Who Lived in Your House in 1940?

Here’s a splendid diversion if you’re a data nerd, a history buff, or even just like good detective work: Tell the story of the family that lived in your house in 1940. 

A bit more background.  If you are in the United States, you probably remember participating in the Decennial Census in 2010.  These forms are kept confidential for 72 years—roughly an average American’s life span.  But this same rule means that today (actually, a couple of days ago), the 1940 Census results became public information.  The good folks at the National Archives have scanned all of these census forms, and put them all online. With a bit of work, you should be able to find your house—or if you are in a newer neighborhood, perhaps a neighboring house.

Census Bureau Cuts Number of Same-Sex Married Couples in Half

This week the Census Bureau came out with revised statistics on the number of same-sex married couples. As of 2010, there were 131,729 same-sex married couples living in the U.S., and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households. These numbers are way below the previous estimates released last summer, which tabulated the number of same-sex married couples as 349,377, and same-sex unmarried partner households 552,620.

So, did 217,648 same-sex married couples simply vanish in the span of a couple months? No, the error seems to be due to a small number of people checking the wrong gender box on the door-to-door census form. Here's the explanation:

What's the Best Way to Measure Poverty: Income or Consumption?

Yesterday we learned that 15.1% of Americans were living in poverty in 2010, the highest level since 1993, and up nearly 1 percentage point from 2009, when it was 14.3%. That data is based on an income measurement which shows that in 2010, 46.2 million Americans were living below the poverty line, defined as $22,314 a year for a family of four.

But income is just one way to measure poverty, and a particularly tricky (and narrow) way at that - so says Notre Dame economist and National Poverty Center research affiliate, James Sullivan, who believes that to measure poverty strictly by income fails to accurately reflect people's true economic circumstances. Income alone ignores the effects of things like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing subsidies. From a Notre Dame press release on Sullivan's recent poverty research:

“Income received from food stamps, for example, grew by more than $14 billion in 2009. By excluding these benefits in measuring poverty, the Census figures fail to recognize that the food stamps program lifts many people out of actual poverty,” Sullivan says. “If these programs are cut back in the future, actual poverty will rise even more.”

One Thing You Still Can't Do Online

These days, you can do pretty much anything online, except for one: submit your U.S. census forms.

Census Fun for Everyone: Zipskinny

Have you all played around with Zipskinny? It’s a site that takes data from the 2000 census and lets you search by ZIP code to see demographic information in your area, and compare it to others: income levels, racial breakdown, unemployment, education level, marital status, etc. It’s pretty basic information, little more than a snapshot, […]