Norton Sociology recently posted an image that illustrate differences in rates of imprisonment in a number of countries. Imprisonment rates are influenced by a number of factors — what is made illegal, how intense law enforcement efforts are, preference for prison time over other options, etc. The U.S. does not compare favorably, with 74.3 per 100,000 10,000 of our population behind bars (click here for a version you can zoom in on, and sorry for the earlier typo!):

Here’s a close-up of the breakdown of the U.S. prison population:

Via Urban Demographics.

UPDATE:  Since posting this, I’ve discovered that the numbers do not accurately reflect the ratio of CEO vs. worker pay.  Writes PolitiFact:

We don’t doubt the chart’s underlying point that the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay is high in the United States, and is likely higher in our free-wheeling economy than it is in the historically more egalitarian nations of Europe.

But in its claim that the U.S. ratio is 475 to 1, the chart conveys a sense of certitude and statistical precision that simply isn’t warranted — and which is contradicted by the facts. The latest number for the U.S. is 185 to 1 in one study and 325 to 1 in another [though in previous years, those ratios have reached as high as 525 to 1] — and those numbers were not generated by groups that might have an ideological interest in downplaying the gaps between rich and poor. We rate the claim on the U.S. ratio False.

I apologize for not vetting this more carefully.

H/T KeepYourHopesUpHigh via GlobalSociologyBlog.

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.

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.


Via Feministing.  See also how the U.S. ranks on measures of equality and prosperity(33 out of 33, for what it’s worth). Thanks to Dolores R. for the link!

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.

Cross-posted at Jezebel.

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:

Thanks to Dolores R. for the tip!

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.

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.

Dolores and Diego sent in a new study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  The study measured time use in 30 countries, demonstrating significant differences in the amount of work and leisure enjoyed, on average.

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).

The OECD has also reported gender gaps in leisure across countries (Norway had the smallest gap in that study; Italy the largest) and we’ve seen the gender leisure gap reflected in American advertising.

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.

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.

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.