Friday, December 28, 2012

Data link roundup (week of December 28, 2012)

The week's top data analysis links...


Today in topics that make you wonder why one person's research gets funded, but yours doesn't... CUNY researchers find a statistical link between reality television watching and tanning bed usage. (Insert Snooki joke here...)

From the abstract:
Those who did versus did not watch reality TV beauty shows used tanning lamps (12.9% vs 3.7%, P < .001) and tanned outdoors (43.3% vs 28.7%, P < .001) at significantly greater percentages. Significant predictors of tanning lamp use included watching reality TV beauty shows (odds ratio [OR] 2.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11-6.00), increasing age (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04-1.32), and female sex (OR 10.16, 95% CI 3.29-31.41). Significant predictors of outdoor tanning included watching reality TV beauty shows (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.33-3.34)
Watching reality TV beauty shows is associated with both tanning lamp use and outdoor tanning. Dermatologists should consider discussing the potential harmful aspects of tanning beds and outdoor tanning, especially with their patients who watch reality TV beauty shows.
While, as a sociologist, I understand the social construction of reality and the influence of mass media as an agent of socialization, I also understand the difference between correlation and causality. Judging by the conclusion, I suspect the authors might need a refresher course?


This week the Pew Research Center released a report "The Big Generation Gap at the Polls Is Echoed in Attitudes on Budget Tradeoffs" based on results from the general public survey.
Source: Pew Research Center


Pew also released a report on the Global Religious Landscape, including geographic distribution of populations by religious affiliation, and information about the age structure of the world's major religious groups.

Source: Pew Research Center


The most cited works in Sociology...
Thanks to scatterplot.
Source: Scatterplot

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Survey says?

If you've ever worked with survey data, this cartoon is for you...
Source: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, August 23, 1995

Friday, December 21, 2012

Data link roundup (week of December 21, 2012)

The week's top data analysis links...


The "Getting started with charts in R" tutorial from is the most bookmark-worthy post of the week.


Thanks to Urban Demographics for pointing out this link to three dozen of the most bizarre economic indicators ever proposed by economists. Here are just a few:

  • High Heels Index
  • Mosquito Bite Indicator
  • Plastic Surgery Indicator


This week the U.S. Census Bureau announced an online response option for the American Community Survey. For more information on the research that led up to this decision, see their published work on internet data collection.


Would that this were not a national headline this week, but the New York Times' map of the National Rifle Association's letter grades for members of Congress is simple to understand, and thus a powerful infographic.

NRA grades each House and Senate member with a letter grade from A to F, signifying their support for or opposition to gun access.
Source: New York Times

Friday, December 14, 2012

Data link roundup (week of December 14, 2012)

The week's top data analysis links...


Neal Caren compiled the number of job postings (containing the words "Assistant Professor" and "Tenure Track") in the American Sociological Association job bank each month from January 2007 - present. His findings: Those who are looking for a job in 2012 have more opportunities than those in 2009 or 2010, but postings are still down from their pre-recession levels.
Source: scatterplot


After reaching the lowest mover-rate on record in 2012, the U.S. population appears to be on the move again, according to a new geographic mobility report released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau and based on data from the Current Population Survey.

According to the report:
About 36.5 million people 1 year and older moved, an increase from the 2011 estimate of 35.1 million. In 2012, the majority of people who lived at a different residence 1 year ago moved within the same county (64.4 percent).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Despite increasing support for gay rights, on average, nationwide the Pew Research Center notes that substantial regional variation persists:
Source: Pew Research Center


The Business Insider illustrates that population size matters by comparing the trend in driving (as measured by vehicle miles traveled) with and without population adjustment. Without the adjustment, there appears to be a small, recession-oriented drop in driving. With the adjustment, a longer-term, lower-driving trend appears to be underway.

Miles driven (without population adjustment):
Source: Business Insider

Miles driven (adjusted for population size):
Source: Business Insider

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nation's largest metros growing, but reasons vary

America's biggest metropolitan areas are growing, but for very different reasons, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Among metropolitan areas of 2.5 million people or larger, only Detroit lost population between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. The other twenty large metro areas all saw population growth. However, drivers of growth varied widely among metropolitan areas.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Population change occurs because of births, deaths, and migration. Births and deaths, collectively, are referred to as "natural increase."

At the state, county, and local level, migration can measured in a variety of ways, but is often estimated in terms of net international migration (those moving into, or out of, an area from abroad) and net domestic migration (those moving into, or out of, an area from another area within the same nation).


In the nation's three largest metropolitan areas, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, population grew as a result of births, longer life expectancy, and international migration.

However, net domestic migration estimates show that more residents moved out of these areas to other parts of the United States than moved into these areas between 2010 and 2011.


The largest metropolitan areas in Texas, however, showed an entirely different pattern, acting as magnets for migration from other parts of the United States.

The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas both grew by more than 100,000 during the year with 20 percent or more of that growth coming from net domestic migration.


Miami and Tampa, Florida's largest metropolitan areas, were also net-attractors of residents from other parts of the U.S. Miami showed fairly even population growth across all categories (20,400 natural increase, 35,200 international migrants, 36,200 domestic migrants) for net population growth of more than 92,000.

While Tampa attracted more than 27,000 domestic migrants, net international migration was less than 7,000, and an aging population resulted in net natural increase of only 2,300, the lowest of all 21 large metropolitan areas in the report.


As noted above, more residents moved out of the Los Angeles metro area than moved in between 2010 and 2011. However, other large metros in California fared better. As a result of net domestic in-migration San Francisco gained 5,900, Riverside-San Bernardino gained more than 15,000, and San Diego grew by 800.

