Demographics

Data Show the “American Dream” Is a Fallacy and Americans Still Don’t Realize It

Quartz: “Economists at Harvard University recently published research on actual and perceived economic mobility in the United States and four European countries. They found an American public in denial. The data show that Americans believe the chance that a person who is born into the bottom 20% of households in income in the US can reach the top 20% in adulthood is more than 50% higher than in reality.”

“The researchers also discovered that, within the US, an overly optimistic outlook about economic mobility is concentrated in the parts of the country where actual mobility is lowest.”

Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties 

Gallup: “As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%). At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office.”

Another interesting finding: only 60% believe Trump can “work effectively with Congress to get things done.” 89% foresaw congressional cooperation with President-elect Obama in 2009.

U.S. Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin

Gallup: “Many more Americans have considered themselves politically conservative than liberal since the early 1990s. That remained the case in 2016, when an average of 36% of U.S. adults throughout the year identified themselves as conservative and 25% as liberal. Yet that 11-percentage-point margin is half of what it was at its peak in 1996 and is down from 14 points only two years ago.”

Manufacturing Jobs Are Returning to Some Places. But These Jobs Are Different.

Washington Post: “The nation shed manufacturing jobs at a steady pace over most of the last quarter century. A combination of trade deals, automation and economic recessions sent the number of manufacturing jobs plummeting, with 6 million jobs being lost by 2011.”

“But since then, about half a million jobs have been regained.”

“They’re not the same jobs that left. They’re not coming back everywhere, or even in the same places where jobs were lost. The map of where products are made in this country is being redrawn.”

Americans Still Split on Government’s Healthcare Role

Gallup: “Slightly more Americans agree (52%) than disagree (45%) that the federal government is responsible for making sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. This balance of views is similar to last year but represents a shift from 2012 to 2014, when majorities said ensuring healthcare coverage for all was not the government’s job.”

“When asked if they would prefer a government-run healthcare system or a system based on private insurance, majorities of Americans have consistently said they prefer a private system. However, this year’s 10-percentage-point gap in favor of a private system (53%) compared with a government system (43%) is the narrowest in Gallup’s trend.”

Americans’ Support for Electoral College Rises Sharply

Gallup: “Americans’ support for keeping the Electoral College system for electing presidents has increased sharply. Weeks after the 2016 election, 47% of Americans say they want to keep the Electoral College, while 49% say they want to amend the Constitution to allow for a popular vote for president. In the past, a clear majority favored amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.”

Also interesting: 66% of adult Americans accurately identified Clinton as the winner of the popular vote. The answers did diverge along party lines, with 85% of Democrats and only 56% of Republicans naming Clinton as the popular vote winner.

Household Incomes Can Fall Even When Everyone’s Getting Richer 

R Street: “One of the politically hottest statistics right now is median household income, especially its slow growth. But there is a big problem with understanding what this statistic means, since it mixes up two different things: the changing composition of households and changes in incomes. If the makeup of households is altering dramatically, as it has in recent decades, median household income may be a quite misleading number.”

“For example, it is mathematically possible for everyone’s income to be rising, while the median household income is falling. How is that possible? The paradox is caused by counting by households, when the relationship between individuals and households keeps shifting.”

Trump Voters Favor Wall, Divided on Other Immigration Issues

Pew Research Center: “Voters who supported Donald Trump in the presidential election view illegal immigration as a serious problem in the U.S. and strongly favor his proposal to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico. But they are more divided on other questions, including whether to deport some or all of the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants.”

Researchers Have Found a Troubling New Cause of Death for Middle-Aged White Americans

Washington Post: “This week, a pair of economists have advanced a new theory. They suggest that, for many workers, a major shift in the structure of the U.S. economy may have been fatal.”

“The researchers, Justin Pierce and Peter Schott, found evidence that trade with China has resulted in greater rates of suicide and poisonings (including fatal drug overdoses) after 2000, when President Clinton and Republican lawmakers allowed a major increase in imports.”

“Pierce and Schott suggest that as competition with Chinese manufacturing forced U.S. factories to close, many of the Americans who were laid off never got their lives back together. Instead, they fell into depression or addiction. White adults, in particular, suffered from the change in policy.”