Let's Play Ball!

Family income and educational background largely determine which kids succeed and which strike out.

October 23, 2011

"Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

So stated John F. Kennedy. Research unearthed this week indicates increasing numbers of children exist in economic situations that may hinder their own futures—and ours.

Also in the news: homeownership trends, shopping sentiments, and a report examining the interrelations of productivity, wages, and marriage through the lens of major league baseball.

First up: the economy throws our children and futures a curve ball if we ascribe JFK’s pithy observation. Resources available to children affect them into adulthood, according to Brookings’ “What is Happening to America’s Children? A Look at the Widening Opportunity Gap for Today’s Youth.”

This study reveals a correlation between family income levels and educational background: When parents possess a college diploma, children are economically advantaged.

“Research suggests that these differences in parental outcomes can have enormous consequences for their children, and that opportunities available to us growing up are indeed linked to opportunities later in life,” the report states.

A particularly vulnerable group of children appear to be those of Hispanic origin. “More Latino children are living in poverty—6.1 million in 2010—than children of any other race or ethnic group,” reports Pew Hispanic Center in “Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation.”

Findings that may harken back to the Brookings report show:

• Of Latino children living in poverty, more than two-thirds are children of immigrants;
• Unemployment of Latinos (11.1%) is higher than the national average of 9.1%; and
• Almost one-third of Latino households with children suffer from food insecurity.

Evidently many college students recognize future economic benefits of a degree as shown in “Borrowing at the Maximum: Undergraduate Stafford Loan Borrowers in 2008-08.” This report reveals that, “about 30-31% of those who took out a Stafford loan also took out a private loan, compared with 6% of those who did not take out any Stafford loans.”

Rounding the bases on the issue of youth and economics, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicates girls are a compelling economic group in “Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies.” An international group of various leaders determined rural girls’ “personal and professional development, health, and safety can better be supported and, in turn, spur long-term economic growth and social stability at the community, national, and regional levels.”

Here, attention is given to the important situation of the effect of childhood experiences on future economic conditions.

U.S. families are hoping to strike out poverty issues in housing arrangements as domiciles of multiple generations become more prevalent, according to “Fighting Poverty in a Bad Economy, Americans Move in With Relatives.”

In 2009, there were 51.4 million such households, up from 46.5 million in 2007.

Also on deck with housing, “2010 Census Shows Second Highest Homeownership Rate on Record Despite Largest Decrease Since 1940.”

Let’s slide into home with a look at “How Long Do Housing Cycles Last? A Duration Analysis for 19 OECD Countries” from the International Money Fund. This report looks at the ups and downs of housing prices from the previous 40 years.

Will it be a swing and a miss with holiday shopping this year? Not necessarily, as “NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Increase of 2.8% to $465.6 billion.” However, “The 2011 holiday season can be summed up in one word: average.”

Don’t be out in left field when you do your holiday shopping. Nielsen reports in “Consumers Around the World Favor Value Over Price,”  that “retailers and manufacturers who offer good values…stand to gain the most from consumers who continue efforts to stretch their money in a tough economy.”

Perhaps this trend is because, as Gallup says, “Economic confidence stabilizes at low levels.”

We’ll hit the last pitch out of the park in this week’s “Batter Up Round Up” with a unique study from London’s Centre for Economic Performance, “Productivity, Wages, and Marriage: The Case of Major League Baseball.”

This interesting case study of baseball players attempts to discern if married men are more productive and thus higher wage earners, a concept that has been hard to determine as many explanations exist for the higher earning married man as compared to his single teammate.

You make the call, as the report says, “There is anecdotal evidence that Lou Gehrig’s wife was instrumental in his salary negotiations.”

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.