Thursday, January 1, 2015

Amazing Facts From The Hipcrime Vocab 2014

I've been working on my customary "best of" list for the past year, but this year I thought I'd do something different. I had a couple of posts of factoids, and I noticed a lot of statistics in the various posts this year told a story of their own. So I thought I'd run some of what I thought were the most interesting and salient facts from the past year.

All of these were on the blog, so if you want, you can look for them in last years posts. Fun for the whole family! I've also included some new ones with their references.

Of course, I'm just passing these statistics along, so if you have a quibble with them, you can point it out, of course, but the source comes from elsewhere. Some discrepancies in income statistics are no doubt caused by how income is counted, adjusted for inflation, etc.

So without further ado:

• One-third of Americans who were middle class in 2008 now consider themselves lower or lower middle class ...there has been a sharp increase in the number of people calling themselves lower class, and a somewhat smaller rise in the number calling themselves lower-middle, so that at this point the combined “lower” categories are close to a plurality of the population —- 47 percent.

• Last Year Was the 4th-Best Year Ever for the Top 1 Percent.

• In 1919..New York produced more than 50 percent of total national output in 12 lines of manufacture, and was competitive in many more.In 1939,[women] represented 36 percent of the total workforce. In 1940, 60 percent of New York workers had manufacturing jobs. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, industry now provides just 16% of private-sector jobs.

• If current trends continue, the last male will graduate from college in 2068.

• Yaneer Bar-Yam...charted the rise in the FAO food price index—a measure the UN uses to map the cost of food over time-and found that whenever it rose above 210, riots broke out worldwide.

• China has lost more than an entire Netherlands-worth of wetlands in the last decade—340,000 sq. km, or 9% of China’s total land—to agriculture, development, and climate change.

• As of 2007, the top 1% of households in America owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% had 50.5% of the wealth. This means that just 20% of the people owned 85% of the wealth, leaving only 15% for the bottom 80% of the people.

• Relatively low local temperature increases of 1C or more above pre-industralised levels are projected to “negatively impact” yields of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions. The report forecasts that climate change will reduce median yields by up to 2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century – against a backdrop of rising demand that is set to increase by 14 per cent per decade until 2050.

• The years before Genghis Khan's rule were characterised by severe drought from 1180 to 1190.... But as the empire expanded from from 1211 to 1225, Mongolia saw an unusual spell of regular rainfall and mild temperatures.

• John Maynard Keynes ...reckoned people might need work no more than 15 hours per week by 2030.

• Gilens and Page look at a number of issues over the past 30+ years where polling data let us identify public policy preferences, which can be compared with elite and interest-group preferences. And what they find is that politicians don’t seem to care very much about what the public thinks: when elite preferences and popular preferences are different, the elite almost always wins.

• Median per capita income was $18,700 in the United States in 2010 (which translates to about $75,000 for a family of four after taxes), up 20 percent since 1980 but virtually unchanged since 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The same measure, by comparison, rose about 20 percent in Britain between 2000 and 2010 and 14 percent in the Netherlands. Median income also rose 20 percent in Canada between 2000 and 2010, to the equivalent of $18,700....Middle-class incomes in Canada - substantially behind in 2000 - now appear to be higher than in the United States.The American poor now clearly trail the poor in several other rich countries.

• The average U.S. CEO is paid 331 times as much as their average employee. A new Demos report finds that the fast food industry, "has the greatest CEO-to-worker pay disparity in our economy, with ratios exceeding 1,000-to-1.

• If in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre...and...these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems.

• According to [Thomas] Talhelm, Growing rice tends to foster cultures that are more cooperative and interconnected...Wheat, on the other hand, as well as barley and corn, doesn't generally require irrigation — or much collaboration....So wheat farming fosters cultures with more individualism, independence and innovation,

• There are more American men on disability insurance than doing production work in manufacturing.

• The workforce participation rate is the lowest since March, 1978.

•  More black men are behind bars or under the watch of the criminal justice system than there were enslaved in 1850.

