A Guardian series examines Kern County, California, where police have killed more people per capita than anywhere else in the US this year
Why the rise of death rates among Caucasians is way more complex than the pundits would have you believe.
By now even casual observers of the news know that the rate of death among white, middle-aged Americans is rising – a trend that isn’t seen in similar countries. The news followed a widely circulated paper published online Nov. 2, and members of the media were quick to attribute the trend to several factors, from despair to a lack of social services to economic opportunity.
Pundits on both sides of the political aisle used the study to further their own narratives. From the left came the cry that this was a result of pro-business policies that have engendered a new era of income inequality. The right used the study to repeat the mantra that the decline of the prototypical, husband-wife, two-child family was to blame.
But it’s hardly that simple or singular. A closer look at the study and other surrounding data on mortality show that initial reports may have missed the mark on identifying which people are most affected by rising death rates, and that extenuating factors such as gender, educational attainment or geography may offer additional context to the headline-grabbing report.
Written by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the report found mortality rates for whites began rising in 1999 and continued to do so through 2013. The rise was driven by drug and alcohol overdoses, suicide, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
“A serious concern is that those currently in midlife will age into Medicare in worse health than the current elderly,” Case and Deaton wrote in the paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they’re shooting at is black?
A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.
“What we found is that it does,” Mekawi tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And … people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets.”
That is, shooters weren’t just faster to fire at black targets; they were also more likely to fire at a black target.
On the kinds of studies they were analyzing
Our inclusion criteria was pretty much that they used what’s called a first-person shooter task. … Participants are generally told that police officers are often put in high-stress situations where they have to make very quick shooting decisions.
And so they are presented with images of targets from various races that either have a gun or have some kind of neutral object. So, sometimes it’s a soda can; other times it’s a cellphone. And what they’re told is, to make the decision to shoot when they see a target with a gun.
This morning, Vox published a comic strip by Terry Blas that explains the different meanings of “Hispanic” and “Latino.” Some Latino writers took issue with the illustration, particularly with the claim that people from Spain are Hispanic.
I began responding to some of these concerns on Twitter. But I quickly realized that 140 characters is not enough to hash out some of these complex issues of identity, some of which I’ve dealt with in my own life.
This might seem like a semantic debate (and, technically, it is). But it also reflects a broader debate about how people identify themselves, and the complications that arise from trying to fit people from dozens of countries into one or two labels.
As someone who was born in Venezuela and whose dad is from Spain, I agree with the comic. I think Latino refers to anyone from Latin America, including Brazil (which primarily speaks Portuguese) and Caribbean countries (some of which primarily speak English, French, and Dutch, among other languages). And I think Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain. So I personally identify as 100 percent Hispanic and 50 percent Latino, since I’m half Venezuelan and half Spaniard.
The federal government, according to the Pew Research Center, also agrees with the comic: The official definition of Hispanic is “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.” (The government does, however, let people identify however they want in their census form, which lets the feds avoid the need to adjudicate some of these issues.)
But not everyone agrees. Some Latinos and Latinas think Latin American countries that don’t primarily speak Spanish — so a bunch of Caribbean countries and Brazil — aren’t Latino, even though they’re technically part of Latin America. Some Hispanic people think Spaniards shouldn’t be considered Hispanic, since they argue the term should refer only to countries that Spain colonized. Some people from both groups think it’s totally fine for anyone to identify as Hispanic or Latino as long as they have some Spanish or Latin American ancestry. Some people from Caribbean countries don’t relate to Latino or Hispanic at all. Others prefer choosing another term, such as Chicano.
And a lot of people just don’t care, as a Pew survey found:
These eight charts suggest there are racial disparities at every phase of the justice system.
In the year since Michael Brown was killed, Americans have focused their attention on the harsh treatment of black Americans at the hands of police. A shocking number have been killed in encounters with police, in the year since Ferguson and in the years before. Thousands more have suffered subtler forms of discrimination in the criminal justice system, where social science research shows striking racial disparities at nearly every level—from arrest rates, to bail amounts, to sentence lengths, to probation hearing outcomes. We combed a vast body of research to find the clearest indicators of racial disparities at different phases of the justice process. The eight charts below offer a grim portrait of what it’s like to be a black American in our nation’s justice system.
1. Black Americans are more likely to have their cars searched.
Police are three times as likely to search the cars of stopped black drivers than stopped white drivers, as the chart below, based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, illustrates. Nationally, black drivers are also more likely to be pulled over and less likely to receive a reason for being stopped. In one Rhode Island study, black drivers were stopped more even though they were less likely to receive a citation.
