Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Average American, Part 1

Do you consider yourself to be average?

It took Kevin O'Keefe five years to discover the one person in the United States that could actually be called "the average American," and he documents his quest in his book called (what else?) The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation's Most Ordinary Citizen. Filled with more information than anyone would ever think to wonder about, O'Keefe let the people he met, plus the information from the 2000 US Census, help him develop the criterion for what makes a person "average." By the time the list was complete, there were 140 items on it.

So I thought you might like to see the list. If you want to know how any particular criteria made it onto the list, you'll find the answer in the pages of the book, and you'll likely enjoy the read. But if you just want to know how you fare, go ahead and check yourself against the list below.

One more thing. Not only should the Average American meet these 140 criterion; he must have also met them for the majority of the previous five years. Ultimately he did meet one person who met all the criterion, identifying him as "average." More about him on Friday.

I might say before I proceed that a blog with 140 items listed could be a little unwieldy, so you'll get this in three installments. You can check back tomorrow and Friday for further sections of the list. I'll throw in a bonus each day as well, something fun that I think the average person is bound to like.

Remember, these are not my criterion, and may not have been what yo would choose. But, based on them, just how average are you?

*US. or D.C. citizen
*lives in the same home as five years previously
*resident of native state
*resides in nation's most average community (which turned out to be Windham, Connecticut)
*family is "extremely" or "very" important
*high school graduate
*in paid labor force or working toward it
*has at least one married couple in home
*has offspring
*regularly in bed before midnight
*believes in God
*is Christian
*is respectful of others' religions
*attends church at least once a month
*religion is "very important" in own life
*is respectful of all races
*annual moviegoer
*lives in owner-occupied home
*resides in one house (a "one-unit, detached")
*as direct access to one or two motor vehicles
*home has garage or carport
*has driver's license
*has two to four people residing in home
*regularly wears seat belt
*household has discretionary income
*is in full-time paid labor force or retired from it
*has at least one pet
is not trying to be nationally known
*is satisfied with the way things are going in personal life
*supports current abortion laws --
*but believes the act of abortion is wrong --
*and supports the stricter enforcement of environmental regulations
*describes self as very or fairly happy
*believes money can't buy happiness
*has home valued between $100,000 and $300,000
*participates in recycling
*has fired a gun
*believes in the right to bear arms
*is against public use of semiautomatic weapons
*is in favor of registration or waiting lines for gun owners
*believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option
*has gambled with money in at least one organized game of chance in the past year
*household has a craft or hobby
*donates money to charity annually
*gives time to charity annually
*has a net worth between $30,000 and $300,000

Today's Bonus -- You can hear an interview with Kevin O'Keefe on NPR by clicking here.

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