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Flaws In The New School Tests

High-stakes testing of schoolchildren has been causing high anxiety not just among students and their parents, but also for teachers, principals, superintendents, even public officials - all of whose fates, in a very real way, are now determined in part by these tests. Some of the latest headlines warned that, thanks to the mayor's new policy to end "social promotion," the results of the tests for third graders in New York City public schools indicated that some 10,000 of them may be forced to repeat third grade next year. As more provisions of the No Child Left Behind Acttake effect, more and more such testing will occur. Is it any wonder that the press has started to publish charts that track these scores in every single school?

But what do these tests actually measure? The truth is something that those who produce the data from the tests admit only privately: The entire process is seriously flawed. Even sustained increases over time may tell us much less about the academic performance of a student or a school than about the testing itself.

Educational researchers know that there are better ways to assess the progress of both individual students and entire school systems than the process now mandated by New York.

The current testing process is fundamentally flawed in at least three ways.


Fundamental to the use of these tests is the assumption that they measure the same set of skills and knowledge from year to year, and for the same sort of students. But in fact a score from one year may not be equivalent to the same score the following year. It is impossible to know whether a change in a test score from one year to the next is due to a change in actual student performance or to an unintended change in the make-up of the test. Obviously, one cannot use the same questions from year to year, and even though much effort goes into making sure that the test given in 2004 yields the same standards as the test form in 2003, it is a difficult task to be absolutely sure this is so.


No one who is working in any of the hard pressed urban schools in New York State can doubt the advantages of getting higher test scores on the English and Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics test. If a school does not improve, it may find itself on one of the several "bad school" lists prepared by the State Education Department. The school may be reconfigured; and the principal may lose his or her job or be reassigned.

So, once the new test was established in 1999, it is not surprising that districts and schools realigned their curriculum. However, as with any standardized test, there are specific things about the test itself that one needs to learn to do well on it. James Traub's article "The Test Mess," in the April 7, 2002 New York Times Magazine follows the efforts (or lack of efforts) of three districts to prepare for the exam. Such test prep can work, but it costs time, effort and resources for drill and practice. Now with the No Child Left Behind Act, there are complaints that schools are sacrificing additional parts of the curriculum to prepare the students for the test material only.

Companies now market test prep approaches to school districts. State grants, in part based upon federal money are now available for supplementary educational services that include test preparation. No matter how effective such programs are, they certainly must displace time and resources that could be used for other classroom activities, so improved scores may come at the expense of other learning.


Some commentators noted that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to end social promotion starting with third graders should lead immediately to an improvement in fourth grade test results next year, since many of the low-performing students will no longer be slated to take the test. Such "gaming" of high stakes test standards is rampant throughout the US. (See my August Columnon counting dropouts)

A host of such approaches are being used to make the results look better, from suggesting the poor-achieving students stay home, to reclassifying them as special education or English As A Second Language students. One year New York City suppressed the test results for seventh grade, when they indicated a drop, after trumpeting them the year before when they indicated an increase. New York City is not alone. A national studyfound evidence of just this sort of Enron-style accounting among school systems throughout the United States.


To assess educational progress at the state or large city level, the United States Department of Education developed the National Assessment of Educational Process. It is a test based upon knowledge determined to be needed at various grade levels. This is not a high stakes test, since it is only given to a sample of students, and the results are used to track overall educational performance change and have no consequences for a specific school or student.

One does not learn anything about the effect of schools on individual students from the current testing regime, nor would one from a test like the National Assessment of Education Process. An alternative approach that overcomes many of these difficulties is the so-called "value added" approach. One tracks the gains for each particular student, not the raw test score averages for each school, district, county or state.

In this way one can relate the student gains to specific schools, teachers and educational practices. This testing approach was mandated as a remedy to civil rights violations in a Tennessee court case and is being used in some other states as well. The value added method goes well beyond simply grading schools on whether the percent of students who passed a state-mandated exam increased or decreased from one year to next. Rather it takes into account where the student starts and the extent to which growth occurs while the student is enrolled in a specific school.