• More people now have mobile telephones around the world than have access to a flush toilet.

• A quarter of the world's population, or 1.6 billion people, now suffer from some form of myopia, according to the Myopia Institute. If unchecked, those numbers are estimated to reach one-third of the world's population by 2020.

• The number of people in the world who are obese or overweight has topped 2.1 billion, up from 875 million in 1980.

• There are now more than 240 million cars on China’s roads, with more new vehicles added in 2012 than there were on the road, total, at the turn of the century.

• China's coal consumption has grown rapidly in recent years, and is now far larger than anything the world has ever seen, with more than 3.2 billion tonnes per year, almost as much per year as all other countries combined,

• In just two years, from 2011 to 2012, China produced more cement than the US did in the entire 20th century.

• There is currently an all-time-high of 6.2 million missing workers. Almost a quarter of them (1.4 million) are under age 25.

• It costs $13,660 for an American to have a hip replacement in Belgium; in the U.S., it's closer to $100,000.

• With what the federal government spent on its various and sundry student aid initiatives last year, it could have covered the tuition bill of every student at every public college in the country.

• Over the last generation in the United States,...Growth has been...up 147 percent per capita. But rather than decline further, the poverty rate has bounced around in the 12 to 15 percent range — higher than it was even in the early 1970s...From 1959 to 1973, a more robust United States economy and fewer people living below the poverty line went hand-in-hand. That relationship broke apart in the mid-1970s. If the old relationship between growth and poverty had held up, the E.P.I. researchers find, the poverty rate in the United States would have fallen to zero by 1986 and stayed there ever since.

• Only 25% of Americans said that they have "achieved the American dream". And only 34% of respondents think most children "will grow up better off" than their parents.

• In 1809, the average price of a slave was $40,000 when adjusted to today’s money. In 2009, the average price of a slave was $90.

• If you are an American, you have an average of 32 slaves working for you around the world.

• American women have regained the employment level they were at before the recession. Men, by contrast, have not.

• Before tax and welfare spending, Germany and Belgium are more unequal than the US.

• Finland, one of the most equal countries in the world, has grown faster than the US.

• Greeks actually work 1.4 and 1.5 times longer than the supposedly workaholic Germans and Dutch. Italians also defy the myth of 'lazy Mediterranean types' by working as long as Americans and 1.25 times longer than their German neighbours...The 'lazy' Greeks are the hardest working people in the rich world after South Koreans.

• Over 70% of people in absolute poverty actually live in middle-income countries. As of the mid-2000's, over 170 million people in China (around 13% of its population) and 450 million people in India (around 42% of its population) lived with incomes below the international poverty line.

• The National Employment Law Project reported that real median household income fell 10% between 2007 and 2012.

• Two-thirds of American households are unable to raise $400 cash without selling possessions or borrowing from family and friends.

• Eighteen percent [or student loan borrowers] are either in collection or behind in their payments. Another 34% have student loans in deferment or forbearance.

• Between October 2008 and July 2014 the working age population grew by 13.4 million persons, but the US labor force grew by only 1.1 million.

• 2007 saw American real GDP per capita not at $57,388 but $49,310.6–a 16% gap relative to reasonable expectations as of 1979... Projecting growth forward from 1923, 1951, and 1979 to 2014 would have led us to expect a 2009-dollar real GDP level right now of $68,246.2. We are going to have $50,295.0–a 35.7% gap....we have had barely as much as half the economic growth since 1979 that back in 1979 we expected.

• The "standard run" predictions of the Limits to Growth study are playing out, and according to that model things start going pear-shaped sometime between 2015 and 2020.

• In 2012, 2,714 British bankers were paid more than €1m – 12 times as many as any other EU country....Between 2011 and 2013, bank lending fell in more than 80% of Britain's 120 postcode areas.

• There is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100. This overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people....even an event that wiped out two billion people would still leave about eight and a half billion in 2100.

