The Mystery Graphic
I'll update this post in a day or two identifying "The Mystery Graphic" along with some more commentary. In the meantime, any guesses?
All four infographics clearly correlate with each other. The correlation between "The Mystery Graphic" and Income Mobility looks to be quite high by eye. Any causation between the four? If so, which way does the causation run?
Hey Skipper identified the source for The Mystery Graphic it in his comment on 18-Sep-2013 at 8:26 AM which he then subsequently deleted. The Mystery Graphic is the percentage of the population that's black by county. The darkest blue is used for counties that are greater than 50% black.
Personally, I think that the correlation between The Mystery Graphic and Income Mobility is the most interesting. It seems that blacks never have had, and perhaps never will have, any Income Mobility.
The first guess is racism, but as an explanation it has several holes. Whites are also prejudiced against Asians, yet Asians have higher median incomes than whites. Also, many of the ancestors of today's Chinese-Americans immigrated to work on the railroad, and were treated only a little, if any, better than the black slaves in the south. Men are accused of being prejudiced against women, but women now graduate from college at far higher rates than men. There's plenty of prejudice against Jews even today, yet no affirmative action is required there. In the middle east, Arabs sometimes seem ignorant and backwards, but Arab-Americans do quite well on average. In the last several decades, every group except blacks have had significant income mobility.
Also, if the answer is overwhelming racism, then why on earth are blacks moving back to the South? In fact, why are they staying there at all? I believe that anti-black racism is more prevalent in the South, but ultimately, money trumps racism for businesses making hiring decisions and catering to customers. You may loathe the black customer, but his money's just as green as everyone else's, and if you want it, you'll be nice enough to him. If you need to hire someone to get a job done, and the black guy can do it for a bit less than the white guy, you're going to hire the black guy.
For whatever reason, blacks have no significant income mobility, and are hugely over represented in the lower quintiles of education, earnings and opportunity. This has been the case for generations. Affirmative Action has made only the tiniest difference (and some would argue that it's not a positive difference), massive increases in spending on public education has made no difference at all (for anybody of any race), and welfare has fattened them up, but hasn't provided any additional opportunity.
They are stuck, nobody knows why, and there doesn't seem to be a solution. Bummer.