How does the U.S. compare to other developed countries on measures of social justice? According to the New York Times, not very well. The visual below compares countries’ poverty rates, poverty prevention measures, income inequality, spending on pre-primary education, and citizen health. The “overall” rating is on the far left and the U.S. ranks 27th out of 31.
Yesterday I posted about U.S. immigration trends, updated through 2010. Following up on that, Dolores R. found another immigration-related post by KPCC…this time, a look at the wait time to get a family-sponsored immigration visa. With the removal of strict, racialized quotas in 1965, the U.S. turned to a policy based on a set of priorities for deciding who would be granted a visa; among the various categories was a preference for those who had sponsoring relatives already living in the U.S., with different visas and priorities based on family relationship:
F1 = unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
F2A = spouses and children (under age 21) of permanent residents
F2B = unmarried adult children of permanent residents
F3 = married adult children of U.S. citizens
F4 = siblings of adult U.S. citizens
According to the U.S. State Department, the annual minimum family-reunification visa target is 226,000 (note that this excludes spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens, who are highest priority for immigration and are exempt from immigration caps). The Immigration and Naturalization Act requires that family-sponsorsed (as well as employer-sponsored) visas be granted in the order that eligible potential immigrants applied. Unsurprisingly, many years there are more eligible applicants than there are available visas, leading to a backlog of individuals who qualify to immigrate but are waiting for a visa to become available. In particular, China, Mexico, India, and the Philippines are “oversubscribed,” meaning there is a significant backlog.
How long? The table below shows the cut-0ff date for visa applicants in each category as of January 2012. That is, the dates given here are the date by which a person had to apply to finally have a visa available this month; the 2nd column shows for all areas excluding the four countries singled out because of their particularly long wait times:
The least oversubscribed visa category is the F2A, where those now receiving visas will have waited a bit under 3 years. But look at some of the other dates listed. For F1, F2B, and F3 visas from Mexico, the people now at the head of the line have been waiting nearly two decades, having applied in 1992 or early 1993. F4 applicants from the Philippines have been waiting almost a quarter century, since 1988.
This is part of the reason why undocumented immigration continues, and arguments about fairness and waiting their turn in line may not be particularly compelling to individuals who want to reunite with family members in the U.S. Waiting a year, or two, or five, may seem reasonable. If you learn there’s a 20-year wait, the cost/benefit analysis of whether to wait for the visa to come through or to find other means may shift significantly, regardless of how otherwise law-abiding a person might be.
Yesterday we posted about an effort to raise consciousness about racist costumes. Those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos are similarly frustrated about people who appropriate the traditions of the holiday, celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, California, and Arizona.
Not just another name for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos is a two day celebration honoring children and family members who have passed. Nuestra Hermana explains:
On these days, altars are made in honor of them. People build them on their loved ones graves, at home or anywhere they find rightful to honor their loved ones. They make ofrendas (offerings) to the dead of their favorite foods, toys (for children), pictures, pan de muertos, sugar skulls and many other things that help guide the spirits of the dead safely to the altars. Marigolds, known as the flowers of the dead, are usually prominent in the altars.
In Mexico, many people sleep overnight at the graves. Every ritual & altar is not the same everywhere. Many places have their own traditions and ways of honoring the dead. One thing is for sure, Dia De Los Muertos is not Halloween. It is a sacred time and holiday for Latin@s everywhere.
Hermana implores readers not to borrow imagery or traditions from Dia de los Muertos just for fun. To do so, she argues, is “disrespectful… [and] also a erasure of someone’s real life culture.”
“Day of the Dead” (and other offensive Mexican stereotype costumes) from Costume Craze:
Katrin brought our attention to a report from the Brookings Institution about the educational levels of immigrants to the U.S., based on data from the 2009 American Community Survey as well as Census data between 1900 and 2000. As a group, immigrants have significantly more education than common stereotypes might lead you to believe. In fact, there are now more immigrants with at least a 4-year college degree than with less than a high-school diploma (27.8%):
Overall, immigrants still have lower levels of education than native-born U.S. citizens. While the proportion with a college degree is comparable (32% of the native-born and 29.6% of immigrants have a 4-year degree or higher), the immigrant population is much more likely to have less than a high school diploma (27.8% vs. 7% for the native-born).
The proportion of immigrants falling into the high- or low-education categories varies significantly by destination city. The study authors calculated the ratio of high-skill to low-skill immigrants (where skill is defined as education level, as in the graph above) for the 100 largest metro areas. High-skill destinations have more than 125 college-educated immigrants per 100 immigrants with less than a high school diploma; low-skill cities have fewer than 75. A city was defined as “balanced” if there were between 75 and 125 high-skill immigrants per 100 low-skill immigrants.