• 21% of Cambridge students have been diagnosed with depression, while a further 25% think they may be depressed.

• Every year approximately 400 physicians take their own lives. That is roughly one per day, or the equivalent of two entire graduating medical classes each year.

• A cartel was formed by the lightbulb industry (the Pheobus cartel) to reduce bulb life. By early 1925, [average lightbulb life] became codified at 1,000 hours for a pear-shaped household bulb, a marked reduction from the 1,500 to 2,000 hours that had previously been common.

• In 1988, the typical American adult was 40 years old, white and married, with a high school diploma. If he was a man, he probably worked full time. If she was a woman, she probably didn’t. Twenty-five years later, Americans are older, more diverse and more educated. We are less likely to be married and more likely to live alone. Work is divided more evenly between the sexes. One thing that hasn’t changed? The income of the median U.S. household is still just under $52,000. As a country,...“we peaked in the late 1990s.”

• In 1970, 55 percent of U.S. income was earned by households in the middle 60 percent of the income distribution. More than half of households were in what Pew Research Center has labeled the “middle tier” of households (those earning between two-thirds and twice the median income). In 2013, both numbers had fallen to about 45 percent. In a 2012 report, Pew researchers called the 2000s “the lost decade of the middle class.”

• The median American guessed that executives out-earned factory workers roughly 30-to-1—exponentially lower than the highest actual estimate of 354-to-1. They believed the ideal ratio would be about 7-to-1. Americans had little idea how concentrated wealth truly was...Subjects estimated that the top 20 percent of U.S. households owned about 59 percent of the country’s net worth, whereas in the real world, they owned about 84 percent of it. In their own private utopia, subjects said that the top quintile would claim just 32 percent of the wealth. In fact, the ideal looked strikingly like Sweden....92 percent of Americans opted for Sweden’s [income distribution] over the United States.

• New York and Washington DC have Ginis reflecting more inequality than what we find in Mexico or Nigeria. Manhattan and Putnam County, Tennessee have Ginis almost as high as that of South Africa.

• In 1966, federal agents crushed light bulbs containing trillions of bacteria on the New York Subway, exposing thousands of rush hour commuters.

• By the time the Koch brothers wake up on Christmas morning, the wealth the two men will have accumulated throughout the night could get a room for the night for every one of the 633,000 homeless Americans.

• Roman concrete was stronger, longer-lasting and more environmentally-friendly than today.
• When it comes to global warming, only 33 per cent [of Americans] expressed a high degree of confidence that it is “man made,” something the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared is all but certain.

• While 14.9 percent of the U.S. population was below the poverty line in 2010, a quarter of all poor Americans lived in neighborhoods with poverty rates above 20 percent.

• In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than to think.

• 20% of all families in the US do not have a single member that is employed.

• 85 people alone command as much wealth as the poorest half of the world.

• 47 percent of the world's currently existing jobs are likely to be automated over the next two decades...A 2013 paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, of the University of Oxford, argued that jobs are at high risk of being automated in 47% of the occupational categories into which work is customarily sorted. That includes accountancy, legal work, technical writing and a lot of other white-collar occupations.

• Corporate profits have doubled since 2000, yet median household income (adjusted for inflation) dropped from $55,986 to $51,017. At the same time, after-tax corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product increased from around 5 to 11 percent, while compensation of employees as a share of GDP dropped from around 47 to 43 percent.

• The proportion of American adults participating in the labour force recently hit its lowest level since 1978, and although some of that is due to the effects of ageing, some is not...In the 1960s only one in 20 of those men [between 25 and 54.] was not working. According to [Larry] Summers’s extrapolations, in ten years the number could be one in seven.

• In 1500 an estimated 75% of the British labour force toiled in agriculture. By 1800 that figure had fallen to 35%.

• On the eve of the war [World War One], 63% of the four million people in Berlin worked for wages, that is in what you might call modern industry.

• The share of American employment in manufacturing has declined sharply since the 1950s, from almost 30% to less than 10%. At the same time, jobs in services soared, from less than 50% of employment to almost 70%.

