August 2012 Reports

Career gender reversal
Data from Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2010-11 show that more young women (66 percent, up from 56 percent in 1997) than young men (59 percent) now believe having a high-paying career is one of the most important things in life. More women (36 percent) than men (28 percent) are receiving bachelor’s degrees, as well. This gap first appeared in the early 1990s, and has been widening ever since.

Creationist nation
Forty-six percent of Americans surveyed for a recent Gallup poll do not believe man evolved, but believe that God created mankind in its present form no more than 10,000 years ago (creationism). Fifty-eight percent of Republicans said they believed this, and 41 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents agreed. Fully 78 percent of Americans today believe that God has been involved in some way in man’s development --  virtually the same percentage that believed this 30 years ago.

Graduation rates climb
The nation’s public school graduation rate now stands at 73.4 percent, the highest it has been since the late 1970s. Education Week’s “Trailing Behind, Moving Forward” says that most of this improvement is due to a rapid rise in Latino (5.5 percent) and African-American (1.7 percent) graduation rates. Rates for white students have not changed significantly, while rates for Native American and Asian-American students have dropped slightly. The Latino graduation rate at 63 percent still lags significantly behind the U.S. average.

Kinship care
Stepping Up for Kids, a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says that kinship care --  placing children at risk with relatives or family friends --  is a common solution that works for kids. About 26 percent of the foster care population are in kinship care, and one in five black children will be in kinship care at some point during their childhood. The report points out that despite the fact that kinship care is so common, caregivers --  who are often single, underemployed, and living below the poverty line --  rarely access the financial assistance and social services available to assist them.

Teen birth rate matters
A paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, “Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States so High and Why Does It Matter?” says the teen birth rate in the U.S. reflects a decision made by girls at the bottom of the economic ladder not to invest in their economic futures but rather to “drop-out” of the economic mainstream in response to a real or perceived lack of economic opportunity. The authors say there can be no improvement in teen birth rates until we address the opportunity gap facing these young women.

Teens safer on the road
Results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance --  United States, 2011 show that the number of teens who never or rarely wear a seatbelt has declined from 26 percent (1991) to 8 percent (2011), but one in every three teens has texted or sent an e-mail while driving. Teen drunk driving has dropped almost 50 percent over the past 20 years --  from 40 percent in 1991 to 24 percent in 2011 --  but teens are now more likely to smoke marijuana (23 percent) than cigarettes (18 percent).

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.