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Tag Archives: social justice

How much vacation time do workers get?

Statista put together a chart (copied here) of vacation time for 12 countries selected from OECD data  (see table PF2.3.A) of 42 countries in the post Vacation: Americans Get A Raw Deal by Niall McCarthy (8/8/18). Of the 42 countries listed the U.S. is the only one with a statutory minimum days of paid leave of 0. In fact, only 9 countries have a statutory minimum below 20 days.  The medium number of public holidays is 11, while the U.S. has 10. Four countries tie with the maximum of 15 public holidays.  The statista article notes:

The U.S. remains the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation. Even though some companies are generous and provide their employees with up to 15 days of paid leave annually, almost one in four private sector workers does not receive any paid vacation, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

How many people are there and how many can the earth support?

The article in The Conversation 7.5 billion and counting: How many humans can the Earth support? by Andrew D. Hwang (7/9/18) provides some details.  The graph here, copied from the article provides population number and future estimates. 

For real populations, doubling time is not constant. Humans reached 1 billion around 1800, a doubling time of about 300 years; 2 billion in 1927, a doubling time of 127 years; and 4 billion in 1974, a doubling time of 47 years.

On the other hand, world numbers are projected to reach 8 billion around 2023, a doubling time of 49 years, and barring the unforeseen, expected to level off around 10 to 12 billion by 2100.

The article provides a link to download the data and discusses key points related to inequality. For example,

Wealthy countries consume out of proportion to their populations. As a fiscal analogy, we live as if our savings account balance were steady income.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental think tank, the Earth has 1.9 hectares of land per person for growing food and textiles for clothing, supplying wood and absorbing waste. The average American uses about 9.7 hectares.

These data alone suggest the Earth can support at most one-fifth of the present population, 1.5 billion people, at an American standard of living.

This article is useful for QL and Stats classes, as well as anyone that would like to use population data and/or discuss carrying capacity.

What are the prospects for high school grads?

The EPI article Class of 2018 High school edition by Elise Gould, Zane Mokhiber, & Julia Wolfe (6/14/18) provides a thorough review.  Figure I from the report, copied here, shows 2000 and 2018 wages for high school grads not enrolled in further schooling by race and gender.

In 2018, young workers with a high school diploma have an average hourly wage of $11.85, which translates to annual earnings of around $24,600 for a full-time, full-year worker. This overall average masks important differences in wages by gender and race.

The report has 11 graphs each with data that can be downloaded along with the graph.  A few points from the article:

  • Only 32% of 18-64 have a four year degree or more while 10.5% haven’t graduated high school. (see figure A)
  • The percent of high school grads (18-21) that are employed and not enrolled has increased from 26% in 2010 to 31% in 2018. (see figure c)
  • Over much of the last three decades, wage growth for young high school graduates has been essentially flat. (see figure H)

The first paragraph of their conclusion:

While there may be many reasons someone might choose to enter the labor force after high school rather than attend college, college should at least be a viable option; a person’s economic resources should not be the determining factor in whether they get to go to college. But, as things stand, the prospect of staggering debt may discourage students from less wealthy families from enrolling in further education or prevent them from completing a degree.

What is the poverty rate in OECD countries?

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) defines poverty as an income below half the median household income. The chart here was created using the most recent year of data from the OECD poverty rate page .  The U.S. leads the pack with a rate of 17.8%, with Israel right behind at 17.7%. At the bottom are Denmark and Finland with rates of 5.5% and 5.8% respectively.  It is important to note, as the OECD does,

However, two countries with the same poverty rates may differ in terms of the relative income-level of the poor.

The data is available for more than OECD countries on their page and there is an interactive graph, but the graph can’t be dowloaded. The data and R script that created the graph here are available: csv file, R script.

Citation for data:OECD (2018), Poverty rate (indicator). doi: 10.1787/0fe1315d-en (Accessed on 11 July 2018)

What is the story of suicides in the U.S.?

The article in the Conversation, Why is suicide on the rise in the US – but falling in most of Europe? by Steven Stack (6/28/18), tries to get at the story. The first chart (copied here), clearly shows that the suicide rate rose from 199-2015 overall and considerably more for the 45-54 age group (stats regression problem here).  There is a second chart showing changes in suicide rates in Western European countries:

However, suicide rates in other developed nations have generally fallen. According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates fell in 12 of 13 Western European between 2000 and 2012. Generally, this drop was 20 percent or more. For example, in Austria the suicide rate dropped from 16.4 to 11.5, or a decline of 29.7 percent.

The obvious question is why?

There has been little systematic research explaining the rise in American suicide compared to declining European rates. In my view as a researcher who studies the social risk of suicide, two social factors have contributed: the weakening of the social safety net and increasing income inequality.

The article has two more charts showing that the U.S. is low on Social Welfare Expenditures as a percent of GDP and is high on inequality. In all instances the data is available for download and there are links to the original sources.

What economic impacts does some college education have on men?

