Sunday, January 8

Numbers are hard

Americans Stumble on Math of Big Issues
Many Americans have strong opinions about policy issues shaping the presidential campaign, from immigration to Social Security. But their grasp of numbers that underlie those issues can be tenuous.
Here are some figures that I found:
  • percentage of fellow residents who are foreign-born: 12.4% (37,049,464)
  • percentage who are in the country illegally: 4% to 7% (interesting that most sources give sources as "millions" rather than percentages; could that be because that "millions" sounds like more?)
  • percentage of federal spending on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: 0.01% ($430 million)
  • percentage of U.S. families on welfare: 1.425% (4.4 million)
But I have to give up, as there's no explanation of the "welfare" figure. Apparently this doesn't include federal means-tested welfare programs (over 180!), like Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Food Stamps, other food programs for children or the elderly, federal housing assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), just to name a few!

The U.S. Foreign-Born Population is 39,929,000, or 12.9%. Shall we say 13%?

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