Family has never been simple

The U.S. process for family-based or “chain” migration is complex. While the system allows for relatives to migrate to the United States for family reunification, it is far from an open-door policy. There are backlogs for family-sponsored visas ranging from two to 23 years depending on country of origin, family member being sponsored, and status of the sponsor.

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Gabriel Cortes
Against a backdrop of fewer babies, Utah leads the nation in birth rates

When used in a demographic context, natural change refers to the answer to a basic population equation: births minus deaths. Of the 42 states who saw population growth in 2017, more than half of them (23) have natural change—not migration—to thank for the majority of their growth. The youthful states of California (+214,000), Texas (+210,000), and New York (+73,000) lead the nation in natural increase in the latest year. And Utah’s nation-leading birth rate helped it lay claim to the title of 3rd fastest growing state in 2017.

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Andi Egbert
Do schools reduce, replicate, or exacerbate inequality?

The answer to the question of whether school districts decrease, replicate, or increase inequality is “Yes.” Or, more precisely, it depends on which district you are talking about. New research reveals that third graders in districts with high average reading and math test scores will not necessarily see bigger (or smaller) gains by eighth grade than will third graders in lower-scoring districts. But even the most effective school districts are only able to help their third graders achieve one extra year of growth by eighth grade.

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Craig Helmstetter
Destination U.S.: Five facts about states' international migrants in 2017

International migration is the most variable part of the equation for population change--as federal immigration policies and procedures, changing global economic conditions, and numerous other causes can dramatically change the flows of people into (and out of) the U.S. In 2017, front-runner state California gathered up 165,000 net international arrivals in 2017, ahead of Florida (+144,000), New York (+130,000), and Texas (+110,000). Not a single state saw more international arrivals in 2017 than in 2016, a reversal of otherwise climbing international migration figures over the decade, for nearly all states.

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Andi Egbert
Delayed adulthood: The Millennial falsehood

Hi. I’m a Millennial. We need to talk. In 2016, 15 percent of Older Millennials were living with their parents. Should we see this as a delay in adulthood? I would argue, no. Older Millennials are haunted by the Great Recession, and many are pinned down by crippling debt. For many, the “decision” to live at home with parents instead of independently is the financially responsible and economically rational choice. The traditional norms that may have governed our idea of adulthood may be transitioning into something that more accurately reflects this generation.

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Gabriel Cortes
Migration magnetism: Five facts about 2017 state-to-state population movement

The flows of people across state boundaries—domestic migration—is of particular interest to a host of people: businesses feeling the pain of labor shortages, Census 2020 watchers wondering how Congressional seats will be reallocated, and even those for whom it’s a point of state pride. Netting 161,000 new residents from other states, Florida was the domestic migration champ in 2017. Second-place Texas had half as many domestic migrants (79,000). Next in line, North Carolina and Washington each acquired about 65,000 transplants in 2017, with Arizona just behind.

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Andi Egbert
Male, female, or something else?

Caitlyn Jenner. Bathroom bans and related boycotts. Amazon Prime’s Golden Globe winning Transparent series. President Trump’s (now overturned) order excluding transgendered individuals from the military. It is safe to say that questioning the traditional male-female gender binary is now part of our national dialogue. Other researchers and many of those working in public health are among those calling for more and better measurement of the nation’s gender diversity. Like other relatively small and difficult-to-estimate populations—those experiencing homelessness, some immigrant populations, the rare true geniuses that walk amongst us—getting some idea of the population size is but one step in helping to understand their unique needs and contributions.

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Craig Helmstetter
Just over half of Minnesotans report personal financial progress over the decade

Underneath the headline indicators, we know there are numerous untold economic stories. When we designed the MPR News | APM Research Lab Ground Level Survey, we were especially curious about Minnesotans’ sense of their financial circumstances and whether they felt they had improved or deteriorated since 2007—just preceding the financial crisis and subsequent recession with its long tail. Many of those north of the poverty line still fear they are in precarious financial straits.

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Andi Egbert
Improving the news—and building democracy—in 2018 (and beyond)

It has been a little disheartening to see the recent spate of reports on mistrust in the news media. How can we rebuild trust in America's essential fourth estate? I suspect that some combination of listening to others, presenting solidly-researched information, and being as transparent as possible will help. And that is just what we've been doing in our first major project: the Ground Level Survey with Minnesota Public Radio News.

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Craig Helmstetter
Minnesotans: United on water, divided on immigration

If Minnesota competed in a pageant, it might take the “Optimism” crown—if that were even a thing. The Ground Level Survey that we recently completed with Minnesota Public Radio News found that 82 percent of Minnesotans feel hopeful about the state’s future. What’s more, most Minnesotans feel the state is on the right track on an array of issues. At the high end of agreement, 85 percent of Minnesotans feel the state is on the right track when it comes to “providing safe drinking water,” followed closely by “protecting lakes and rivers for things like swimming, boating, and fishing” at 80 percent.

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Gabriel Cortes
Do more Minnesotans want lower taxes, or services that require taxes?

“I don’t know off the top of my head. Lowering taxes.” That was one response to the broadest open-ended question on the recent MPR News | APM Research Lab Ground Level Survey. The question was about change. It asked: “If there is ONE thing that you would like to see changed in Minnesota to improve our state, what would that be?” But “lower my taxes” strikes me as a simplification. While reading through all of the responses, I was taken by how many people wanted a change that would require taxes.

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Gabriel Cortes
In the U.S., language diversity covers the map

Did you know that 17,000 residents of Tennesseans speak Arabic? And 177,000 residents of Illinois converse in Polish? Just as glaciers transformed our nation’s physical landscape thousands of years ago, the immigration patterns of the past three centuries—right up to the present—have left their mark on the varied linguistic patterns across the United States.

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Andi Egbert
Data Literacy 101: Did enrollment drop in Rhode Island's private preschools?

Of all Rhode Island children enrolled in preschool, the percent in private settings dropped five percentage points between 2015 and 2016. Or did it? When a change is “statistically significant,” we can be reasonably confident that the change is real. We use statistics to help us understand an entire population from a sample. Think of a pot of chicken noodle soup. Assuming the pot is well-stirred, you can make a pretty good estimate based on one ladle of soup.

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Gabriel Cortes
Minnesotans are feeling hopeful. Mostly.

We recently partnered with Minnesota Public Radio News to conduct the wide-ranging Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans. We asked a scientifically representative sample of 1,654 Minnesotans “When you think about Minnesota, are you generally hopeful or fearful about the future?” and here are five takeaways.

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Craig Helmstetter
Undercounting the poor by 4 million

This September the U.S. Census Bureau announced that 40.6 million Americans officially live in poverty. In the same announcement the Bureau reported that 44.8 million Americans live in poverty. Huh? The difference lies in the way poverty is defined.

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Craig Helmstetter
Clocking out early

Whether donning stethoscopes or steel-toed boots, the men and women of Minnesota are serious about working. Prior to age 60, Minnesota boasts a nation-leading labor force participation rate. But why are older Minnesotans entering full retirement more quickly than many older adults across the nation? One heartening theory: Minnesota’s older adults may be more economically secure, with more retirement savings, than late-career workers across much of the nation.

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Andi Egbert
Doubling down on credibility

Why would a media company want to establish a research division? Not a market research division, mind you, but a unit dedicated to bringing the scientific method to better understanding the social and economic world around us?

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Craig Helmstetter