Skip to main content

Where professors still ask questions of students and other readers

Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera addresses a crowd in Dublin.  In 1937 he led the initiative to sever Ireland's ties with the British Commonwealth and become a sovereign state.
Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera addresses a crowd in Dublin. In 1937 he led the initiative to sever Ireland’s ties with the British Commonwealth and become a sovereign state. (Bettmann Archive)

So far, readers have submitted over 700 brilliant data questions for DoD review. We may never get to all of them, but that won’t stop us from trying. So let’s start with this week’s Data Dive, inspired by questions submitted by readers literally from coast to coast!

Where teachers still use paddles

You may want to look at corporal punishment of children in schools.

— Lucien Lombardo, New York

As a means of controlling classrooms or improving school performance, corporal punishment has an uninspiring track record. Last year, a review of 69 studies published in the medical journal The Lancet found that “corporal punishment is ineffective in achieving parents’ goal of improving child behavior and instead appears to have the opposite effect to increase undesirable behavior”.

The good news is that in most of the country, less than 0.01% of public school students were beaten, slapped or otherwise physically punished during the 2017-2018 school year, the most recent for which we have data from the US Department of Education.

The bad news is that 10 states, mostly in the South, don’t seem to have gotten the memo.

These 10 states accounted for 99% of incidents of corporal punishment reported to the Department of Education. About 75% occurred in just four Southern states: Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas.

Mississippi is the nation’s capital of corporal punishment, and it’s not particularly close. About 4.2% of students there have been physically punished, more than double the rate for Arkansas, which ranked second at 1.8%. That’s more than 20,000 Mississippi students paddled in the 2017-18 school year, or nearly one-third of all U.S. public school students who were physically punished that year.

In the 10 paddle states, Native American and black boys experience the highest rates of punishment (more than double the average), while white boys and disabled boys also face relatively high rates of corporal punishment. Girls are physically punished at much lower rates, with Native Americans, blacks, and girls with disabilities bearing the brunt of these punishments in these states.

Developmental psychologist from the University of Texas at Austin Elizabeth Gershoff, one of the authors of the Lancet study, said most research on corporal punishment focuses on parents rather than teachers and caregivers. other school officials. But her review of school-focused research around the world shows that such punishments worsen academic achievement and student behavior, she said.

“It’s also important to note that children also suffer from physical pain and injury,” Gershoff said in an email. “It’s not surprising given that children are hit with planks. If an adult were hit with such boards/paddles, it would be considered an assault and the board would be considered a weapon.

Where rich kids move as adults

Can you break down mobile trends by income levels and ethnic groups?

—Jeff Brown in Seattle

Excellent question, Mr. Brown! And by “awesome” I mean “we have the data to answer it!” »

A previous column looked at the top destinations for young adults who left home at age 26. We found that the most popular metro for whites was New York, while Asians and Hispanics were most likely to move to Los Angeles. Young black women and men preferred Atlanta.

But what if you break that data down, as Mr. Brown suggests, by parental income, a factor that determines so much in life but is itself rarely measured? Sonya Porter of the Census Bureau and Ben Sprung-Keyser and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University did just that for young adults born in the United States. using anonymized government tax records.

When we break the data down by income rather than race, we find that New York City is the sweet spot for young adults from households in the highest income brackets. The top destination for young adults with poorer parents is Atlanta. The middle class prefers Los Angeles.

These divisions are, of course, determined in part by race. New York is top for rich kids in part because it’s the top destination for white people, who are overrepresented among high earners. Meanwhile, Atlanta reigns supreme among low earners because it attracts many black Americans, who are overrepresented among low earners in part because of centuries of systemic discrimination.

People from high-income families are much more likely to move, regardless of race. But white people are much more likely to move, regardless of family income: even American-born white people from the most modest backgrounds tend to be more mobile than their American-born black, Asian and Hispanic friends. United luckiest – those whose parents won in the top 20 percent.

Other research shows that moving to cities with better opportunities is one of the best ways to move up the income and social class ladders in the United States. If these opportunities are disproportionately available to whites, it could exacerbate economic inequality. Admittedly, this study does not include immigrants – we lack comparable US tax data for their parents – and other studies have found them to be more mobile than their US-born peers.

“There’s a strong sense that switching to opportunity is a key route to improving one’s earning prospects,” Harvard’s Hendren said.

One of the most interesting things about the list, however, is what’s not on it: Chicago.

“The Second City” is now the third largest metro in America, but it ranks among the top five destinations only for high-income whites. In contrast, the two top metropolises among young people seeking opportunity – New York and Los Angeles – are widely favored by all races and income groups.

Visit for more underlying data and incredibly detailed interactive maps filled with mysterious facts that are sure to impress your dating app matches. (How many people who grew up in Columbia, Missouri ended up in nearby St. Louis, you ask? Why, 6.6% of young black people did, compared to just 4.5% young white people.)

The countries that manufacture the highest technology

Sources often William Gibson quote, telling me “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” This raises the question: where has the future already arrived? Which are the most advanced countries in the world?

Andrew Van Dam, newspaper columnist, suburban Virginia

Japan is the most technologically advanced country in the world, according to an analysis of trade data by Ulrich Schetter, a researcher at Harvard University’s Growth Lab. South Korea comes second after a meteoric rise in the rankings, Germany are now third, having slipped from the dominant technical position they held in the 1960s and 1970s.

The United States slipped to 12th place, just behind France and Britain and just ahead of Singapore and Slovenia, raising the prospect that the world’s top political and military power could fall behind China, where technology progressing steadily.

Schetter measures a country’s technological advancement with detailed trade data on over 1,200 products. Countries climb the rankings by exporting technologically sophisticated items such as nuclear reactors, electric trains and clock movements, but rank lower if they trade less advanced products such as bags (for packaging ), tobacco or tubers.

While its methodology can be complicated — it calculates a massive matrix and assesses how similar each pair of possible countries are in terms of the items they trade — the idea behind it is pretty intuitive, Schetter said. .

“Basically you’re just saying, ‘Okay, let me look at the technological capabilities of countries, which are revealed through the products they produce,'” Schetter told us.

By this measure, Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam rank higher than expected, as do former Warsaw Pact stalwarts such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

The best question we can’t answer

Mehmet Oz is a Turkish citizen, candidate for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. Have any Americans applied for overseas positions?

— Jim Ward, Alexandria, Virginia.

Our immediate answer to your question is: Yes, at least one.

Éamon de Valera was born in New York in 1882 to an Irish mother and moved to Ireland as a baby. A prominent leader of the Easter Rising, he would become the country’s first Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and would remain a dominant force in Irish politics until he retired from the presidency aged 90 in 1973.

But if anyone has compiled systematic data on this issue, we’d love to see it!

Hi! The data department has an endless appetite for fun facts! Which are the lowest taxed states? Why are there fire deaths in the United States? increased steadily for the last decade? When money is scarce, what health care needs do Americans ignore first? You just have to ask!

To get every question, answer, and factoid in your inbox as soon as we post, register here. If your question inspires a column, we’ll send you an official Department of Data button and ID card. This week the buttons go to Jeff, Lucien and Jim, who asked the questions above.