Life Expectancy Increases With Education

"Life expectancy in the United States is on the increase, but only among people with more than 12 years of education, a new study finds," according to a recent HealthDay News article. "In fact, those with more than 12 years of education--more than a high school diploma--can expect to live to 82; for those with 12 or fewer years of education, life expectancy is 75."

The study was published in the most recent issue of Health Affairs.

In my previous posts this week, I have mentioned how life expectancy increases with wealth and how the current generation of senior citizens has more money and education than the generations that preceded them. The combination of education and wealth is obviously a key to the long lives that today's seniors can expect.

Tobacco use plays a large role in the disparity between life expectancy for those with more than a high school education and those whose educations ended with their high school diplomas, the study found. "About one-fifth of the difference in mortality between well-educated and less-educated groups can be accounted for by smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema," according to the HealthDay News article.

"When the researchers compared data from the 1980s to data from the 1990s, people with more education had almost a year and half of increased life expectancy. But, for people with less education, life expectancy increased by only six months," according to the article. "In the period of 1990 to 2000, the better educated saw their life expectancy increase by 1.6 years. For the less educated, life expectancy didn't increase in all."

Between women with education beyond high school and those without, there is an even bigger life expectancy gap.

"Less-educated women actually had a decline in life expectancy. In 2000, those women with more than 12 years of education by age 25 could expect to live five years longer than less-educated women," according to the article.

"Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, thinks fighting poverty and improving education are key to increasing life expectancy among less-advantaged Americans," according to the article.

Perhaps with increased education, poorer Americans could put themselves on the path to higher-paying jobs. Increased education and increased wealth would likely make better health care more accessible to them and extend their life expectancies.

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America's Senior Citizens Wealthier Than Previous Generations Of Seniors

In my earlier post, I wrote about the phenomenon of middle-aged adults moving home with their parents, most of whom are at or near retirement age. While this is not a practical solution for all families, in many cases, it's doable. Perhaps playing role is that U.S. government researchers released a report yesterday which found that, "older Americans have more money and are expected to live far longer than prior generations," according to Reuters.

Data from 15 federal agencies on population trends, economics and health issues were combined to create a report called Older Americans 2008.

"The average net worth of older Americans—those 65 or older—has increased almost 80 percent over the past 20 years," according to Reuters. "And those who reach the age of 65 are now expected to live an average of 19 more years, or seven years longer than people who had reached age 65 in the year 1900."

Medical advances are largely to thank for this increase in life expectancy. And the increasing wealth of senior citizens makes quality health care more accessible to them.

One final finding of the report? "Older adults in the United States are far better educated than prior generations. In 2007, 76 percent of those over 65 had high school diplomas, and at least 19 percent had a bachelor’s degree, up from 24 percent with high school diplomas in 1965 and just 5 percent with bachelor’s degrees."

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Adults Moving Back Home With Their Parents

In what has become a fairly common practice, many college graduates move back in with their parents temporarily after graduation. I did this (thanks, Mom and Dad!); so did most of my friends. Living at home for a time generally allows new college grads to find a job and save up some money before heading out to live on their own.

"But now the slumping economy and the credit crunch are forcing some children to do so later in life—even in middle age," according to a recent Associated Press article.

The slumping economy, dwindling jobs and rising costs for housing, food, gas and medical care are all combining to make it harder for many people to make ends meet. So even some adults are moving back home with their parents to decrease the strain on their finances.

"Kim Foss Erickson, a financial planner in Roseville, Calif., north of Sacramento, said she has never seen older children, even those in their 50s, depending so much on their parents as in the last six months," according to the AP.

Parents, still being parents, are used to taking care of their children. "Parents feel guilty if they don’t offer help, but [Erickson] warns them to be careful with their savings," according to the AP. "Some of Erickson’s clients are giving as much as $50,000 at a time to their kids, many of whom have overextended themselves with big houses or lavish lifestyles," according to the AP.

But the parents of middle-aged adults are typically retired, semi-retired or nearing retirement and have to think about major expenses such as extensive medical care.