The article in the Conversation 22 percent of men without college don’t have jobs. Here’s why they’re being left behind. by Erin Wolcott (6/7/2018) makes two points:

But the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the full story because it only includes people actively looking for work. People who report not having looked for work in the previous four weeks are completely left out of this number. The employment rate, which is the share who are actually employed, captures the full picture.

And the numbers are stark. Back in the 1950s, there was no education-based gap in employment. About 90 percent of men aged 25-54 – regardless of whether they went to college – were employed.

The Great Recession was particularly painful for men without any college. By 2010, only 74 percent had a job, compared with 87 percent of those with a year or more of college.

By 2016, from the graph here copied from the article, the gap was 90% vs 78%. For the second point:

The gap extends to the wages of those who actually had jobs as well. As recently as 1980, real hourly wages for the two groups were nearly identical at about US$13. In 2015, men with at least a little college saw their wages soar 65 percent to over $22 an hour. Meanwhile, pay for those who never attended plunged by almost half to less than $8.

The article has another graph for wages. Both graphs are interactive and contain links to download the data. Read the article.

What are the symptoms of inequality?

The Guardian article, Trump’s ‘cruel’ measures pushing US inequality to dangerous level – UN warns by Ed Pilkington (6/1/18) lists some symptoms two of which are:

Americans now live shorter and sicker lives than citizens of other rich democracies;

The US incarceration rate remains the highest in the world;

The article lacks some data, which we provide here. It is true that incarceration rates in the U.S. are shockingly the highest in the world, see the chart here from the Prison Policy Initiative’s States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2018. But, this isn’t much different than in 2016 as compared to Prison Policy Initiative’s States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2016 report. Both PPI pages have links to the data sets at the bottom as well as other graphs.

As for U.S. life expectancy Our World in Data has an interactive life expectancy graph.  The last year for this graph is 2015, but by that time the U.S. already had a lower life expectancy than other wealthy countries. This graph allows us to choose other countries, has a map version, and a link to download the data.

In short, the symptoms of inequality stated in the Guardian article are not new (at least the two we focused on here), although they may be getting worse. The article is worth wording as well as the PPI report. Also explore the Our World in Data life expectancy graph. There is data and context to connect all this to stats or QL courses.



Do people in poverty work?

The EPI article, 50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign poverty persists because of a stingy safety net and a dysfunctional labor market by Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder (5/24/2018), answers the question with a graph (reposted here) and this:

The bottom bar shows us that, among those working-age individuals who are otherwise employable, 63 percent are working and 45.5 percent are working full time. An additional 37.2 percent are not working, but this share includes 1.6 million people living below the poverty line who are actively seeking a job. The data make it clear that millions of people who are active participants in the labor market are unable to make ends meet, either due to insufficient hours or low wages.

What is the Great Gatsby curve?

From The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy: The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable – You’re probably part of the problem by Matthew Stewart (June 2018) in The Atlantic. (Figure 2)

The Great Gatsby curve represents the correlation between income inequality and intergenerational income elasticity. In short, the greater the income inequality in a country the greater the relationship between a child’s income and their parent’s income.

The Atlantic article, The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy: The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable – You’re probably part of the problem by Matthew Stewart (June 2018)  is an excellent example of weaving important quantitative information (great for a QL course), including the Great Gatsby curve, to tell an important story.

Rising immobility and rising inequality aren’t like two pieces of driftwood that happen to have shown up on the beach at the same time, he noted. They wash up together on every shore. Across countries, the higher the inequality, the higher the IGE (see Figure 2). It’s as if human societies have a natural tendency to separate, and then, once the classes are far enough apart, to crystallize.

The post What is The Great Gatsby Curve? by David Vandivier (6/11/2013) has an animated gif that explains the curve well. To update or recreate the chart, you can get country gini values from the CIA World Factbook.  Intergenerational income elasticity can be found in figure 1 of a the paper Inequality from generation to generation:the United States in Comparison by Miles Corak (2012).  Intergenerational Social Mobility in OECD Countries January 2010 OECD Journal: Economic Studies 2010(1):6-6 Orsetta Causa  and Åsa Johansson is another source.  If you find more recent data let us know.

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What is an explanation for the racial disparities in student loan debt?

From Parents’ Wealth Helps Explain Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt by Fenaba R. Addo

Fenaba R. Addo has an explanation in the article Parents’ Wealth Helps Explain Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt at the Federal Reserve bank of St Louis.

An analysis of data from a youth survey found that 58 percent of black young adults reported that their parents contributed an average of $4,200 over the course of their college career. That compares to an average of $12,000 given by 72 percent of white families.

Finances by race is summarized in table 1, copied here. It is note that “All averages are statistically different at the 5 percent level by race, indicating that the differences are not a result of random chance.”  (This can be used in a statistics course and if you contact the author you might even get the data.) The article goes on to note how this may impact the future of these students:

As early as age 25, racial wealth gaps begin to emerge. In the age 25 asset survey, college-educated white young adults reported having approximately $17,000 more wealth than black young adults who had attended college. We calculated that a $10,000 increase in young adult net wealth is associated with 7.6 percent less student loan debt. Young adults with high net wealth may have benefited from transfers of wealth from their parents and subsequently may be in a better position to pay down their student loans quicker.