New York State and New York City it seems, rely upon an inferior and invalid method of tracking student progress even though they use the information it provides for many decisions affecting schools and students. Perhaps, given the brouhaha over the recent release of test scores, more realistic methods of tracking and assessment will be adopted - especially if parents and educators demand them.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.



















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Estimating New York City's Population

Earlier this month, the United States Census Bureau declared New York City to have the highest population ever, based on a new estimate. According to the bureau's newly-released annual county population estimates, New York City's population now stands at 8,085,742. The estimate of population growth since the 2000 Census is as follows:

38,000 from 2000 to 2001
17,000 from 2001 to 2002
14,000 from 2002 to 2003

In other words, according to the bureau, the city's population is still growing, though its rate of growth has substantially slowed since September 11th.

All of this was duly reported in the press. However, some demographers disagree with the bureau's method of estimating population.

Warren Brown of Cornell University says that the count is much too low. Currently he is helping New York City launch an informal challenge to the estimate. For example, the census bureau is saying that Brooklyn lost population from 2002 to 2003. But city officials point outthat the borough has gained some 4,000 housing units since the 2000 census 2000. Surely, they say, this is concrete evidence that the borough's population is on the rise.

But other demographers, myself included, believe that the new estimate for the city's population may instead be too high. I think it likely that New York City has actually been losing population since September 11th.


Federal law requires the census bureau to make estimates of the nation's population in-between the official census, which, as required by the U.S. Constitution, is conducted every ten years. These estimates are used for many purposes, including: allocating over $200 billion in federal funds; calculating such statistics as birth, death and crime rates determining the location of public and private services; computing controls for federal surveys;

To estimate the population the census bureau uses the "components of population change" method, which takes the number of births, subtracts the number of deaths and adds or subtracts the net number of people who migrated into or out of New York City. This number is then added to last year's population estimate.

If any of these figures are wrong the estimate will be wrong. Births and deaths, of course, are relatively simple numbers to acquire, since they are recorded throughout the United States. But gauging migration is much trickier. The bureau uses two estimates -- one for net domestic migration and another for net international migration. The Internal Revenue Service produces a file that reports the number of people who change the county in which they file tax returns from one year to the next. This file is considered quite reliable except for its ability to track college students, military personnel and others who may move unpredictably.

Getting truly accurate estimates is challenging, especially in places such as New York City.


During the 1990s, as I have discussed in earlier columns, the census estimate of the growth in New York City was too low by about 50,000 per year. It became obvious that the way the bureau estimated the growth of the foreign born population was grossly inaccurate. Since the bureau used the number of individuals who received permanent resident status by county in a given year, they missed people who entered or stayed in the United States illegally, those on student and work visas, or those who are visiting the United States for other reasons.

So beginning with the 2002 estimates, the census bureau began to use the new American Community Survey(ACS) to estimate changes to the foreign born population. This survey will replace the census long form, which asked about 50 questions of roughly one-sixth of the population in 2000. It will be a large continuous collection of social and economic data and will offer a continuously updated picture of every locale in the United States, down to each census tract (which in New York City can be a single block). But this survey is not yet implemented in every county in the United States, because it is yet to be fully funded. For this reason, the bureau cannot determine if the number of new foreign born at the national level has changed significantly since the 2003 data are not yet available.

Furthermore, they are not yet confident in using information at the county level from this data set. To estimate change in foreign born in each county, they assumed that the pattern found in the 2000 Census continued through 2003. Therefore, this method does not take into account changes in the number and destination of new foreign born caused by a reaction to 9/11 or the worsening New York City economy. According to Signe Wetrogan, the assistant division chief of the bureau's Population Estimates and Projections of the Population Division, bureau officials are reviewing methods and data, so that they can create leading indicators of population change, such as employment figures and yearly school enrollment.


All these technical details mean that the estimated net number of new foreign born coming to New York City each year since 2000 is about 104,300. If Warren Brown is right, and the foreign born or other migration estimate is too low, then the city's rapid 1990s growth may indeed be continuing. It is certainly possible that the Census's new method has missed many new foreign born.

