Saturday, May 14, 2005

New York Times interactive class graphics

The New York Times has some really interesting interactive graphics on class in America. The income mobility section really suprised me-- I didn't expect there to be that much change in just ten years, particularly for those that started in the top fifth.


Blogger Eric said...

I was also pleasantly suprised by the ammount of mobility and, I'm embarassed to admit, also by the ammount of downward mobility of the top quintile.

I was also quite suprised to see that the jobs ranked highest for "prestige" are physican, laywer, database administrator, computer system administrator, and astronomer/physicist. I would have guessed the first two, but not the others, and especially not the astronomer/physicist bit. From my interactions with "normal" people, I would have guessed that many considered us strange, or even crazy. Or maybe that's just me.

I hope future collumns will do more to quantify how much the pie has gotten bigger, and to what extent this is able to compensate for the growing disparities in income. This article mentioned that even the lowest quintile had their incomes grow 9% more than inflation over the past 22 years, versus 17% for the middle quintile. But dollars, even inflation adjusted, aren't always a great indicator of standard of living. Maybe things like the fraction of people owning homes, owning cars, attending college, taking out-of-town vacations, frequency of eating out, having one parent not need to work, etc.. would be easier for people to appreciate the significance of.

5/15/2005 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Qian said...

Very interesting little app. But I question how they came up with the "prestige" rankings for the various occupations. The computer/math field seems particularly out of wack. For example, mathematicians and operations research analysts rank lower than computer support specialists? Computer scientists and systems analysts rank below sys admins? And actuaries rank dead last? Did they do this in a mall survey or what? It sounds like people just went by words they recognize such as "administrator" or "specialist", without any real idea of the jobs and how they are seen by those who actually know what they are. Wonder if "waste disposal engineers" ranked higher than your mere garbagemen. Other fields seem similarly random with bartenders (who often own the bars they tend) ranking well below waiters and waitresses. And chief executives (yeah, CEOs) ranking in the 69th percentile. Now I see why Bill Gates gave up that deadend CEO job to become chief software architect. Although according to the Times he would have been better off doing tech support (a staggering 37 places higher than CEO. Yes, It's All About the Pentiums strikes again!). Kinda makes me wonder about the rest of their "research".

5/15/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Qian said...

Upon further inspection, I see that they credit income, education and occupation data from an analysis of 2000 and 2003 microsample data from the Census Bureau done by Andrew Beveridge and Susan Weber of Queens College sociology department. I don't see how they could have come up with such outlandish "prestige" rankings. Did people with only high school diplomas working at MacD's routinely give themselves grand titles as a joke and therefore skewed the results? But then why the huge gap between mathematicians and physicists? Just because there's no Nobel Prize for mathematics?! It boggles the mind, I tell you.

5/15/2005 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger finou said...

I was also surprised by the rankings of prestige of occupation. They didin't seem to make too much sense to me. Judge is lower than a lawyer? that's just silly.

5/16/2005 02:14:00 PM  

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