A nation of suburbs

Suburbs,_Virginia_(6045440309)Big cities seem to get most of the attention.  People debate their merits compared with small towns and the rural life.  Suburbs don’t get the same respect.

But according to a report from the Urban Land Institute, 79% of the American population live in suburbs.  That includes 85% of the nation’s children and 75% of Millennials.

Contrary to the stereotypes about “white flight,” suburbs are racially and ethnically diverse, with 76% of the minority population living in suburbs.  And suburbs are where most of the nation’s jobs, businesses, and economic vitality can be found.

After the jump, Richard Mize summarizes the report.

Why do you think so many people live in suburbia?  A lot of people criticize the suburbs.  Can you defend them?

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Clarifying the majority-minority America

We keep hearing that we will soon become a “majority-minority” country in which whites will no longer make up most of the population.  But that does not mean what most people think it means.  Historian and social scientist Philip Jenkins, who did much to popularize the fact, explains what this will actually look like.

From Philip Jenkins, White Christian Apocalypse? | The American Conservative:

After the recent election, I saw plenty of articles saying this was the last gasp of White America before whites lost their majority status, maybe sometime around 2040. Well, 2040 is a long way off, but let us look at the projections for what the U.S. population will look like in mid-century, say in 2050. The best estimate is that non-Latino whites will make up some 47 percent of that population, Latinos 29 percent, African-Americans 15 percent, and Asians 9 percent. Allow a couple of percentage points either way.

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Americans are still reading books

The death of the book has been greatly exaggerated.

A Pew study has found that Americans are reading books in large numbers.  Nearly three-fourths of Americans have read at least one book in the past year.  The average number of books read in that period is 12.

E-books are growing in popularity, but they still lag behind print books.  28% of the public have read an e-book over the last year, but only 6% read e-books exclusively. [Read more…]

New study on church-going has surprises

Pew Research has released a new study on church-going, including why people leave, how they choose a new congregation, and why people don’t attend.  Read the study here.

The reason lots of people have stopped going to church, it turns out, is not so much that they are rejecting religion in favor of scientific materialism.  Rather, the logistics of getting up on Sunday and organizing themselves and the family for a trip to church is just too difficult.

The main reason people choose a new congregation is not disagreement with the pastor of the old one (a reason given only by 11%), but because they have moved.  The factor that is most influential in choosing a new congregation?  The pastor’s sermons.

There are other surprises:  denominational loyalty is still an important factor; while many people attend church less, almost 25% of Americans are attending church more.

Take a look at the study and then read an analysis of the findings by Emma Green in the Atlantic, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Study challenges LGBT assumptions 

Public opinion, government policy, and Supreme Court rulings about LGBT issues has been predicated on the notion that same-sex attraction and having a gender identity different from one’s biological sex are innate, fixed conditions.  In the words of the Lady Gaga song, “I was born this way.”

But a Johns Hopkins study has found otherwise.
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Why the LA Times poll differs from the others

Most polls show Donald Trump losing big time, especially in the crucial battleground states.  But the L.A. Times poll shows Trump ahead of Clinton by two points, a fact heralded by the Trump campaign.  So why are that poll’s results so different?

Most polls ask people who they are going to vote for.  The L.A. Times poll, designed by USC social scientists, is not so straightforward.  It asks a pre-selected group, used for other research purposes, to rate on a scale from 0-100 their chances of voting for a particular candidate.  Then the results are weighted for demographics, which is usual, but then also weighted for how the respondents voted in the 2012 election.

The Times admits that the result is that Republicans are probably over-represented.  I would add that the 0-100 scale isn’t going to tell us much if respondents are ambivalent about both candidates.  But I think this is also an example of social scientists overthinking their task and trying to come up with a methodology that is so sophisticated that it is unlikely to work.  But maybe it will.  We’ll know in November. [Read more…]