However, I think it is more likely that just as net out-migration to the rest of the United States increased after 9/11, the number of new foreigners coming to New York City would have decreased, as well. If the number of new foreign born actually declined by 17,000 or more after 9/11, then New York City has lost population in the last two years.

Until the census bureau refines its methods we cannot be sure if New York City's population is growing, declining or stable. However, I think it is important to be patient with the bureau and its efforts to get this right. When it has more confidence in its data and methods, it will simply re-estimate the population change in New York City, not just for one additional year, but for all of the years back to 2000.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.

















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The Passion for Religion Ebbs

As the Passion of the Christ continues to break box office records, Christians observe lent, Jews prepare for Passover, the attorney general holds morning prayer services and politicians routinely voice their religious conviction from the stump, one might get the impression that Americans are becoming more and more religious, and that they are increasingly uneasy about such secular and scientific trends as abortion, equality for gay people, and stem cell research. Yet, data from the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey shows that Americans, and New Yorkers, are actually becoming less religious. About 30 million adults were found to have no religious affiliation, which is almost double what it was a decade earlier (from 8.2 to 14.1 percent). In New York State, there are about 1.9 million such residents (or about 13.4 percent of the population), and in New York City, we can infer, some 14 percent of the population says it has no religious affiliation, which, again, is about double what it was a decade ago.

The survey results for New York State, presented in the accompanying table present few other surprises. Together all Christian groups have declined, from 80 percent to 71 percent. Most Catholic and Protestant groups, along with the Mormons and the Jews, report substantial drops in religious identification, while Muslims and Eastern religions more than doubled their adherents. Those few subscribing to the more evangelical and fundamentalist versions of Christianity also show substantial increases in New York. Apparently, the non-Christian religions of the immigrant communities and those of the Christian right are on the upsurge, but the more conventional religions are losing popularity. At the same time, though, as I said, there is a gain in people having no religion at all.

Unlike those in the United Kingdom and some other countries, the United States Census does not ask for religious identification. To fill that gap, academic researchers in 1990 and again in 2001 were able to raise funds to carry out a large scale nationwide survey of religious identification. In 1990, for the first time ever, they surveyed over 110,000 US adults about their religious identification. Results from the National Survey of Religious Identification were reported in the seminal book One Nation Under God: Religion in Contemporary America by Barry Kosmin and Seymour Lachman. In 2001, Kosmin along with Ariela Keysar and the late Egon Mayer of the CUNY Graduate Center conducted a survey of about 51,000 adults from the lower 48 states. That study produced two reports, and now the researchers are working on a book interpreting their findings. Since the United States does not track religion as part of the census, the results from these surveys give us the best information available on the changing patterns of religious identification. Both surveys used individual responses to questions to measure religious identification.

The increase in religious identification in New York among Muslims, and those from Eastern religions, reflects the increase in the number of immigrants from Asian and Middle Eastern countries. What is much more difficult to account for is the large increase in those stating that they have no religion. While some of the growth is among those who say they are atheist or agnostic, the vast bulk of those giving a "no religion" response do not identify with such labels. Those having no religion tend to be white, unmarried, young and male.

Some researchers cite growing evidence, that America and New York City are truly becoming a belief bazaar, where people essentially pick and choose among competing viewpoints, including no religion at all. In a more detailed survey among 17,000 respondents, ARIS results found that about one-sixth of the adult population had switched religions. The report notes, "switching has involved not only the shift of people's spiritual loyalties from one religion to another -- which could reflect some kind of spiritual seeking -- but also and perhaps more importantly, a dropping out of religion altogether." Overall about one-fifth of those with no religion switched to that view from an established religion, while only five percent of those with no religion found religion.

The data for New York and for the nation make it plain that, despite the visibility of the few, for a large segment of the population, conventional religion is losing its appeal.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.

Imprisoned In New York

Criminals are among New York City’s most popular exports. According to a recent study, about 44,000 state prisoners, or two-thirds of the entire state prison population, are from New York City. Yet only 3,000 of these inmates are in state-run jails that are actually located in New York City. The rest are trucked up to state-run prisons upstate. While inconvenient to their relatives, their relocation is a huge benefit, both economically and politically, to rural counties upstate – at the expense of New York City.

