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I’m writing a paper and I’m citing a statistic which is “since 1996, there has been a 50% increase in c-sections. Now 30% of all babies are born by c-sections.” I’m trying to figure out what percentage of were c-sections prior to that 50% increase.

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Birth rates have also changed, so an increase in the absolute number of c sections doesn't have a simple relationship to the increase of relative number of c sections
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To find a percent increase, you multiply by 1+ the percentage as a decimal.

So for example if gas used to cost $2 and now it's up 50%, you would do 2\*1.50=3

This is the same idea but you're missing the first number:

x\*1.5=30

x=20
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It's ambiguous, it could either have been -20% or 20% prior to the 50% increase. Good thing we can safely eliminate on eof the possibilities

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