Friday, April 26, 2013

Stats on Gun Deaths and Aging

Two articles from Thursday's Pioneer Press had stats that made me stop and do some math.

First: Minnesota has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, but even so, African-Americans are disproportionately killed by guns.

From 2008 to 2010, according to a Minnesota Public Radio analysis of CDC data, "73 black, non-hispanic Minnesotans died from gun-related homicides" -- 7.3 per 100,000 over the three years. In the same time period, 78 white Minnesotans were killed, a rate of 0.6 per 100,000.

But things become much less clear when suicides by gun are included. 800 white people killed themselves with a gun in the same period, compared to just 17 black people. That means three white people kill themselves with a gun for every black person who does. Now that's an achievement gap black folks may not mind.

It doesn't quite even out overall, though. I crunched the numbers and found that the death rate by gun -- whether homicide or suicide -- was 0.675 per 100,000 for whites and .9 per 100,000 for blacks. But that's a lot closer than those original numbers, and the screaming headline on the PiPress site, would lead you to believe.

Second: In an AP-NORC survey, two-thirds of people over the age of 40 said they've done little or no planning for their aging years. Only 25 percent think they'll need help getting around or caring for themselves at some point, even though over half of them (us) have been caregivers to relatives or friends, so we should realize that it happens to most people.

Government estimates are that seven in 10 people will need long-term care some time after age 65.

The survey also found that 60 percent of people underestimated the cost of nursing homes (which average $6,700 a month currently) and that more than a third think Medicare will pay for it or home health aides.

Under 50 percent of those polled thought they would ever need Medicaid to step in to pay for their care, even though only about 25 percent say they'll have the money to pay for it on their own.

Just another sign of how misinformed we can be about how the structure and funding of government programs affect us.

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