More Than 100,000 Prisoners

All together, there are some 108,000 people imprisoned somewhere in New York State, according to the 2000 census.

  • 6,500 are in federal prisons or detention centers
  • 34,000 are in local jails
  • 66,000 are in state prisons

Only about 21,000 of these 108,000 were housed in New York City

  • 2,600 in federal prisons and detention centers
  • 15,000 in local jails,
  • 3,000 in state prisons

Many people held in local jails are awaiting trial or serving relatively short sentence. Those convicted of more serious local crimes serve time in state prisons.

Most of those prisons are upstate, as the accompanying map shows.

All prisons built since 1982 have been constructed upstate. There are so many inmates in sparsely-populated rural counties upstate that nearly 30 percent of all new residents in Upstate New York in the 1990s were prisoners, according to a Brookings Institution study. Upstate gained 21,000 new prisoners during the decade, an increase that was accompanied by a growing number of prison staff, as well as inmates' relatives. Upstate has a larger share of prisoners than the nation as a whole -- 1.1 percent of its population in 2000, compared to just 0.7 percent of the U.S. population.”

The Costs

Since the average cost of housing a prisoner in New York is upwards of $40,000 the economic impact of having a prison is enormous. Resources spent on prisoners cannot go for other public activities, so resources are diverted from education, housing and other services to housing prisoners.

The Benefits

Unlike the residents living at-large who surround them they are much more likely male (over 90 percent), black (about 57 percent), and Hispanic (about 30 percent.) Most of upstate New York, of course, is predominantly non-Hispanic white. The only way that such residents are truly welcomed upstate is when they are locked away in cells.


But why are they welcomed even then?


The answer is: they are officially counted as upstate residents.

Services that are provided to them stimulate the local economy, which is frequently in decline.

The prisoners also supply another unique benefit to the upstate region. They allow it to have more voting power than its population would merit if prisoners were not there. Since prisoners cannot vote but are counted in redistricting, they give upstate the benefits of extra people (and cash) without the locality being obligated to address any of their needs. Legally, residency is generally determined based upon both where one is domiciled and the intent to remain there. So a prisoner taken from his home in New York City and counted in an upstate prison, which he expects to leave as soon as he can, is not really an upstate resident. The census could count such individuals where they once lived, as they do overseas military troops. Instead, the census, in effect, gives that population to the upstate New York City rural areas or other areas where prisoners are housed. A new and aptly named web site “Prisoners of the Census” developed by Soros Justice Fellow Peter J. Wagner gives many more details on these impacts.

The impact of this practice in New York State is large. In effect, about 44,000 people are arbitrarily transferred from New York City to upstate, and redistricting for every level of state office is affected. For instance the following Senate districts would be legally underpopulated and need to be redrawn were it not for the prison population:

  • District 45 (Betsy Little whose district includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington Counties),
  • District 47 (Raymond Meier whose district includes Lewis County and parts of Oneida and St. Lawrence Counties); ),
  • District 48 (James Wright whose district includes Jefferson and Oswego Counties and parts of St. Lawrence County), ),
  • District 49 (Nancy Hoffman whose district includes Madison County and parts of Cayuga, Oneida and Onondaga Counties), ),
  • District 51 (James Seward whose district includes Cortland, Greene, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie Counties and parts of Chenango and Tompkins Counties), ),
  • District 54 (Michael Nozzolio whose district includes Cortland, Greene, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie Counties and parts of Chenango and Tompkins Counties) and ),
  • District 59 (Dale Volker whose district includes Wyoming County and parts of Erie, Livingston and Ontario Counties)

At the same time several districts in New York City, most likely in Queens, would be over populated, if the prisoners were counted as residing in the city.

Unwilling Sojourners

According to one commentator New York City prisoners are not residents of upstate – they cannot vote or otherwise participate in the local society -- but merely “unwilling sojourners” there. Many are arrested on drug offenses and held for long mandatory minimum sentences. This might help explain why the upstate legislators, most particularly the State Senators from rural upstate districts, are very strong supporters of keeping the Rockefeller drug laws intact.