As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama vied for the Oval Office back in 2012, the U.S. teetered on the edge of another recession. And no one knew about it until now.
The Labor Department on Thursday released the country’s gross domestic product results for the second quarter. The economy expanded a modest 2.3 percent in April, May and June of 2015 after a meager 0.6 percent uptick in the first quarter. While the headline numbers fell short of analysts’ expectations, it was the revisions to previous years’ data that were arguably the most intriguing.
“The revisions show a recovery from the Great Recession that has been lackluster,” Gus Faucher, senior macroeconomist at PNC Financial Services Group, wrote in a research note Thursday. “This included a small downward revision to growth in 2012 (2.3 percent to 2.2 percent), a big downward revision to growth in 2013 (2.2 percent to 1.5 percent), and no revision to growth in 2014 (2.4 percent).”
The Bureau of Economic Analysis spent the last few months updating its seasonal adjustment methodology, allowing it to tweak GDP releases as far back as 2011. A series of weaker-than-expected first quarter GDP reports over the last several years led the bureau in May to start looking into potential flaws in its calculations.
Those revisions were published Thursday and likely weren’t what Americans wanted to see. For five consecutive quarters (or 15 months) in 2012 and 2013, the U.S. economy’s growth rate fell short of the country’s benchmark 2 percent. Over that five-quarter window beginning in April 2012, the economy averaged only 1.1 percent growth per quarter.
But in the third and fourth quarters of 2012, when America was in the throes of a political battle for the White House, the U.S. economy almost plunged off the deep end. The economy expanded only 0.5 percent in the third quarter and 0.1 percent in the fourth. Though the fourth quarter’s 0.1 percent growth was unrevised from previous reports, the third quarter’s GDP was originally thought to have clocked in at a much stronger 2.8 percent.
The world may be getting warmer, but it is not getting much wetter. It quaffed 249 billion litres of alcoholic drinks in 2014, a modest increase of 1 billion over the preceding year. When measured by intake per head of the drinking-age population, consumption is down a little from a peak of 56.6 litres in 2012 to 55.4 litres in 2014. People in rich countries are the ones imbibing less—a moderation that has not (yet) been matched by a corresponding binge in emerging markets. India, for instance, is the ninth-largest alcohol market, yet consumption per head is low. Small wonder that drinks companies see an enormous market waiting to be tapped.
Coates objects to the cliché that blacks have to be “twice as good.” It’s closer to the truth that they, like all Americans, are in a much better position to succeed if they honor certain basic norms: graduate from high school; get a full-time job; don’t have a child before age 21 and get married before childbearing. Among the people who do these things, according to the research of Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, about 75 percent attain the middle class, broadly defined.
Conservatives like Rick Santorum have taken to using this factoid as definitive proof that structural factors behind poverty don’t matter, that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and government action to help marginalized people is unnecessary. It does not prove that at all. If anything, it’s a useful reminder of the fact that poverty is mainly a problem of systemic failure, not personal failure.
The stat comes from a 2009 book by Haskins and Sawhill called Creating an Opportunity Society. Haskins and Sawhill analyzed income data from 2007 and broke down households based on whether the head of household followed three norms:
- They work full-time.
- They graduated high school.
- They waited until they were married and at least 21 to have a child.
They found that only 2 percent of persons in families that followed all three norms were poor, whereas 76 percent of persons in families that followed none were poor, and 73.8 percent of those who followed all three were at least middle-class:
In 47 out of 50 states, American police officers have killed at least one person so far this year. In some, the number of officer-involved homicides dwarfs .
The map below, based on statistics the research collaborative Mapping Police Violence provided to Mic, shows all 605 deaths from police violence in the United States from Jan. 1 through July 10. As is evident, there’s a clear correlation between population size and the number of slayings, but certain states still stand out with particularly large numbers.
Just three states (Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont) avoided any killings at all. Meanwhile, California reached a shocking 95 police killings, Texas clocked 64 and Florida was not far behind with 43. Arizona and Oklahoma are runners-up at 28 and 26, respectively.
Keep in mind the year is only halfway over. Even the 605 killings that Mapping Police Violence tracked through July 10 alone would make the U.S. an outlier among comparable democracies.
This doesn’t happen in other developed countries: Policing in the U.S. is controlled largely at the state and local levels, meaning that training, equipment and use-of-force standards vary wildly. But compared to many other countries, American police enjoy relatively lax guidelines on when and how they can use lethal force.
According to the Washington Post, in Britain, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway, most police tend not to carry firearms at all while on duty. German police are extensively trained to understand that drawing and firing their weapons is a very serious matter of last resort.