselves as 'current users of illicit drugs'. The caption says 'Current users are those who used drugs at least once within month prior to this study'. (Table 194)

  • 65.3 % of US citizens are overweight. The statistics I printed has a chocolate smear. (Table 198).

  • 2004 in the land of plenty: 13,494,000 households in the US were food insecure. The number of households with hunger among children raised from 0.5 % in 2003 to 0.7 % in 2004 (Table 2004). Though recently the department of agriculture has defined hunger as a non-existent state, see also 'Very low food security'.

  • The average US citizen consumed 24.6 gallons of coffee, and 25.2 gallons of beer in 2004 (Table 201).

  • 74.1% of doctorates in physical sciences (astronomy, physics and chemistry) are male, 42.0% are foreign citizens, 79.1% are white (status 2004, Table 789).

  • In the last quarter of 2005, 22.5% of flights arrived late (more than 15 min) at major US airports. The worst airport is Newark International with 41.9% (Table 1055).

  • 6,894 people filed consumer complaints against US airlines in 2005 (Table 1056).

  • The number of alternative fueled vehicles in use increased slightly from 2003 to 2004 (Table 1075).

  • 42,636 people died in, or as a cause of car accidents in 2004 (Table 1083).

  • The median income of households in 2004 was US$ 38,453. The median income White only was $40,469, Black only $23,372. 15.5% of all households have an income under $15.000, and 15.7% have an income over $100.000. (Table 671 and 672).

  • The medium household income is the highest in Connecticut with $60,528, and the lowest in West Virginia with $31,504 (Table 687).

  • 36,997,000 people (12.7%) live below poverty level, status 2004 (Table 692).

  • The US counts 3,510,000 top wealth holders with net worth of $ 1 Million or more. Most of which live in California, followed by New York and Florida (Table 700).

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  1. 3,510,000 top wealth holders with net worth of $ 1 Million or more.

    Almost any new house in Irvine, CA costs seven figures. That doesn't imply the residents have any net worth at all, just impressive long term debt. Creative mortgage balloons burst on 02 January 2007. Pre-owned housing prices will be more accessible as mortgage holders panic.

  2. Hi Uncle,

    sure, you don't actually need to have money to spend it. As a result, the economy and investment is dominated by those who think short term. But that goes well with politics. See also

    Stop Buying Stuff




  3. Besides, I find it really remarkable how large the gap between the rich and the poor is. And that this doesn't bother people, but they still believe their economical, social and political system is close by perfect, and an example that should be followed worldwide. Best,


  4. Hi Bee,

    It was interesting to read the item that 12.7% live in poverty.

    Poverty is a very emotional word. In many European countries poverty is officially defined as a household income of less than 50 or 60 percent of median income (I'm not sure if the US does the same or not).

    To see how ridiculous this definition is, you need only consider that you could be lifted out of European-style poverty by an income cut (if the rich received a proportionately bigger cut), or that doubling everyone's income would still leave you in poverty.

    So really the statement that 12.7% live in poverty is really a discussion about what is meant by "poverty" in the first place. I bet that when you read the word "poverty" it creates some fairly strong mental imagery.

    Unlike the sociologists and politicians, I think we should use more objective and quantitative words to describe the statistical distribution of wealth.

    The same goes for the percentage of overweight people, but here we at least prefer to call them "overweight" rather than "fat" and the usual definition based on BMI is absolute rather than relative to everyone else.

    best regards,

  5. Dear Charles:

    This is of course absolutely correct. The meaning of a statistic stands and falls with the definition of the quantity displayed. You are right that words like poverty, hunger, and overweight come with the company of common sociological, traditional and historical interpretations. The problem then is that even though the statistics makes use of a distinct definition, the average person reading the word might have a different association. I think it might have been for this reason that the department of agriculture wants to avoid the word 'hunger'.

    I apologize for not properly stating the all precise definitions used in the book in my above post, but you find them in the tables that I referred to. Regarding poverty, see e.g.

    Poverty Thresholds 2005

    Regarding the difference between North America and Europe: according to Wikipedia Germany defines the poverty threshold (Armutsgrenze) to be 60% of the average income. In 2003 this was 11,256 EUR. I can't recall the change of US$ to EUR in 2003, but I remember the dollar was quite weak then. According to the US Census Bureau, the poverty threshold 2003 in the US was $ 9,573. Of course there are differences in the cost of living, but for most things I can recall (groceries, supplies, rent, insurance...) the US is more expensive (exceptions being gasoline and postage fees).



  6. hmm, it just occurred to me that I definitely lived below the poverty threshold in 2003. I lived quite well though, and for the emergency situation I had my grandmother ;-)

  7. Dear B,

    There's certainly no need to apologise - these aren't your definitions.

    A relative measure of poverty only tells you about the shape of the income distribution rather than anything about actual buying power or hardship.

    I think you could quite reasonably argue that the the definition of overweight could be redefined as relative to median weight (say 160%) and poverty could be redefined to be the absolute income requied to eat, shelter, stay warm etc.

    Under these definitions there would be no huge increase in overweight people and poverty would be well on the way to total eradication - something that definitely wouldn't fit the political agenda of those who make the definitions ;-)

    But sadly, all the debates I ever listen to take these definitions as read even though all the really interesting debate is contained in the definitions rather than the statistics generated by them.

  8. Hi Bee, Charles,

    concerning poverty in Germany: yesterday I heard in the radio an interview where someone said that the life expectancy of poor (probably acoording to this part of median income definition) is up to ten years lower than for rich. Morover, living on "Hartz IV", as the now infamous social subsistance is called, does not allow one to afford a diet in accordance with the offical recommendations for a healthy living. Unfortunatelty, I didn't get who was speaking and have no reference right now...

    Best, stefan

  9. Another interesting statistic:legal and illegal immigration accounts for 100 percent of current US population growth(if you also take into account the number of offspring immigrants are having).

    Another ineresting fact :if the 1965 immigration refrom act had not been passed, the US population would have peaked at 250 million.


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