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To the Editors of American Demographics:

I've heard on more than one occasion that approximately 50 percent of airline pilots in North America will retire over the next 5 to 10 years. This sounds like a staggering statistic to me, yet when I ask people about the source of the information, they can't cite one. Do you have any concrete data on the demographics of pilots?

Charlie Kim

Portfolio manager


Vancouver, B.C.


Dear Charlie:

Reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) do, at least in part, substantiate what you've heard. According to the BLS, many pilots who were hired in the late 1960s are rapidly approaching the mandatory retirement age that applies to all pilots who operate planes for airlines such as Delta, American and Northwest. (Pilots of smaller aircraft, such as corporate jets and crop dusters, are not bound by the same rules.) As a result of this group's impending retirement and the growth of the aviation industry overall, an estimated 2,600 openings for new pilots are expected each year between now and 2008.

But fear not. The BLS anticipates no problems in getting enough applicants to fill those positions. First, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports there are some 625,000 individuals around the world who are certified to fly U.S. registered aircraft, though according to the BLS only 117,000 of them are Americans who fly planes or helicopters for a living.

Next, take into account the generous salaries earned by professional pilots: The BLS reports that in 2000, the median annual salary of airline pilots was $110,940, with more than a quarter of them earning more than $145,000 a year. Add to that the perk of free or low-cost travel, and there should be more than enough applicants. Actually, the competition — in spite of the large number of job openings — could even be quite fierce.

What might the competitors look like? While the vast majority of pilots today are men, a significant number of women are likely to be in the running for future positions. According to BLS data, 3 out of every 100 pilots in 2001 (3.5 percent) were female. That number may sound low, but consider that women outnumber blacks and Hispanics in the cockpit by a ratio greater than 2-to-1. And when you look at the gender of pilots by their age, the story grows even more compelling: The chance that a pilot will be a woman is 6.7 percent among pilots 25- to 34-years-old. And when it comes to professional pilots ages 20 to 24, fully a third are of the female persuasion.

“Come in tower 1, she's ready for takeoff.�


To the Editors of American Demographics:

I have found it difficult to find detailed information on beer drinkers. Specifically, I'm looking for the percentage of the U.S. adult population that drinks super-premium beers (Guinness, Samuel Adams, Bass, Killian's, Corona, Heineken, etc.) and their demographic profile — including age, education, gender, income and leisure activities. Also, are there any differences among super-premium beer drinkers, premium beer drinkers and domestic beer drinkers when it comes to demographics?

Gabriel Nicolae

San Diego, Calif.

Dear Gabriel:

Kick back and crack open a cold one. We've got just what you need to understand the super-premium beer drinker. Using data from New York City-based market research firm Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI), we generated a profile of those who are either sole or primary drinkers of George Killian's, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Amstel (1870 and Light), Bass, Beck's, Beck's Dark, Carlsberg, Corona (Extra and Light), Dos Equis, Guinness, Heineken and Heineken Dark beers. (While other beers might be included in the super premium category, for convenience sake, we limited our analysis to these 15 leading brands.) What we found is that of the 43 percent of Americans who drank any beer in the past six months, fully a third (33 percent) identified at least one of the previously listed brews as their hop of choice.

Of those who primarily imbibe a super-premium beer, 12 percent are under the age of 25, and 41 percent are younger than 35. (Even though a decent number of people under 21 admitted to MRI to having consumed a super-premium beer, only those survey respondents age 21 and older — some 51,000 adults — were included in our analysis of the market.) According to MRI, the average age of drinkers of super-premium beer in the U.S. is 40, that's three years younger than the average age for all beer drinkers (43) and a whole six years younger than the average age of the total U.S. population (46).

While frat parties are primarily known for tapping keg after keg of cheap beer, let it be noted that individuals who have attended college are actually 12 percent more likely than the average American to drink super-premium beers. And attending graduate school makes one 51 percent more likely to reach for the good stuff. As with the entire beer drinking population, men outnumber women in the super-premium crowd 6-to-4, or 62 percent versus 38 percent.

The typical super-premium beer consumer earns significantly more per year than the average American. Specifically, individuals who kick back Corona, Carlsberg, et al. earn on average $44,236 a year, compared with the average individual, who earns almost seven grand less ($37,294). The disparity is even greater when we examine overall household earnings. Super-premium beer- drinking households typically clear $73,544 annually versus the average household, which makes only $57,046 a year. After all, how many mansions in Beverly Hills do you think stock Pabst Blue Ribbon?

Of course, anyone could tell you that people who drink super-premium beers are likely to go out to bars or nightclubs, play pool and eat out. Let us be the first to suggest that a super premium might be an equally apropos beverage for kite flying, chess playing and Internet surfing. According to MRI, super-premium beer drinkers are 56 percent more likely than the average American to fly kites, 102 percent more likely to play chess and 58 percent more likely to surf the Web in their spare time.


With 20 years of experience, the average airline captain is 47 years old and earns $150,000 a year.

Captain 47 20 $150,000
First officer/copilot 38 8 $93,000
Second officer/flight engineer* 43 7 $85,000
*Does not pilot plane, but must maintain proficiency as a pilot. Source: Air Line Pilots Association


Drinkers of leading super-premium beers are decidedly younger, richer and more female than primary or sole drinkers of the leading popular or premium beers.*

Mean age 45 42 40
Mean household income $49,312 $58,681 $73,544
Percent female 31% 32% 38%
*Popular beers include Busch, Old Milwaukee, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Keystone. Premium beers include Budweiser, Coors, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Michelob, Michelob Dry and Michelob Golden Draft. Super-premium beers include George Killian's, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Amstel (1870 and Light), Bass, Beck's, Beck's Dark, Carlsberg, Corona (Extra and Light), Dos Equis, Guinness, Heineken and Heineken Dark beers.
Source: Mediamark Research, Inc., 2001


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