• The No. 1 occupational category that [the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics] thinks will add the most jobs over the next 10 years is personal care aides. It says there will be 580,800 of them. At No. 2 is registered nurses. Home health aides is No. 4, and nursing assistants is No. 6.

• According to data from the U.S. Labor Department Bureau of LaborStatistics (BLS), engineering jobs in the first quarter of 2013 declined by 40,000 and the unemployment rate for engineers rose to 6.5%

• The typical man here [Appalachia] dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women's life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.

• At its height, writes [Jaron] Lanier “Kodak employed more than 140,000 people.” ...“When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people.”

• Thirty steps linearly gets you to 30, whereas 30 steps exponentially (2, 4, 8, 16. . .) gets you to a billion.

• The number of people making $1 million or more soared by over 18 percent from 2009.

• Despite population growth, the number of Americans with jobs fell again last year, with total employment of just under 150.4 million — down from 150.9 million in 2009 and 155.4 million in 2008. In all, there were 5.2 million fewer jobs than in 2007, when the deep recession began, according to the IRS data.

• Since 1980, roughly 5 percent of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation's richest households, according to the Census Bureau.

• While the average U.S income last year was $39,959, the mean income — the figure where half earn more and half earn less — was much lower, $26,364. This disparity reflects the fact that "the distribution of workers by wage level is highly skewed," according to Social Security. Median compensation last year was just 66 percent of the average income, compared with nearly 72 percent in 1980.

• Typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046. Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009.There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June.

• One third of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck, and if they lost their job, they would not be able to make their next rent or mortgage payment.

• The share of Americans struggling to put food on the table is now three times as large as the share of the Chinese population in the same position.

• From 2002 until 2007, about two-thirds of all income gains went to the top 1 percent of households. The top 1 percent saw their incomes increase more than 10 percent per year, adjusted for inflation. The 99 percent saw their incomes increase a measly 1.3 percent per year...from 1980 until 2005, the 99 percent saw just one-fifth of the overall gains in income.

• The 1 percent has about 43 percent of all the nonhousing wealth. Sociologist William Domhoff reports that the 99 percent hold just 38 percent of equity in businesses, 40 percent of financial securities, and 62 percent of stocks and mutual funds. Among the 99 percent, about one in three households has more than $10,000 in stock. Among the 1 percent, nearly nine in 10 households do.

• About half of households within that 47 percent do not end up paying federal income tax because they qualify for enough breaks to cancel their tax obligations out. Of that group, 44 percent are claiming tax benefits for the elderly, like an exemption for Social Security payments. And 30.4 percent are claiming credits for “children and the working poor,” like the child-care tax credit.

• From 1979 to 2007, the inflation-adjusted pre-tax incomes of the highest-income 1 percent of families (in 2011, the 1 percent are those with incomes exceeding $441,000) increased 224 percent. The incomes of the top 0.1 percent rose 390 percent. For the bottom 90 percent of Americans, incomes grew just 5 percent over the same 28-year period.

• Every 5 Minutes a Child is Killed by Violence

• Up to a third of the population will suffer from an anxiety disorder or panic attacks at some point in their life.

• More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.

• One in five Americans is taking psychiatric drugs

• America employs more private security guards than high-school teachers.

• America's Mentally Ill Prisoners Outnumber Hospital Patients, Tenfold

• US soldiers are more likely to kill themselves than be killed in combat

• Each Year Since the Recession, America's Richest 1% Have Made More Than the Cost of All U.S. Social Programs

• Just 47 Wealthy Americans Own More Than Half of the U.S. Population

• The Upper Middle Class of America Owns a Smaller Percentage of Wealth Than the Corresponding Groups in All Major Nations Except Russia and Indonesia.

• The world’s urban population is growing very rapidly, especially in the developing world. [I]n India alone such an expansion [of urban populations] will require the building of, in essence, a new Chicago every year for the next several decades.