"Plenty of well-meaning parents must delay retirement or scale back their dreams because they have to help their children," Karen Maloney Stifler, a financial planner in Hudson, Ohio, said, according to the AP.

Adults who are considering moving back home with their parents for financial reasons should make sure that such a move makes sense for their parents, too.

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Texas Now Home For One In Six Americans Who Moved Out Of State Between July 2006 And July 2007

"All my exes live in Texas, and Texas is a place I'd dearly love to be," goes the chorus of an old George Strait song. Well, based on numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau, a lot of people now have exes who live in Texas.

Between July 2006 and July 2007, about one in six Americans who moved out of state moved to Texas.

"16 percent of Americans who moved to other states between July 2006 and July 2007 came to Texas, which led the nation for the second straight year in that category," according to the AP.

"Four Texas metropolitan areas were among the biggest population gainers as Americans continued their trend of moving to the Sun Belt in 2006 and 2007," according to the Associated Press.

Dallas-Fort Worth saw 162,000 new residents come to the area in that time period--more than any other metropolitan area. Houston, Austin and San Antonio were also among the top 10 metropolitan areas in terms of population gain. Houston was fourth, Austin was eighth and San Antonio was tenth.

Atlanta, Phoenix, Riverside, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., Chicago and Las Vegas comprised the rest of the top 10.

"Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 27 were in the South and 20 were in the West. Two were in the Midwest, one—Fayetteville, Ark.—straddles the South and Midwest and none was in the Northeast," according to the AP.

For more information on the migration to the Sun Belt, see our article Sun Belt Luring Young Workers.

All of the people moving to these areas had to move from somewhere, and many locations across the U.S. saw their populations decline. "Detroit lost more than three times as many people as any other metro area — its population declined more than 27,300. Other areas losing more than 5,000 people were Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Ga., Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y.," according to the AP.

Detroit, Buffalo and Pittsburgh all made NuWire's list of the Top 5 Declining U.S. Markets.

For more information on population shifts in the U.S., see NuWire's Population Growth Table From 2000-2006.

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Slowing Economy Could Impact Summer Jobs

When I was a student, I spent four summers working at a small Greek restaurant in my hometown (Kafe Neo in Edmonds, for those of you in the Seattle area. Try the Grecian Special gyro--pronounced "YEAR-oh"--and definitely get a side of skordalia and pita!). The money wasn't great, but it was something; I got delicious free Greek food while I worked, and whenever I went in while I wasn't working; I liked my coworkers; it wasn't too stressful. In short, it was a typical summer job.

Unfortunately for today's high school and college students--prime candidates for seasonal work--summer jobs are likely to be hard to come by this year.

"Oil prices skyrocketing. Home sales plummeting. Retail sales falling. Because of all these factors, there is likely to be a dearth of 'help wanted' signs up this summer. And many teens may be extra motivated to want work as parents, seeing discretionary dollars dwindle, start asking kids to pick up more of the tab," according to a recent MSNBC article.

Two recent studies show that the summer job market is going to be a competitive one.

"Nearly half of hiring managers say they have no plans to hire any seasonal workers this year, according to a study of 1,100 companies released today by, a job site for hourly positions. When asked why they wouldn’t be hiring, 31 percent of those polled said they didn’t have the budget," according to the article.

Further, "a report put out this month by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University states that 'the summer 2008 job outlook for teens looks particularly bleak,'" according to the article.

Part of the squeeze will come from "the growing number of older workers going after traditional teen jobs in retail and food services, and also the increase in illegal and legal immigrants vying for those jobs," according to the article.

With the economy in a slowdown or a recession--depending on your point of view--more people are looking for work and there are fewer jobs to go around. I know one woman, well established in her job, who recently got a second job working weekends at Starbucks to help cover her rising gas and food costs.

Teenagers and adults alike who are looking for part-time, seasonal work should start looking soon. According to the study, 76 percent of companies that will be hiring summer and seasonal workers expect to fill those positions by May.

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Life Expectancy Increases With Wealth

While life expectancy has increased for the U.S. as a whole, wealthy people have seen the greatest gains in life expectancy, recent government research has shown.

