Random Stuff

Buy A House?

I created this graph on plot.ly while working on the second edition of my 2008 book Going Broke: Why Americans Can’t Hold on to Their Money. It shows that homeownership is now at an historic low, as is the rental vacancy rate. One effect of the Great Recession has been a wholesale move from owner-occupied homes to rentals. Homeownership in the U.S. has not been this low since the 1960s.
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Of course some people lost their homes to foreclosure and were forced to make the transition to rentals, but we are now nine years out from 2008. The foreclosure rate has dropped precipitously in recent years. It looks as thought the Great Recession has created a lasting reluctance to sign a mortgage.


Murder Weapon Trends

I was wondering about the methods used in homicides. I found these data for murder victims at infoplease, and plotted them using plot.ly. The numbers for murder exclude non-criminal homicides, such as accidents and legal interventions.
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The most striking—though not surprising—thing about this graph is the much higher rate of homicides that involve a firearm, and also the dramatic variation in gun homicides since the mid-1970s. Guns are quite lethal, of course, but they also appear to be sensitive to other factors. For example, during the crack epidemic years of 1984-1989, homicides more than doubled among young black men, which may be a partial explanation for the spike during those years shown here.

The only other weapon that shows any degree of variation is the decline in popularity of cutting/stabbing. Today this weapon is responsible for fewer than half the number homicides as in 1980.

(Posted March 14, 2016. Additional text added on March 27, 2016.)