Saturday, July 11, 2009

Freedom From Worry About Health Coverage is a Blessing That Everyone Should Have

My wife is in the hospital. Everything will be OK. Gallstones are the culprit, with pain from the secondary consequences of those unhappy minerals.

We have health insurance, First World medicine, and a community that rose up to help. We have only had to deal with the actual medical problem.

Many other people have to worry about whether they can afford health care. This is just wrong.

Universal health coverage now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Post-Centre Religion

From the Centre College Alumni Survey.

Almost half of the alumni report that religion is very important in their lives, while a fifth take the opposite position.
46% Very important
21% Somewhat important
14% Slightly important
19% Not important

When asked which religion, they said:
52% Protestant
14% Roman Catholic
11% Christian, no denomination
<1% Jewish
2% Other religion
10% Spiritual, not religious
9% No religion

Those Protestants specifying a denomination (345 total) broke out this way:
25% Presbyterian
21% Methodist
20% Episcopalian
14% Baptist
8% Christian Church/Disciples of Christ
8% Evangelical or Pentecostal denomination
4% Lutheran

Thursday, July 09, 2009

How Many Books do Centre Alumni Have?

From the Centre College Alumni Survey.

I asked "About how many books are there in your house right now?"
5% Under 50
21% 50 - 200
35% 201 - 500
22% 501 - 1,000
10% 1,001 - 2,000
7% More than 2,000

It is hard to find a national average number of books per household. A health survey in New York among a cross-section of households - people who had a baby in the local hospital in a certain time period - found the top of the range of average number of books per household was 25.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

From the Centre College Alumni Survey.

When asked to list their most important source of news, the alumni said:

10% Local television
8% Network television
13% Cable television
19% Local newspaper
8% National newspaper
17% Radio
23% Websites
(Less that 1 percent said that they did not follow the news).

I am particularly impressed at how many list websites as their primary news source. This is surely a big change from even five years ago.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Following Sports as a Pious Ritual of Civic Loyalty

From the Centre College Alumni Survey

I asked if there were any sports teams (professional, college, or other) that the respondents followed closely. 60% of all respondents named at least one team.

The leader by far was University of Kentucky basketball. 34% said they followed some UK team - by far the largest first choice category. Another 11% followed University of Louisville teams. Besides UK and U of L (and the 2% of Centre Colonels die-hards), college teams drew another 18%. Altogether, college teams drew the first loyalty of 2/3rds of those who followed sports.

Professional football, the next largest category, drew only 15%, professional baseball 8%, and professional basketball barely registered at 1%.

As I noted yesterday, half the Centre alumni live in Kentucky and adjacent states. There are no major league teams in any sport in Kentucky, and the Cincinnati professional teams draw the first loyalty of only 5% of the alumni. I read this strong loyalty of Centre alumni to Kentucky college teams as a way of participating in the emotional bonds of the community. As the great sociologist Emile Durkheim noted, our fundamental ties to society are emotional before they are rational. In Kentucky, following UK or U of L teams, especially the mens' basketball teams, is a pious act of belonging in the civil religion.

"How 'bout them Cats (or Cards)?" is part of the litany of building up the community that most Centre Colonels are part of.

Low Dispersion of Alumni

This is another in a series of findings from the Centre College Alumni Survey.

About 40% of the alumni live in Kentucky. About 60% of current students come from Kentucky, and this has been true for some time.

I am glad that Centre College serves the commonwealth so well, both in educating its children and in providing educated citizens. I think, though, that our ambition to be a more national college would be enhanced if our alumni were spread around the country a bit more.

I can think of three good reasons the alumni stick so close to home. First, Kentucky is a nice place to live, and many have family there. This is especially helpful when they start families of their own.

Second, the Old Colonels network is famously helpful. It is densest, and can be most helpful, in Kentucky.

Third, about two thirds of the graduates get further education, and most of them do so from a small number of nearby universities. I believe this is the single biggest factor in why the alumni settle so close to the college (relatively speaking).

The lesson I take from this is that we should be more conscious of encouraging our graduates to go further afield - and to more nationally weighty universities - for their graduate work. This would naturally take some of them into broader networks of professional life.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Most Old People Find Their Lives Turned Out Better Than They Expected

The Pew Research Center has produced a fine study of aging. It has several fascinating comparisons of what young people think makes you old with what older people think makes you old.

The line that stood out to me, though, is the Gruntled Finding of the Week:

Nearly half (45%) of adults ages 75 and older say their life has turned out better than they expected, while just 5% say it has turned out worse

Among all older adults, happiness varies very little by age, gender or race.