The gap in life expectancy between richer and poorer Americans "mirrored trends in infant mortality and in death from heart disease and certain cancers," according to the New York Times.

Gopal Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services, was one of the researchers involved in the study. Federal officials found "'widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy' at birth and at every age level," Singh said, according to the New York Times.

People in the most affluent group of Americans could expect to live 75.8 years and people in the poorest group could expect to live 73 years in 1980 to 1982, according to Singh. That's a difference of 2.8 years. "By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said" according to the New York Times.

Also of note is that the "life expectancy was higher for the most affluent in 1980 than for the most deprived group in 2000," Singh said, according to the New York Times.

With the rising costs of health care, it's not too surprising that those who can afford it are living longer than those who can't.

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European Union Blue Card Program To Entice Foreign Workers

An aging workforce is not a problem that the U.S. is alone in facing. Neither is a problem in attracting the best and the brightest. The European Union, too, is struggling with both of these situations.

"Over the last eight years, more than 10 million foreigners have immigrated to the European Union, plugging the gaps at the cheaper end of the labor market that an aging native population can no longer fill," according to a recent MSNBC article.

"By midcentury a third of all Europeans will be retired, and demographers predict the EU will need another 20 million workers to fill that gap by 2030. But in the contest to attract the best brains, Europe is falling far behind."

According to the article, just 1.7 percent of the working population of 290 is made up of "highly qualified" foreign workers. The U.S. has twice as many such workers, and Australia has 8 percent more.

The EU has recognized the impending crisis and is scrambling to find a solution.

"In an effort to attract big brains from abroad, the European Commission wants to create an express line for the EU labor market." The plan would make available a renewable permit, called a blue card and inspired by the U.S. green card, which "would allow highly skilled workers and their families to move easily between member states and jobs."

The blue card is almost necessary, because each of the EU's member states has a different set of immigration rules. And, with many EU member states facing high unemployment rates and/or social unrest caused in part by immigration, many balked at the idea of encouraging the immigration of additional foreign workers.

"Cardholders and their families will still be able to move from country to country without returning home first, but EU member states will be able to impose their own quotas on migration, and cardholders will need to prove they have a job awaiting them before settling in another state."

There is obviously much fine-tuning to be done, and hopefully as the details of the blue card program are addressed, so too will be the underlying resentment toward immigrants common in many locations across the EU. For more information on immigration in the EU, see my previous post: Ireland Shaped By Growing Immigrant Population.

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Ireland Shaped By Growing Immigrant Population

"Immigration — whether by Celts, Normans, Britons or Vikings — is not a new phenomenon for Ireland," according to an article published today on MSNBC. "In fact, the figure who arguably had the greatest single impact on the course of Irish history was a bearded, snake-charming holy man who hailed from Roman-ruled Britain.

"His name was St. Patrick."

Immigration has vastly changed the landscape of a nation once seen primarily as a nation of emigrants, not immigrants, despite the forays of Celts, Normans, Britons and Vikings into Ireland.

"In the 1980s, Ireland was barely able to retain its own. The unemployment rate was around 18 percent and thousands of young people were fleeing the country annually for Britain, the United States and elsewhere," according to the article. "The endless conflict in Northern Ireland along with divisive battles over social issues in the south combined to scare off the best and brightest."

But recently, the tide has been turning.

"This transformation — fueled by a decade-long economic boom and relatively liberal immigration laws — means Ireland has gone from Western Europe’s poorest and most homogeneous country to one of its wealthiest and most cosmopolitan in little more than a generation," according to the article. Now one in 10 people in Ireland are foreign-born.

Portlaoise, a commuter town of 14,000 people southwest of Dublin, is overseen by a Nigerian-born mayor, Rotimi Adebari. In Gort, a town of 2,500 in western Ireland, half of the population is made up of immigrants, including 900 Brazilians.

Immigration has propelled Ireland's population to 4.2 million people, its highest level since 1861, and helped make it the fastest-growing country in Europe, according to the article.

"The Irish economy now depends on migrant workers — whether Asian medical personnel, Eastern European service staff or Polish construction workers," according to the article. "Between 1995-2000, the economy expanded at an astounding average of 9.5 percent per year; now it has eased to a still robust rate of 4-5 percent annual growth."

