Who are Our Nation’s Readers?

As I am rapidly approaching my graduation from Northeastern University, I realize that the continuation of my education will be entirely in my own hands. Reading, whether it be news articles, opinion pieces, or book, will be one way that I hope to do so.

Image from Pew Research Center
Image from Pew Research Center

Research from the Pew Research Center found, recently, that 26% of U.S. adults haven’t read a book in the last 12 months. Of course, we’re a busy nation and many adults in the U.S. work more than one job and simply don’t have time to sit down and read an entire book. The Pew Center went on to break down the demographics of those Americans who hadn’t read a book, either in its entirety or just a part, in 12 months and the results are not surprising.

It’s easy to see that demographic groups that are the most powerful in our society are those that were least likely to have not read a book in the last year (i.e. were likely to be among those who HAD read a book in the last year).

Relatively speaking, U.S. adults who were women, white, between the ages of 18 and 49, made more than $75K per year, were college educated, and lived in urban America were most likely to have read a book. Forty percent of Hispanics and adults with a high school degree or less hadn’t read a book in the last year and 33 percent of those with an income of less than $30K hadn’t either.

The amount of leisure time that adults from different demographics have is, clearly, an influencing factor here. Researcher Andrew Perrin also draws connections to another study from Pew which found that uneducated Americans are among the least likely to own a smartphone or tablet which could also contribute to these distinctions.

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Black Friday Numbers and Why They Don’t Matter

Every year, Black Friday provides news outlets with at least of a weekend worth of stories, most of which illustrate the worst of our capitalist society. Reading about the obscene amounts of money that Americans spend at the start of the holiday season serves as a welcome distraction from the articles about violence and rioting that occurs among shoppers. This year, some of the biggest news stories about Black Friday included the mess created by bargain-hunters in a Nike store, the FBI’s claim that there were a record-number of gun background checks processed, and that the numbers show that more shoppers were out spending less money than last year.

Image (CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Diario Critico Venezuela
Image (CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Diario Critico Venezuela

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The Many Ways to Talk About Income Inequality

At the beginning of November, I wrote about the wage gap that women experience compared with their male counterparts. Income inequality is much more than a gendered issue though. Income inequality exists among any number of groups within countries’ populations around the world as well as among the world’s population as a whole.

In 2011, Max Roser (@MaxCRoser) started Our World In Data, a web publication out of the University of Oxford where he is employed. The site covers the changing development of the world in various areas such as population, technology, war and peace, and education. Empirical data for each topic is represented with superb interactive data visualizations which are all considered “public goods” by the creators and are listed under a permissive creative commons license.

Roser recently published a piece on the site’s blog which gave a brief look at the shift in global inequality that occurred in the decade spanning from 2003 to 2013. In this blog post, he looks at the disposable annual income of world citizens against their position in the global distribution of incomes.

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3 Times The Numbers Showed Women Receive Different Treatment Than Men

This weekend, Amazon released a new television series called Good Girls Revolt, and I subsequently watched all 10 episodes (almost) in a row. The show focuses on the story lines of three leading ladies working for the fictitious News of the Week Magazine as they attempt to sue their employer for gender discrimination in 1969. Not only does the show tell a fascinating story, the story is based on the real experiences of writers like Nora Ephron and Lynn Povich at Newsweek Magazine.

As a period piece, the series does its best to dedicate itself to the issues of the time. Though it primarily aims to address the blatant sexism that these women faced in the workplace, it also addresses the many more injustices that plagued women during the period. Some of these include a woman’s birth control and access to abortion, sexual harassment, and being considered a second-class citizen behind her father or husband.

We’ve made a lot of progress since then, women can wear pants and sign the paperwork for our own homes and apartments. But, the question of women’s equality (maybe better, inequality) keeps being raised. One of the most searched terms on Google in this election cycle has been abortion, and in many places, women still don’t have adequate access to reproductive healthcare. While women have certainly become a vital part of the job market today, pay inequality is still a prominent issue.

As I watched the first season of Good Girls Revolt, I started to think about the similarities between the struggles that these women faced and the struggles that women continue to face close to two decades into the 21st century.

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Inside Every Barrel of Oil

One Barrel of Oil Equals…

Crude oil is trading at around $48 per barrel today. This is important because the price of crude oil determines how much we pay to fill the tank of our cars, heat our houses, and it can have a noticeable effect on the stock market and the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, “in 2015, the United States consumed a total of 7.08 billion barrels of petroleum products, an average of about 19.4 million barrels per day.”

The magnitude of a number as high as 19.4 million is difficult to comprehend, especially when we don’t even understand what each barrel can do. Let’s look at just 1 barrel. Below is a graphic from Visual Capitalist, that shows some of the different uses for crude oil and how much just one barrel can go.

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