The problem with showmen

I’m fascinated by people like Ben Shapiro. He’s smooth, well-spoken, and he gets up on a stage and rattles off stuff like it’s all real. He has a strong following on social media, and conservatives seem to love him. I watch his videos from time to time, not necessarily videos that he posts, but videos of him, and I’m taken by some common themes. Let’s use this one as an example, after the fold.

I’m not sure what made me watch this video today, but I did. I’m not sure why I didn’t just wander past it, and ignore it, but I didn’t.

First, the college professor didn’t “confront” anybody, he asked a question. Second, Shapiro didn’t “school” anybody, he talked fast, threw out some anecdotes, and said a lot of stuff without any data supporting the claims.

Irrespective of what Shapiro said, I was curious if he was right, that millennials were, in fact, doing worse than previous generations. So I went to a set of data collected by the US Census Bureau and found a table of data on median income by age, sex, and year. Here’s what I found:

In 2005, Americans in the 18-24 age range had median incomes of $17,351 (men) and $13,538 (women). Adjusted for inflation, in 2016 dollars, that’s $20,085 and $15,671 respectively.

In 2016, Americans in the 18-24 age rage had median incomes of $23,005 (men) and $16,861 (women).

Two things pop out based on this:

1) Shapiro’s answer to the question, stating that millennials are “faring poorly,” is not correct, at least not based on median incomes. The first millenials to reach college graduation age are not making less, but are making a bit more than people of the generation before them.

2) People often talk about gender disparity in income being a result of life choices, such as taking time off of work to have children. The average age at which women have their first child in the United States has been steadily increasing. Keeping in mind that the percentage of women under 25 without kids has not changed (or has gone down a bit) between 2005 and 2016, it seems especially problematic that incomes (in inflation-adjusted dollars) went up 14.5% for men, and 7.66% for women between 2005 and 2016. That sure makes it seem like deciding to stay home and have kids isn’t driving the disparity in income, at least not in that age group.



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