"Estimates for the number of Eastern Europeans — mostly Poles — living in Ireland range from 150,000 to 300,000. Since the mid-1990s Ireland also accepted an estimated 30,000 asylum seekers, especially from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country," according to the article.

"Compared to the United States, the influx may not appear significant. Ireland remains nearly 95 percent white. But in a country that had virtually no people of color just a couple of decades ago, the change on the ground is unmistakable."

For example, Dublin is trending toward multiculturalism.

"Parts of north Dublin, chiefly Parnell Street and nearby Capel Street, are developing into the country’s first Chinatown….On the south side of Dublin's River Liffey, the influx of young people from across Europe has helped the emerging arts and cafe culture in the trendy, cobble-stoned Temple Bar district rival its better known continental counterparts."

Still, the transition hasn't been an easy one across the board, and there are incidents of discrimination against immigrants. One of the more egregious examples is that, "In Balbriggan, a Dublin suburb, children of African immigrants found themselves attending an all-black school this fall because the country’s overcrowded education system could not find a place for them in any existing schools. The incident was blamed on a paperwork snafu, but suspicions of racism lingered."

I find it hard to believe that this really was the result of a problem with paperwork. But this situation clearly shows that Ireland is still experiencing growing pains. While it's doubtful that "melting pot" is ever going to be the number one term people use to describe Ireland, hopefully the lesson of acceptance will take root.

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Cambodia: Real Estate Boom Widens Growing Gap Between Rich And Poor

Foreign investment in Cambodia has caused an upsurge in construction that is furthering the gap between the rich and the poor in the country.

"Cambodia is experiencing a construction boom fueled by foreign investment, particularly by South Koreans, and buying and selling among the country's few nouveaux riche -- while leaving the poor majority behind," according to a recent article in the Taipei Times.

"The biggest projects are being funded by South Korean investors and companies, which have been the leading investors in Cambodia following the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1997. Investment and tourists from South Korea have surged following a 2006 visit to Cambodia by former [South Korean] president Roh Moo-hyun," according to the article.

The disparity between the rich and the poor in Cambodia is so great that about 10 percent of the population owns nearly 90 percent of the land in Cambodia, Naly Pilorge, director of the nonprofit human rights group Licadho, said in the article. Such a situation could result in social and political unrest.

Hospitals have been torn down and replaced with condominiums and residents in run-down areas have been displaced.

"Prime city land prices have tripled over the last two years to US$3,000 per square meter. Those kinds of returns have drawn rich and middle-class Cambodians, as well as those living abroad," according to the article. And while real estate prices in Cambodia have risen dramatically in the last few years, they are still lower than real estate prices in Vietnam and Thailand.

Construction begins in Phnom Penh next month on Cambodia's first luxury residential building, a 42-story tower that will have 500 apartment units, each priced between US$112,000 and $1.8 million, according to the article. Half of the units have already been purchased. The tower will be the tallest building in Cambodia.

"Thrilled with the boom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has said it has been made possible by the political stability he has brought. In a recent speech he warned that if he is not re-elected in July elections, property prices could nosedive," the article said.

In addition to the political ramifications of the construction boom--many developers have connections with Cambodian government officials, and some suspect that much of the cash going into the real estate boom is the result of money laundering--there are ramifications for the nation's impoverished citizens.

"Poor residents like Chhorn Et, the former slum dweller who was moved outside the capital, are left to cope with a stark reality in their new village, which has no running water or sewage system," according to the article. "Although each family has been given a small piece of land, they complain of the lack of means to support their livelihoods. They have to travel daily to the capital to do odd jobs as motorbike taxi drivers, construction workers or scavenge for bottles and cans to sell to buy food. Many of them are too poor to afford a latrine and have to use a nearby rice field as a toilet."

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Small Business Ownership And Black Women

In my previous post, I mentioned the hardships that many black women suffer because of the high rate at which they are given subprime loans, which lead them to be among the minorities who suffer foreclosures at higher rates. I cited some essays published in the 2008 edition of The State Of Black America, an annual report published by the National Urban League (NUL) since 1976.

