Category: Social Issues

Trends in marriage and fertility by race in the United States

This is a brief data post illustrating trends in marriage and fertility by race during all years for which data is available. I decided to make this post after failing to find useful charts clearly documenting this information. So I constructed the charts that I wanted by piecing together information from different publications of CDC and Census data. All of the data is (at the moment) publicly available online and all of my charts/calculations are available in a Google spreadsheet that is cited in each section.

Rates of risky sexual behaviors among high schoolers by race and sex in the United States

In this post, I document rates of risky sexual behaviors by race and sex in the United States. The data is based on surveys conducted by the CDC on nationally representative samples of high school students between 1991 and 2021. The data generally show patterns that are in line with other patterns regarding engagement in undesirable behavior: black students generally report greater rates of risky behavior than white and Hispanic students, who both report greater rates than Asian students. However, most of the racial disparities have decreased significantly in the past 10 years, leaving very small or even reversed gaps in the most recent surveys.

Parental SES vs parental cognitive ability as predictors of offspring cognitive outcomes

This post reviews studies the estimate the effect of parental SES on offspring cognitive outcomes, after controlling for parental cognitive ability. The results show that parental SES has only weak associations with offspring cognitive outcomes after controlling for parental cognitive ability. Specifically, parental income consistently has weak or insignificant effects on offspring cognitive outcomes after such controls. By contrast, parental cognitive ability has robust associations with offspring cognitive outcomes even after controlling for parental SES and observablehome/parenting factors.

Regional analyses of racial disparities in violent crime in the United States

In this post, I analyze racial disparities in violent crime across different regions in the United States. Relying on publicly available data published by the CDC, the FBI, and the Census, I perform different analyses on racial differences in violent crime at the state-level, county-level, and city-level. For example, I consider differences in violent crime commission or victimization rate, percentage of violent crime offenders or victims by race, correlations by racial demographics and violent crime rate, and regression analyses to estimate the association between racial demographics and violent crime controlling for socioeconomic variables.

Arrest rates by race reflect crime rates by race

There is no dispute that there are large racial disparities in arrest rates in the United States, particularly between blacks and whites. The most natural inference to draw from this data is that these racial disparities in arrest rates are caused by racial disparities in crime rates. However, some argue that this natural inference is either incorrect or unjustified. They argue that racial differences in arrest rates may not reflect racial differences in crime rates, e.g. arrests by police may be biased, the crime data reporting may be biased, etc. In this post, I will provide data showing that the natural inference is in fact correct and justified. There is ample independent data showing that FBI-reported arrest rates by race are accurate reflections of true crime rates by race.

Racial differences in relationship and childbearing patterns

The post documents racial differences in relationship and childbearing patterns. This covers a broad range of topics including racial differences in marriage rates, cohabitation rates, marital stability, marital well-being, sexual behaviors, pregnancies, abortions, fertility rates, single mother household rates, half-siblings, and more. In general, there is a typical rank-order of desirable outcomes by race/ethnicity. Asians tend to have the best outcomes, followed by whites, Hispanics, and then blacks with the worse outcomes.

Parental SES vs cognitive ability as predictors of academic achievement

In this post, I will review studies comparing the predictive validity of cognitive ability and parental socioeconomic status (SES) on academic achievement. Parental SES is usually measured via some combination of parental income, educational attainment, and occupational status. Academic achievement is measured either through grades or achievement test scores. A clear picture emerges from each study cited in this post: cognitive ability is a far superior predictor of academic achievement than is parental SES. 

The scope of racial disparities in test scores in the United States

The purpose of this post is to provide a comprehensive overview of racial and ethnic disparities on cognitive and academic tests in the United States. The primary focus is on black and white Americans because most data focuses on comparing these groups, but I’ll also mention disparities for other groups (mainly Hispanics and Asians) when such data is available. I start by reviewing data on the magnitude of racial disparities in cognitive ability. Next, I consider racial disparities in other kinds of tests, including college admissions and academic achievement tests, finding that these disparities are about as large as disparities in cognitive ability. Then, to better contextualize the magnitude of racial disparities in test scores, I compare racial gaps to gaps between other groups, such as students from different countries or different levels of socioeconomic status. Finally, I present data on the ubiquity of test score gaps, showing that the gaps persist through all levels of education, across all geographical units of analysis, and across all socioeconomic levels.

Analyzing racial disparities in socioeconomic outcomes in three NCES datasets

In a previous post, I cited several studies showing that racial disparities in many important social outcomes are largely driven by racial disparities in cognitive ability. This post will expand on those findings by demonstrating similar patterns in 3 nationally representative datasets that I have not yet considered elsewhere. The datasets include data on socioeconomic outcomes from the early 1990s to early 2010s. I will examine how racial disparities in educational attainment, occupational prestige, and income (the three primary measures of socioeconomic status, as explained here) are related to various factors such as parental income, high school academic achievement, and family structure. My main focus is on disparities between blacks and whites, where I find that the vast majority (over 90%) of the adulthood income gap is explained by some combination of the aforementioned factors, and virtually all of the disparity in educational attainment and occupational prestige are explained by high school achievement.

Parental SES vs youth cognitive ability as predictors of socioeconomic outcomes

In this post, I will review studies that compare the predictive validity of youth cognitive and parental socioeconomic status (SES) on future socioeconomic outcomes based on large national representative longitudinal samples in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, and Germany . The measures of both parental SES and socioeconomic outcomes are primarily comprised of educational attainment, occupational attainment, and income. The studies converge on the conclusion that youth cognitive ability is by far the superior predictor of socioeconomic outcomes.

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