• [T]he extinction of species, [is] now estimated to be at about the same rate as it was 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the Earth.

• The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

• Somebody dies by taking their own life every 40 seconds

• Walmart has more employees worldwide — 2.2 million — than the population of Houston. The mega-retailer employs 1.4 million people in the U.S. alone.

• In fiscal year 2012, Wal-Mart registered approximately $444 billion in sales, which is $20 billion more than Austria's GDP. If Walmart were a country, it would be the 26th largest economy in the world.

• [B]etween 2010 and 2013, only the top 10 percent of Americans saw their incomes increase...incomes for lower- and middle-class Americans fell the most.

• The [U.S.] federal government does far less to ameliorate the disparities than the governments of other developed countries.

• Up to 32 states...have either legalized recreational or medicinal use of [cannabis]

• Last Year, the World Pumped Out More Carbon Pollution Than Ever Before

• Police officers in England and Wales didn’t kill anyone with a gun in the two-year period that ended March 31, 2014...There isn’t comprehensive data on the number of people police in the U.S. kill each year — although it’s almost certainly more than the oft-cited FBI figure of about 400 people.

• More than one third of US adults are being pursued by collection agencies over bad bills

• Inequality In U.S. Today Is Worse than in Apartheid South Africa or 1774 Slaveholding Colonial America … and twice As Bad As In Ancient Slaveholding Rome.

• Britain is still repaying debt from the South Sea Bubble of 1720

• Americans Have Spent Enough Money On A Broken Plane to provide every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.

• A recent report showed that in one Florida community, it cost taxpayers an estimated $30,000 to take the homeless off the streets through traditional methods, but only around $10,000 per person to give them permanent housing and provide job training and other support.

• Walmart heirs' net worth exceeds that of population of a city the size of Phoenix

• In 2012, a married person with one child making $50,000 per year paid just over $36 in taxes for "food and nutrition assistance" programs like food stamps and WIC....the average US family pays a staggering $6,000 each year in subsidies to big business...US taxpayers pay a staggering $243 billion each year in indirect subsidies to the fast food industry alone.

• Trains are slower now than in the 1920s and traffic in central London moves at the same speed as horse-drawn carriages.

• Age renders you less certain as to whether a badger or a baboon would win in a fight.

• Gladiators were mostly vegetarian

• Watching action films makes you eat more.

• It's possible to charge a Nokia Lumia 930 using 800 apples and potatoes connected with copper wire and nails

• Over 88% of individual winners at the Darwin Awards are men

• In China, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are known as Curly Fu and Peanut

100 things we didn't know last year (BBC) 


  1. Impressive compilation of facts that act like drops of water slowly eroding away the rock of our complacency!

    On another note, I prefer your new blog description to you old one. Of course, all you had to do was replace book with blog from the original quote, but it's just as apt here as "Chad Mulligan's" introduction to his book within a book in "Stand on Zanzibar." Speaking of which, you haven't signed your posts as "Chad" since very early in the blog's history. Gave up on that conceit?

    1. It makes logical sense to use the actual description of a hipcrime from the book. I've been meaning to do that for a while.

      I was unaware I ever signed my name to posts. BTW, my name really is Chad, which is another reason I chose this particular title for the blog. It is not, however, Chad C. Mulligan. I actually considered using that as an alias, but I didn't want to be tied to it so I used one closer to my real name.

  2. Great list in the spirit of the text breaks from the book.

    Back in the '70s, I used to keep a card file (3x5 cards - remember those?) labeled "Sheep". Every time an environmental or social disaster occurred, I would cut it out of the paper (as in physical, newsprint paper) and put it in the card file. I found it the other day when sorting some of my stuff, still mostly in banker boxes, in my new mountain homestead. Amazing that such news stories were so sparse back then, and are a continuous flow today.
    My reference, of course, was to "The Sheep Look Up". You chose a different novel and a different medium, but as soon as I saw the title I knew it would be a must-read.


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