Andrew Cherlin and his colleagues report that 64% of women and 63% of men have had at least one child out of wedlock. The dominance of non-marital births is true for everyone, except people with four-year college degrees.
Cherlin’s charts each present the same data – births by age and relationship status — for women who didn’t finish high school (figure one), high school grads (figure two), women with some college (and so on), and women with a bachelors (etc). There’s some differences between the first three graphs, but the big leap comes with the last.
Didn’t finish high school:
High school grads: Some college: College grads:
“There are two clear paths through adulthood,” Cherlin told The Altantic, “one for people who have a bachelor’s degree and one for people who don’t.”
The Russell Sage Foundation and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality have put together Recession Trends, an interactive website that lets you create graphs about issues related to the recession. It takes a couple of steps to get to the database (you have to agree to the terms before entering), but once you’re there, you can choose data about a variety of topics — crime, housing, immigration, income, political attitudes, family life, and a lot more. It’s a great way to quickly get an overview of many aspects of life in the U.S.
I looked at the ratio of median family income between African American and White families. Between the early 1970s and 2010, we’ve seen a consistent gap in earnings, with Black median household income hovering between about 52 and 60% that of Whites:
The graph of the mean net worth of the individuals on Forbes’s list of the 400 richest people in the U.S. shows that while they certainly saw their wealth take a tumble during the recession — it fell to a mere $3.3 billion or so — they’re recovering well:
Unsurprisingly, the number of job seekers per job opening went up sharply after 2007; it’s finally starting to drop off slightly, though we still have about 5 people looking for every 1 job that’s available:
You can add more than one dataset for many topics. Here’s the growth in the prison population since 1980, by gender:
There’s lots, lots more. Whatever topic you’re particularly interested in, there’s a good chance there’s something there that’ll grab your attention for a bit.
Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.
Sara sent in an example of a phenomenon that I always find somewhat funny: the socially constructed life trajectory.
Never fear! If you don’t know what to do next in life, the answer is out there. When I filled my taxes out with Turbo Tax, it happily pointed a strong finger towards marriage, buying a house, and having children. In that order of course. A slide show about birth control options laid out my best choice depending on what it told me I was to be doing in each decade of my life.
Sara’s example is on the Weight Watchers website. Under the phrase “Life Stages,” it nicely lays out a trajectory. First you go to college, then you get married, then you have a child, and then you are old. (At every stage of life, though, you’re too fat!)
Get in line, ladies! College, husband, babies, old person! Oh, and make sure you’re losing weight every step of the way.
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.