The report also focused on black women in small business, the sectors in which most small businesses owned by black women are concentrated, the amount of revenue these businesses generate and how they might generate more.

"Businesses owned by black females employed more than 23 percent of workers at black-owned businesses," Lucy J. Reuben, a visiting professor at Duke University, wrote in an essay published in The State Of Black America. "More than 45 percent of BWBEs [black women-owned enterprises] concentrate in health/social services and retail trade industries. The health/social services sector alone accounts for more than 30 percent and the retail trade sector accounts for nearly 10 percent of BWBEs."

"Although BWBEs are concentrated in sectors generating low revenues, they paid
their employees more than $3.9 billion, which is an amount that could provide the
median U.S. household income for more than 75 thousand families. At the lower level of
median black household income, BWBEs provide payroll dollars that would be adequate
to support more than 110 thousand families," Reuben wrote. "As such, businesses owned by black females provide a source of revenue for household stability as well as increases in the tax bases of numerous states and municipalities."

Reuben also noted that businesses owned by black women employ one worker for every $74,000 of revenue the business generates. In contrast, all black-owned businesses employ one worker for every $87,000 of revenue and all female-owned businesses employ one worker for every $109,000 of revenue.

So, since businesses owned by black women employ more workers with less revenue, how do businesses owned by black women start generating more revenue, leading to more jobs and boosts to the economies of their communities?

"Recommendations for building upon the strength and success of BWBEs include
increasing the share of black women-owned business in higher skilled, higher
technology sub-segments of industries in order to increase revenue streams and profit
margins and increasing microfinancing opportunities for small start-up businesses," Reuben wrote.

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Subprime Loans And Black Women

I posted last week about the correlation between foreclosures and minorities. The National Urban League (NUL) released a report yesterday that provided additional numbers to back this pattern up, tracing the correlation back to subprime loans.

"With 45.8 percent of African-American households headed by women vs. 13.6 percent of white households, black women are particularly hard hit when considering issues such as subprime lending," according to a NUL press release about the report, called The State of Black America.

The State of Black America, published annually since 1976 by the National Urban League, covers issues critical to black America. Last year's report focused on black men and the current report focuses on black women. The report covers a wide variety of issues, but I am going to focus on one issue first: homeownership.

"Homeownership is a cornerstone of the American dream, and home equity an important path to prosperity as a foundation for acquiring other assets like a college education, a small business and a secure retirement. Fixing the subprime market is important, but homeownership can still remain within the reach of the less affluent if the focus is shifted toward encouraging a higher savings rate," Lisa Mensah, executive director of the Initiative on Financial Security, wrote in an essay published in the report.

Americans across the board are dismal savers (for more information, see our previous article on Americans' Negative Savings Rate). Mensah proposed a down payment savings account, called a Home Account, with a 50 percent government match on their savings--up to $5,000--that could only be used by first-time, low- and moderate-income homebuyers. In theory, this would decrease the dependency of such homebuyers on subprime loans and allow more of them to purchase homes they could actually afford. The ability to afford a home could boost the economic standing of black Americans.

"Nearly two-thirds of the wealth possessed by African-American families is in the form of home equity. Without homeownership, most of these households own very little and have few opportunities to build economic security," Andrea Harris, president of the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development, wrote in an essay published in the report. "Half of all African-American households with children are headed by women; therefore, homeownership is an important economic advantage for these families."

These women face serious economic disadvantages, though. "Subprime loans have gone disproportionately to women, and...African-American and Latina women have the highest rates of subprime lending when compared to all other Americans, especially white men who receive the lowest share of subprime loans," Harris wrote.

"Over half of all loans made to black borrowers in 2005 and 2006 were subprime…African-American women account for 48.8 percent of all African-American subprime borrowers in 2006," she wrote. "The subprime mortgage crisis will drain $213 billion in wealth [from] black Americans, producing for African Americans the greatest wealth loss in modern U.S. history."

Not all the news in the report was so dire, though; check back later for my post on small business ownership among black women.

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