Once New York City prisoners finish their sentences, they leave upstate and move back to the city with little or no services or reentry assistance beyond that provided by social services and the probation officer.

In sum, New York City residents who become prisoners based in large part on the Rockefeller drug laws are transported upstate to be exploited both economically and politically in largely Republican areas.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.

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Who Are NYC's Republicans?

As the Republicans prepare for their first-ever national convention to take place in New York City, are they struggling to come up with a welcoming committee of native New Yorkers? Surely, Republican Governor George Pataki will play a part, but what about Republicans specifically from the city? It is true that for almost 10 years New York City's mayor has been a Republican, but both Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg used to be Democrats, and they won election in part because they were willing to abandon many now-core national GOP positions, including banning abortion and not granting gay people full equality.

The convention could easily give a primetime slot to every Republican elected official from New York City. There are only 13 of them. That includes all three levels of government, federal, state and city:

  • Only three of the 51 New York City Council members are Republican.
  • Only two of the 65 State Assembly members are Republican.
  • Only four of the 25 State Senators whose districts are completely in New York City, are Republican. (Add to that Guy Vellela, who represents a very gerrymandered district that corralled white voters in the Bronx and Westchester County into a district that looks like a white donut around a black center).
  • Only one Congressional seat out of the 14 that include New York is represented by a Republican.

(To get to 13, add the borough president and district attorney from Staten Island).

And even most of these GOP office-holders do not represent Republican-majority districts.

Where Do Republicans Live In NYC?

The small number of Republican elected officials is not surprising. Only 13 percent of the 3.7 million registered voters in New York City are registered as Republican, according to the New York City Board of Elections.

The smallest percentage of Republicans is in the Bronx (9.3 percent). Listing the other boroughs in ascending order, they are:

  • Brooklyn (12.1 percent)
  • Manhattan (14.1 percent)
  • Queens (18.1 percent)

By far the largest percentage of Republicans is in Staten Island (37.8 percent). Only in Staten Island are there contiguous areas of Republican strength, as evident in the accompanying map showing the concentration of GOP voters throughout New York City.

Todt Hill, an affluent area of single-family homes, contains the most Republican-majority election districts in the city. The extended area around Todt is also reliably Republican, responsible for electing five of the 13 GOP public officials in the city (a state senator, two assembly members and two council members).

No other area in NYC is so pervasively Republican, not even the Upper East Side. Indeed, even in that affluent enclave (where four years ago zip code 10021 supplied the most campaign funds to both Bush and Gore of any zip code in the United States), Democrats outnumber Republicans.

In Queens there are a few pockets of Republican strength in Glendale, Middle Village, Forest Hills, and Howard Beach as well as Douglaston, Whitestone, and College Point. There are two GOP State Senators and one council member from Queens.

Election districts in New York City with high proportions of GOP enrolled voters, are areas with high proportions of whites living in owner-occupied homes.

How Different are NYC’s GOP Voters from Other NYC Voters?

Republicans in New York City are demographically different from other city adult residents.

GOP members are much more affluent. About 31 percent of them have incomes above $75,000. This compares to only 16 percent of New Yorkers as a whole, according to an analysis of the raw data from a CBS-New York Times poll of New York City completed in June 2003. (Because the number of respondents is only 962, the results reported are approximate.)

Republicans are about half as likely to report that their financial situation has worsened recently--24 percent of Republicans say that, compare to 42 percent of all New Yorkers.

Republicans are more likely to own their own home (47 percent versus 30 percent.)

About three-quarters are white compared to less than half of the rest of the New York City population. Interestingly, though, there is as large a proportion of Republicans who are Hispanic (28 percent) as of New Yorkers in general.

Republicans are more likely to be between 45 and 64 years old than the population as a whole (37 percent versus 27 percent.), and just about as likely as the population as a whole to have kids living with them (35 percent.)