A map of the ratios shows that of the 100 largest metro areas, those in the eastern half of the U.S. (especially the Northeast) attract more educated immigrants, while the Great Plains and West (especially California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) have lower-educated immigrant population. Balanced-skills cities are concentrated in the Midwest and Southeast:
Not surprisingly, cities with universities attract more highly-educated immigrants, while those with economies based on agriculture or food processing are more likely to be destination sites for immigrants with less education.
Here’s a video of one of the authors, Audrey Singer, discussing the study and its implications:
You can also see the detailed information about the 100 largest metro areas. In the areas studied here, immigrants with less than a high school diploma are disproportionately from Mexico (57.3%, but with wide geographic variation — Mexican immigrants make up only 6.2% of low-skill immigrants in Buffalo but 85.8% in Austin), lack English skills (only 16.4% are proficient), and are unlikely to be naturalized citizens (26.2%). Among immigrants with a college degree, 5.5% are Mexican, 71.5% are English-proficient, and 54% are naturalized citizens. The full report has a detailed discussion of the factors at play here–historical immigrant settlement patterns, changes in which cities are gateways for arriving immigrants, and so on. If you’re interested in immigration issues and how they impact economic development, it’s definitely worth a read.
The country reporting the fewest work hours was Belgium at just about 7 hours a day. The country reporting the most was Mexico; Mexicans reported working almost 10 hours per day. That’s enough hours to translate into 45.5 extra days a year that Mexicans work in excess of Belgians, and a month of extra work hours compared to the average country in this study (at 8 hours a day).
Does American prosperity translate into long retirements? Not compared to other developed countries in the world. Flowing Data borrowed OECD numbers on life expectancy and age of retirement to calculate the average number of years in retirement for men and women across many different countries. The portion of each bar with the line is the average number of years working, while the non-lined portion represents years in retirement.
Largely because of life expectancy, women enjoy more years than men in all states except Turkey, but the number of years varies quite tremendously, from an average of zero years for men in Mexico, to an average of 26 years for women in Austria and Italy. The United States is way down on this list, not doing so well relatively after all.
Deeb K. sent in a story from the New York Times about who does unpaid work — that is, the housework, carework, and volunteering that people do without financial compensation. Based on time-use surveys by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this chart shows how many more minutes per day women in various nations spend doing such activities compared to men:
Childcare stuck out as an area with a particularly large gap:
On child care in particular, mothers spend more than twice as much time per day as fathers do: 1 hour 40 minutes for mothers, on average, compared to 42 minutes for fathers…On average, working fathers spend only 10 minutes more per day on child care when they are not working, whereas working mothers spend nearly twice as much time (144 minutes vs. 74) when not working.
The full OECD report breaks down types of unpaid work (this is overall, including data for both men and women):
The study also found that non-working fathers spend less time on childcare than working mothers in almost every country in the study (p. 19). And mothers and fathers do different types of childcare, with dads doing more of what we might think of as the “fun stuff” (p. 20):
Source: Miranda, V. 2011. “Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work around the World.” OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 116. OECD Publishing.
Katrin sent us a link to a image at GOOD that illustrates the geopolitics of first-person shooter video games. The image was created by a group at Complex to illustrate the way that the changing actual political landscape can be seen in the nationality of villains in video games. Peter Rubin, of Complex, explains, “Gone are the days of all FPSes being either World War II or sci-fi; in the new milennium, developers are on the hunt for enemies that are speculative but still plausible.”
They looked at 20 FPS games from the past decade (unfortunately, they give no details about how those 20 games were chosen
The selected titles:
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001): Germany Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Desert Siege (2002): Ethiopia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (2003): Cuba Delta Force: Black Hawk Down (2003): Somalia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm (2004): Colombia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 (2004): North Korea Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising (2004): Indonesia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike (2005): Afghanistan Delta Force Xtreme (2005): Chad Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (2006): Mexico Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007): Russia/Afghanistan Army of Two (2008): Somalia/Afghanistan/China/Iraq Frontlines: Fuel of War (2008): Russia/China Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009): Russia/Afghanistan/Brazil Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (2009): China/Russia Singularity (2010): Russia MAG (2010): Russia/China/India Army of Two: The 40th Day (2010): China Homefront (2011): Korea (They don’t specify if it’s North or South Korea) Operation Flashpoint: Red River (2011): China
Anyway, it provides a nice little illustration of the way that global politics seeps into this element of pop culture, as well as a snapshot of nations currently perceived as rivals or even enemies of the U.S. — a mixture of old tensions (Russia, Germany), ongoing anxiety about China, and emerging focal points.