Methodology and Source Notes:
The figures shown above are from the U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates (vintage 2011). Additional information on patterns of migration can be found in the Current Population Survey report on geographic mobility.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Counting empty calories from alcohol

While New York City enacts new regulations to curb consumption of empty calories in sugary soft drinks, a new report from the CDC suggests that alcoholic beverages may pose a similar empty-calories health problem.
From the report:
Although the risks of excessive alcohol consumption in terms of injury and chronic disease are well known, less is known about the calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. As with calorically sweetened beverages, alcoholic beverages are a top contributor to caloric intake but provide few nutrients.
Analysis is based on information collected in a 24-hour dietary recall interview conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2007 and 2010. NHANES sample size is approximately 10,000, and analysis of alcohol consumption focuses on respondents age 20 and older.

CDC finds that on any given day one third of men and nearly twenty percent of women consume alcoholic beverages. On average, adults in the U.S. consume an average of 100 calories* worth of alcohol per day. Men, on average, consume three times as many calories from alcoholic beverages as women do. Across both sexes, those who consume alcohol often do so in larger-than-recommended quantities:
...almost 20% of men and 6% of women consume more than 300 calories from alcoholic beverages, which is equivalent to 2 or more 12-ounce (oz) beers, more than 2½ glasses of wine (12.5 oz), or more than 4.5 oz of spirits.
The study authors note that "on a given day, consumers of alcoholic beverages obtain approximately 16% of their total caloric intake from alcoholic beverages" which is higher than the dietary recommendation that no more than 15 percent of calories come from discretionary solid fats and added sugars.

Avg. calories from alcoholic beverages per day among U.S. adults age 20+,
by sex, age, and type of alcohol (2007-10)

Source: CDC

With respect to age and sex differences, CDC finds that most alcoholic-beverage calories consumed by men are from beer. Among women, calorie consumption is evenly distributed across beer, wine, and liquor. Across both sexes, consumption is highest in the 20-39 age group and lowest among those age 60 and older.

*Note: According to CDC, one beer is approximately 150 calories, one glass of wine is approximately 120 calories, and 1.5 ounces of liquor is approximately 100 calories.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Data link roundup (week of December 7, 2012)

The week's top data analysis links...


A new map tool from Brookings shows the relative economic strength and rate of recovery for metropolitan areas around the world, and includes data from 1993-2012.


The Economist reminds us that this week text messaging turned 20. (Another year and drunk-texting is legal?)
Source: The Economist


RCLCO delivers more evidence that Millennials are less auto-centric than other generations of Americans.

The study authors surveyed residents in the 20 largest metropolitan in the U.S. to "gauge current attitudes toward auto use and ownership." According to study authors:
The survey results show significant continued devotion to the auto—over 60% of all respondents answered affirmatively when asked whether they own and need a personal automobile and could not live without it—but a substantial minority expressed a willingness to consider alternatives to auto ownership, such as relocation to other locations with improved public transit and car sharing.  Not surprisingly, the Gen Ys (born since the early 1980s), with their now well-known urban preferences, show considerable interest in these ideas. From a real estate development perspective, the impact of less auto usage, and by extension less on-site parking, can have a dramatic impact on development costs. Results from the RCLCO survey indicate that significant generational differences exist in attitudes toward car ownership. For example, Gen Y respondents indicated that they prefer not to own a car at a much greater rate than their counterparts in other generations—32% of responding Gen Ys do not own a car and do not need one, because they use public transit and/or alternative transportation. This is approximately twice the rate for Gen X and over three times the rate for older generations.
(Author's note: I suspect texting is the driving force behind this shift.)


This week the U.S. Census Bureau released 5-year American Community Survey data for 2011. The FactFinder2 application offers online mapping capabilities, as illustrated by the Florida and New York teen birth rate maps shown below.
Source: Author's compilation of data from the FactFinder2 mapping tool
The maps represent the proportion of females age 15-19 who report having a birth in the past 12 months when questioned during the 2007-2011 ACS survey period.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How (not) to respond to reviewer comments

Having been on both sides of the reviewer/reviewee spectrum, I found "Addressing Reviewer Comments" from PhD Comics particularly amusing:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bloomberg gets birth headline wrong

In an article published yesterday, and based off of birth rate trends reported by the Pew Research Center, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that U.S. births are at their lowest since 1920.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Not so fast...

The Pew analysis, based on National Vital Events records and American Community Survey data, found that the birth rate is at its lowest point on record in the United States. Pew's authors write:

The overall U.S. birth rate, which is the annual number of births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15 to 44, declined 8% from 2007 to 2010. The birth rate for U.S.-born women decreased 6% during these years, but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period.1 The birth rate for Mexican immigrant women fell even more, by 23%.

Final 2011 data are not available, but according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That rate is the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers.

The 2011 birth rate, indeed, appears to be the lowest on record. However, the U.S. population is three times larger in 2011 than it was in 1920 (105.7 million in 1920 compared with 311.0 million on April 1, 2011).

As a result of the two combined demographic forces, a growing population and a declining birth rate, the total number of births is still higher in 2011 (3,953,600) than it was in 1920 (2,777,000).

The chart, from CDC, illustrates this point. The darker blue line represents the total number of births, while the lighter colored line represents the rate.
Source: CDC
Births and the birth rate are not one and the same.

This might seem like an unimportant nuance, but consider the implications for school planning if the public is led to believe that five years from now there will be fewer children in Kindergarten than there were during World War I...