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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Public's Priorities in Foreign Policy

[In] recent decades, promoting democracy in other nations has not been a top priority for the American public. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in early February found that just 20% of U.S. adults cited this as a top foreign policy objective, putting it at the bottom of the list of 20 topics polled.
How we did this
Protecting American jobs, reducing spread of disease, preventing terror attacks are top foreign policy priorities among U.S. adults; promoting democracy ranks lowest

Sunday, February 28, 2021

LGBT Identification

 Jeffrey M. Jones at Gallup:

Gallup's latest update on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identification finds 5.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBT. The current estimate is up from 4.5% in Gallup's previous update based on 2017 data.

Currently, 86.7% of Americans say they are heterosexual or straight, and 7.6% do not answer the question about their sexual orientation. Gallup's 2012-2017 data had roughly 5% "no opinion" responses.

The latest results are based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted throughout 2020 with Americans aged 18 and older. Gallup had previously reported annual updates from its 2012-2017 daily tracking survey data, but did not routinely measure LGBT identification in 2018 or 2019.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Vice President Harris and Demographic Trends

 Kim Parker and Amanda Barroso at Pew note that Vice President Kamala Harris embodies several demographic trends:

Harris has a multiracial background. Her mother was South Asian and her father is Black. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans who identify as two or more races are one of the fastest growing racial or ethnic groups in the country, along with Asians. Roughly 6.3 million American adults – 2.5% of the adult population – identified as being more than one race in 2019. The number has grown significantly since the census first allowed people to choose more than one racial category to describe themselves in 2000. Among adults who identify as more than one race, relatively few (2.1%) are Black and Asian.

Harris is the daughter of two immigrants, one from India and one from Jamaica. The share of immigrants from Asia living in the U.S. has been on the rise in recent decades, following the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. In 2018, Asians made up 28% of the U.S. foreign-born population, up from 4% in 1960. And starting as early as 2010, Asian immigrants outnumbered Hispanic immigrants among new arrivals.


Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is White, which makes them – as a couple – part of a growing group of intermarried couples. In 2019, 11% of all married U.S. adults had a spouse who was a different race or ethnicity from them, up from 3% in 1967. Among newlyweds in 2019, roughly one-in-five (19%) were intermarried.

When she married Emhoff – who is divorced and has two children from his previous marriage – Harris became part of a blended family. The American family has evolved considerably in recent decades, and today there is no typical “family.” In 1980, most children younger than 18 lived in a household with two married parents who were in their first marriage. By 2014, fewer than half of U.S. children lived in that type of household. Some 15% lived with parents in a remarriage, 7% lived with cohabiting parents and 26% lived with an unpartnered parent.

Harris does not have any biological children of her own. A look at U.S. women at the end of their childbearing years reveals that 15% were childless in 2014, while the majority (85%) had given birth to at least one child. The childlessness rate was down from 20% in 2005 but still higher than the rate prior to the 1990s.

Harris married when she was 49 years old, and while this is older than the median age at first marriage, it reflects a trend toward women and men waiting longer to get married. In 2020, the U.S. had its highest median age at first marriage on record – 28.1 for women and 30.5 for men. These numbers have crept up steadily over time. In 2000, the median age at first marriage was 25.1 for women and 26.8 for men. In 1980, the median ages were 22.0 for women and 24.7 for men.

Harris and Emhoff are among a growing share of married adults whose spouse does not share their religion. Harris is Christian and attends a Baptist church, and Emhoff is Jewish. While most married adults in the U.S. have a spouse who is the same religion as them, that has become less common in recent decades. Among adults who were married before 1960 (and are still married), only 19% have a spouse who does not share their religion. For those married in the 1980s and ’90s, 30% are in an interfaith marriage. The share has continued to rise: 39% of adults who were married between 2010 and 2014 have a spouse who identifies with a different religious group than their own.