They are more like to identify with a religion, 81 percent compared to 76 percent. While 57 percent of New York City Republicans are Catholic, only 36 percent of non-Republican New Yorkers are Catholic; similarly 14 percent of Republicans they are Jewish compared to 8 percent of the rest of New Yorkers.

But Republicans in New York are just about as likely to be in a union or have a union member in the family--26 percent versus 25 percent -- and even more likely to have a municipal worker in the family--25 percent versus 17 percent.

And Republicans are more likely to smoke -- 29 percent versus 19 percent.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.





Five Hidden Facts About Housing (An Analysis Of Data From The Housing and Vacancy Survey)

The New York Housing and Vacancy Survey (known to those interested in housing as HVS) is conducted every three years (unless it is a Census year) on commission from New York City's Department of Housing and Preservation. The point of the survey is to determine the rental vacancy rate in New York City. If the vacancy rate should go above five percent it would be the end of rent regulation in New York City, because of a provision in the 1974 Emergency Tenants Protection Act. After the survey is completed, those interested wait for the first release of information, which includes the vacancy rate(in pdf format).

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the raw data from the 2002 Housing and Vacancy Survey. My analysis of these data revealed some hidden and surprising facts about housing in New York. Here are five such findings:

1. Rent regulation seems to be vanishing in New York faster than many thought. In just three short years, according to an estimate I made, some 90,000 apartments in the city were de-regulated, or about eight percent of the total number of 970,000 stabilized apartments in New York. This estimate takes into account some of the changes in the survey sample between 1999 and 2002. It also only considers those apartments subject to the 1974 Emergency Tenants Protection Act. It excludes those that have been "controlled " as well as apartments in other categories, e.g. Public Housing, loft conversions, etc.

2. Two-thirds of all non-regulated apartments in Manhattan now rent at $2,000 or more. In 1999 this figure was slightly below half. Manhattan also is the borough with the largest drop in stabilized units. The Lower East Side / Chinatown and Greenwich Village were the two neighborhoods in New York City with the highest percentage increases for stabilized apartments. (I only included neighborhoods with enough units in the sample to make comparisons meaningful.) As these trends continue more and more Manhattan apartments can and will be removed from stabilization.

3. In every neighborhood in Manhattan, except for Washington Heights the median rent for those in stabilized apartments is less than three-fifths of those in non-stabilized apartments. For all apartments in Manhattan the stabilized median is 38 percent that of the market rate median. In the Upper West Side, for example, the median rent for those in market rate apartments is $2,500; for those in stabilized apartments the median rent is $924. So those in rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan enjoy very large subsidies.

4. The largest increase in rents in market rate apartments occurred in the outer boroughs. Specifically Bay Ridge, Park Slope and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Astoria and Woodside /Sunnyside in Queens all saw market rate rents increase by thirty percent or more. These areas are undergoing new construction and renovation of existing structures.

5. In general stabilized and market rent housing was slightly more affordable in 2002 than in 1999. In 1999 exactly half of such renters paid more than 30 percent of their income for housing, and 26 percent paid more than half. By 2002 , the first such group dropped by one percent (49 percent of such renters paid more than 30 percent of their income for rent), the second group went up one percent (27 percent paid more than half). Mostly, however, this reflects income gains. New York still continues to be one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the United States.

The implications of these findings, of course, can and will be debated by advocates for tenants and landlords. It does seem plain however, that the main beneficiaries of rent stabilization are those living in such apartments in Manhattan, and a few other "hot" neighborhoods. Yet, the trend towards freeing apartments from the ETPA means that more and more of these units will be lost to stabilization in Manhattan as rents are pushed above the $2,000 cut off. In most of the rest of New York City, few stabilized apartments would ever fetch $2,000. Indeed, outside of Manhattan the median rent for stabilized apartments is about 84 percent of the rent of those that are "market rate." At the same time, as more and more Manhattan apartments leave stabilization, fewer and fewer households will be able to afford to live there.


