Wednesday, April 22, 2009

JES Presentation - May 6th

The first presentation on the Jewish Economics Survey (take it here) is two weeks from today, May 6th, at 8:00pm at the Mt. Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights. The address is 135 Bennett Ave., New York, NY, 10040.

In the days leading up to the survey, I'll try to post a few things about both the survey and related subjects, likely touching on issues that I'll be mentioning either during the survey or a Q&A session which will follow.

One issue which I probably will not get into too much, but is extremely important, is touched on by Ariella in a post today: Paying yourself for your time. What people often think is pampering (saving an hour by sending laundry to the dry cleaner instead of doing it yourself) is often far more costly (because you'll work three hours after taxes to earn the same money). It's also money you don't have which can be better used to save or earn you money, whether by paying off credit cards or investing.

An interesting tidbit regarding life insurance responses on the survey so far, when you break it out - the % of each group which has life insurance:
  • Single, no kids: 7.7%
  • Married, no kids: 26.7%
  • Single, kids: 50.0%
  • Married, 1 child: 62.1%
  • Married, 2 children: 64.4%
  • Married, 3 children: 92.6%
  • Married, 4 children: 96.2%
  • Married, 5 or more children: 78.8%
There are actually more responses of 5+ children than either 3 or 4, so it's not the sample size [there are actually a similar number of responses in each slice, there are simply far more "No" answers in the 5+ group]. Most likely, once people have families of a certain size they are pressed for money, and life insurance is an expense that is deemed less necessary than others - understandable when pitted against expenses for current, tangible items. Of course, the flip side of this is that the devastation to the family (and by extension, the community) has that much more of an impact in a large family if chas v'shalom something happens.

In addition, the other groups I've highlighted are also a little troubling. (The single with kids group is a small sample size, however - just a handful of responses.) While it is more understandable that a family with no children or a single person living on their own might not have life insurance, that over a third of families with 1-2 children also don't have is a concern.

Again, the survey is available here; please pass it around to friends, family, shul e-mail groups, community organizations, and the like. The more data we can collect the more useful the survey can be and the greater the impact it can have. Thank you so much!


  1. How many responses have you gotten so far?

  2. Not enough. :)

    That's a good question, though.

    Hundreds, but not a lot of hundreds, which is decent for this early stage, but obviously nowhere close to where is needed to start trusting the more spliced information.

    I'm trying to work with a couple websites, get it onto some shul groups, and perhaps most likely to help, a couple of organizations. (The tricky part is doing so in a proper way and not turning into a spammer - I've always been rather turned off by spammers.) Therefore, I've been e-mailing the sites and editors one by one with personalized rather than copied and pasted letters (though of course some are similar).

    The most effective way so far has been when other individuals who took the survey have passed it along to their shul groups or friends - I'll see a sudden spike of responses from a specific area with extremely positive feedback.

    The other big push might come from a couple of organizations who've expressed interest in the results - if they can somehow help push the survey as well that would help tremendously.

  3. * by "positive feedback" I mean people who are giving detailed answers, particularly to questions at the end of the survey.

  4. How man responses in total?

  5. Ooops, just noticed anon. Never mind. I was just wondering how credible this was.

  6. Jerk - Not nearly enough yet, though as it starts to spread it's picking up steam.

    It's not meant to be scientific, at least not this time around, but it is at least showing certain trends and basic expense ranges across different communities at different stages of life.

    Even so, I'd like a couple thousand responses before asserting that it's particularly credible.

    On a simple yes/no Q such as life insurance, even hundreds of replies gives a decent idea of where things stand.

  7. Not to rain on your parade, but what makes you think that the results to this survey will be valid (even if you get as many replies as you want). Any survey needs to have a representative sample of your target population or else the results are not necessarily valid. Are you having a professional survey agency analyze the demographics and results? I may be able to recommend one if you need one (although that will probably cost money).

    Bottom line is... If the survey is not "scientific" then the results may not mean anything. I don't think that you can even say that it "shows you basic trends".

    Also, will you be sharing the raw (anonymized) data so that others can analyze it too?

  8. Agreed on just about all points, hence the push to get as many responses as possible.

    I think that it can certainly show basic trends - there's more statistical "noise", sure, but the trends and ranges are still there. Also, on many statistics, range is all there is - as opposed to an opinions poll, the likelihood of (say) prices for a 2-bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens Hills being a number outside the range that comes in in the survey is extremely low.

    I'm trying to keep costs at zero, at least for now. If at some point there's a clear opportunity for it to make money, then obviously it would be worthwhile to spend money on it.

    I actually anonymize the data before looking at it myself, and I've already shared it (as of a couple weeks ago) with an actuary friend to look at and give suggestions as to how to better analyze the data and what suggestions to think about. A couple respondents actually work with survey creation and statistics, and they also had suggestions/tips, which was really nice.

    Please feel free to e-mail me, however, and I'd like to know of professional agencies that do this to talk to (even if I'm not able to spend at the moment on such a thing).

  9. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts tonight. Been posting event info on Twitter and Facebook. I think this is info everyone should be aware of. S'koyach!