July 22, 2010

Parenting alone: the googlefight

From the realm of hard to interpret statistics based on easy to get data with unknowable biases:

From Google searching, with English language set:

"single mother"
"single father"
"single parent"


"single mother"
"single father"
"single parent"

Major news stories have been based on less than this. Easily accessible and reliable data is great, but when it's not, the easy should not replace the reliable. Check your data before taking it seriously.

The serious data, for the US, from the US Census Bureau (Jan, 2010 press release):

In 2009, 12 percent of the 1.7 million father-only family groups with children under 18 were maintained by an unemployed father, compared with 7 percent in 2007. Of the 9.9 million mother-only family groups, 10 percent were unemployed in 2009 compared with 6 percent in 2007.

Or reformatted, the 2009 Census data:

"single mother"
"single father"
single parents

And a lot of unemployment.

PS: The pattern in the unemployment numbers is recurring for US data. Women have greater unemployment than men when unemployment is low, and men have greater unemployment than women in times of high unemployment. All kinds of odd questions are suggested by this: Do women have more stable jobs? Is gender-correlated pay inequality causally related to apparent gender-correlated job security? And if so, which way? Would low pay cause secure work, or secure work cause low pay?

PPS: There's not any immediately obvious link on Googlefight to find out how they get with their numbers. Anyone know why it's so different from what I see "fresh from Google"?

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