Because the Housing and Vacancy Survey has the very important purpose of determining whether the system of rent regulation should remain in place, it is carefully designed and carried out by the Census Bureau. The two federal and city agencies put a great deal of effort in constructing a sampling frame of housing units in New York City that matches the housing in the various categories of regulation. About 17,000 units are surveyed. The survey also presents data on a large array of interesting things, including income, education, household structure, and immigration. In many ways it functions as an update to the decennial census. Unlike the census, though, it is conducted by personal interview. Each unit that is initially judged vacant is subject to further screening both to find out if it is truly vacant, and if it is vacant whether or not it is truly available to be rented. The vacancy rate is based not upon total units, but rather upon total units that are vacant and available to be rented. Eventually a comprehensive report will be issued by Department of Housing and Preservation, which is usually entitled Housing New York City. Before that report is released, the data themselves are made available to researchers.

Because the 2002 survey uses a sample based upon the 2000 Census and the 1999 Survey is based upon the 1990 Census simple comparisons become more difficult. To make my estimate of the change in the number of stabilized units, I adjusted the 1999 survey based upon results from the 2000 Census compared to the 2002 Vacancy survey. During the summer of 2004, the Census plans to provide data reweighted so that they are based upon the 2000 Census for all of the surveys conducted since 1993. At that point we can assess how accurate were my estimates.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.












Young, Graduated and in New York City

Every year New York City draws young people in pursuit of fame, fortune, excitement and relevance. They are a popular subject for literature, theater, and Gotham Gazette (see Gotham Gazette's newcomers weblogs and issue of the week article). But who exactly are the recent college graduates in the city? Where do they come from? What do they do for a living? What sorts of living arrangements do they have?

It is possible to paint a demographic portrait of younger college graduates in the city and compare them with the rest of the population between 18 and 65. To do this I used a newly released data file from the 2000 census. Of course, the severe downturn in the economy in the past three years may have changed the picture somewhat. Still it is instructive to look at who the young college graduates were in 2000.

About 273,000 New Yorkers were college grads 28 years of age or younger in 2000 who were either not enrolled in a graduate degree program or if they were enrolled were also working full-time. (Defining them this way eliminates those who are primarily pursuing graduate education). About 57 percent were female, compared to 52 percent for the rest of the population 18 to 65. About 59 percent were non-Hispanic whites, 11 percent black, 16 percent Asian and 10 percent Hispanic. So these young grads are much more female, much more white, and much more Asian and much less black and Hispanic than the population at large. About 10 percent lived abroad in 1995, while 45 percent lived in New York City and an equal number moved here from elsewhere. Thus many obtained their college degrees in the New York City's colleges, most particularly, of course, CUNY. About 18 percent were non-citizens compared to 26 percent of the rest of the population.

Fully 84 percent of recent graduates were working in 2000, compared to only about 60 percent of the other non-senior adults. Almost two-thirds of college grads (compared to less than one third of the others who are working) were in higher status occupations: management, business and finance, or professional and related occupations. Over half use public transit to get to work (much higher than the third reported by the rest of the population), and the commute took them a median of a half hour. Though the recent college graduates and others in New York City reported 40 median hours worked per week, the recent graduates earned a median of $32,000 per year compared to $26,000 for the others.

As to living arrangements, about one-fifth were married, compared to almost half of the rest of the population. About one-quarter of the recent grads live with their parents, while about one-third lived with roommates. On average the grads lived with 1.66 other persons, while the rest of the adults lived with 2.44. They did pay a lot more to house their smaller households -- $1050 compared to $725 for median rent. This is not surprising, since as the accompanying map shows, the highest concentration of recent grads were in such "hot" areas as Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Lower Manhattan, Williamsburg, Park Slope, and the Upper East Side. One can easily see that they are very oriented towards Manhattan, especially Manhattan downtown.

Thus the young college graduates such as those depicted in the Broadway puppet musical Avenue Q, when compared to New Yorkers at large are quite privileged. Many work in good jobs and earn decent livings. They flock to the more fashionable residential areas in the city and are able to pay the rents to live there. They renew the ranks of the "creative class" recently identified by Professor Richard Florida as very important for urban growth. So though it may be a frightening and difficult prospect for these quarter million new recruits to New York City adulthood, it seems that the city is good place to be young, and it is good for the city that they are here.

Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.

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