Before becoming the first female vice president, Harris served as a U.S. senator. Elected in 2016, Harris joined 20 other women in the U.S. Senate in 2017. This marked a historic high for women; the number rose to 25 in 2019. Now, the Senate has 24 female members, including one Latina woman and two who are Asian-Pacific Islander. There are no Black women currently serving in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, women make up 27.3% of current members. This represents a historic high for that chamber.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

En Banc Partisanship

Neal Devins and Allison have an article titled “Weaponizing En Banc,” forthcoming in The New York University Law Review. The abstract:
The federal courts of appeals embrace the ideal that judges are committed to rule of law norms, collegiality, and judicial independence. Whatever else divides them, these judges generally agree that partisan identity has no place on the bench. Consequently, when a court of appeals sits “en banc,” (i.e. collectively) the party affiliations of the three-judge panel under review should not matter. Starting in the 1980s, however, partisan ideology has grown increasingly important in the selection of federal appellate judges. It thus stands to reason (and several high-profile modern examples illustrate) that today’s en banc review could be used as a weapon by whatever party has appointed the most judges on any particular circuit. A weaponized en banc reflects more than just ideological differences between judges. We define the phrase to capture a “team mentality” on the courts of appeals – an us versus them – where the judges vote in blocs aligned by the party of the President who appointed them and use en banc review to reverse panels composed of members from the other team.
In this article, we test whether en banc review is now or ever has been weaponized. We make use of an original data set – the most comprehensive one of which we are aware – that tracks en banc decisions over six decades. Our findings are surprising in two very different ways. The bulk of our data indicates that rule of law norms are deeply embedded. From the 1960s through 2017, en banc review seems to have developed some sort of immunity from partisan behavior over time, and we unpack potential reasons why. But that important and long-lasting immunity could now be in danger. Our data from 2018-2020 show a dramatic and statistically significant surge in behavior consistent with the weaponizing of en banc. It is too soon to tell whether this is a temporary change or an inflection point indicating a more permanent shift. We consider both possibilities and, in so doing, highlight the critical role that en banc review plays in ascertaining judicial commitment to rule of law norms. The time may soon be upon us to confront the cost of en banc review in a regime where party identity frequently trumps other judicial impulses.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Inflation Ahead?

Many posts have discussed the deficit and the debtPolicymakers and the general public have tended to ignore these problems in recent years, in part because of low inflation and interest rates.  But this settting could change.

 James Pethokoukis at The Week:

One plausible scenario for a big change in America's economic climate — as well as those in other rich economies — is laid out in the 2020 book The Great Demographic Reversal: Aging Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival. Economists Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan make the case that the current macroeconomic situation of persistently low interest rates and low inflation was created by a particular set of historical economic circumstances. Demographics and globalization are key here. The late 20th century saw a flood of workers into labor markets across the world thanks to the baby boomers, as well as the addition of workers from China and Eastern Europe once the Soviet Union dissolved. This labor-supply shock, according to Goodhart and Pradhan, had the tendency to push down inflation — particularly as seen in wage growth — and interest rates. And thus create a world where it's been easy for government and business to borrow.

But now those demographic and globalization shocks are reversing. Working-age populations are peaking or even shrinking around the world. And rising worker wages in China means sending jobs there isn't the bargain for Western companies that it used to be. As a result, Goodhart and Pradhan conclude, bargaining power will shift back to domestic workers and away from employers, pushing up wage inflation. And at the same time the number of old people, who consume rather than produce, will continue to increase. That means more demand for goods and services — and, again, more inflation. "The great demographic reversal and the retreat from globalization will bring back stronger inflationary pressures — this is our highest conviction view," Goodhart and Pradhan wrote in a 2020 essay.

So a world of higher inflation, higher interest rates, and greater fiscal challenges for Washington — a world few policymakers seem to be considering or even imagining as possible. Yet the pandemic and the tsunami of money being spent to fight it should encourage Washington to think harder about just such a possibility.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Half a Million Dead

Over the past year, many posts have discussed the coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Yesterday, the United States passed the threshold of 500,000 deaths:

 President Biden spoke to the occasion: