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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Few Infographics

Income Inequality


Poverty Rates


Income Mobility


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?

Update...

Someone had sent me the Income Mobility infographic a couple of months ago. When I saw it, it reminded me of one I saw many years ago when then Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D, N.Y.) quipped: "If you would improve your state's math scores, move your state closer to the Canadian border!" That infographic showed math scores by state and looked nearly identical to the Income Mobility one.

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.

40 comments:

Annoying Old Guy said...

What about this chart?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mystery - income percentage from agriculture.

Bret said...

aog,

Good guess, but no. I'm surprised, I actually thought you'd guess it right away. Let's see if Hey Skipper guesses.

Bret said...

Also, apologies to Clovis who admonishes us to look outside the United States.

Unfortunately, the mystery chart is somewhat unique to the United States.

Clovis e Adri said...

Well, I have no idea of the mistery one.

At first I thought about birth rates, or divorce, or something like that given our previous discussion. They look different, but they are interesting too.

AOG & H. Skipper, please take a look on this:

http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_married_w_kids.html

http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_unmarried.html

It looks like your worries of irresponsible people making babies every day is not grounded in reality.


I also thought Bret's graph could be related to use of welfare. It is not, but this is another one that may interest you guys:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/02/12/us/entitlement-map.html?src=tp&_r=0

It does track the other graphs Bret displayed.

One thing I gather from the last link above is that poverty (or at least welfare) is highly associated to rural areas (or at leats areas outside big cities). This is markedly different from Brazil, for example, where there is a great deal of poverty in cities too. This is an important enough difference to give me pause before further extending my Brazilian opinions on inequality and economy to the US.



Annoying Old Guy said...

It looks like your worries of irresponsible people making babies every day is not grounded in reality.

Um, that was your worry. You made the claim about more poverty -> more babies. I am worried about paying for them. If I don't have to pay for the babies, it's none of my business. I think it's harmful to the children in aggregate and so should not be subsidized / encouraged by society or government.

Bret;

Clovis' graph of nuclear families looks like a good match for your mystery graph, but not quite the same.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

I looked at the Married with Kids map, and couldn't help but notice that the conclusion is either extremely badly written or, and I think this far more likely, a perfect non sequitur:

A great deal of attention has been given to the alleged breakdown of the traditional family, but Census data shows that in most areas of the United States, the majority of children under eighteen live in households headed by a married couple

Here is the problem: the phrase "majority of children" is, by definition, a cardinal number. But the phrase ".. in most areas …" is, by definition not a cardinal number. And that is even before getting to the notion that a snapshot can identify a trend which, by definition, takes place over time.

I think that is a great (in a bad way) example of what happens when you let spreadsheets loose on the innumerate.

As for the second, if it shows anything, it is that parenthood nearly always assumes one of two out of four possible states: either the parents are married and the father is in the home, or they aren't and the father isn't.

It looks like your worries of irresponsible people making babies every day is not grounded in reality.

The first chart is completely useless for demonstrating anything, and the last is beside your point. What might be more pertinent is a chart showing illegitimacy by race and age. More than 70% of African American children are born to single mothers, and a healthy portion of them have children by different fathers. Neither of those things sound responsible to me.

(I can't see the NYT map, because despite being an IHT subscriber, the NYT thinks it OK that I get faced with a paywall.)

Hey Skipper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey Skipper said...

Also, why is it that income mobility is defined as moving from the bottom fifth to the top fifth?

Seems tendentious. After all, if one society has a more unequal income distribution than the another, then the change in income to get to the top fifth must be greater, and, therefore, less likely.

Which means that for a society with twice the inequality, a given increase in income over time (which is really what mobility is about) will produce much less "mobility" than the same income change in a society with less income inequality.

If I have that right, then the whole concept of income mobility is yet another concoction by the Left that can't be relied upon to say anything useful at all.

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper:

Your guess on the mystery one looks wrong, you can check them at the same Census site I've linked before:

http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhblack.html

http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhwhite.html

They clearly correlate with Bret's, but it is no news that blacks and poverty correlates much.

None of them, though, leads you to mystery graph.

Hey Skipper said...

I gave it a little more thought.

The Mystery Graphic is the illegitimate birth rate by county.

Which causes each of the other three.

Hey Skipper said...

(I deleted the previous comment, figuring I'd have a chance at a do over before anyone saw it.)

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper,

I believe you are wrong again.

I have this feeling that mystery graph is something completely unrelated, like some incidence of a natural phenomena, and Bret is justing making it a trap to take fools who believe every correlation means causation.

I guess we'll know it soon.

Bret said...

I've updated the main post.

Hey Skipper had it in the comment he subsequently deleted at 8:26.

Clovis was very close in a "mouse-click" distance. On one of the pages he linked to in one of his comments, an equivalent graph was 5 lines away and was just waiting for his mouse to click on it.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...why is it that income mobility is defined as moving from the bottom fifth to the top fifth?"

A good question, for sure.

Income mobility is a little hard to measure. I think it should only be measured for those 25 and older, maybe 30 and older, but I've been unable to find that set of statistics (though I haven't looked terribly hard). The problem is that students are often poor and then usually end up in at least the middle quintile.

But a significant percentage from all groups should end up in the upper quintile. We're not talking the 1% here, we're only talking about the top 20%.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...Bret is justing making it a trap to take fools..."

That would be something I'd do, but not in this case.

Bret said...

Clovis,

You had it actually:

http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhblack.html

Mine just has more resolution.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

Where did you get yours with greater resolution?


One interesting graph I've found, while trying to solve your puzzle, ewas the obesity and diabetes map:

http://hhpblog.s3.amazonaws.com/blog/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Obesity-diabetes.jpg

It also correlates well with your other ones. Which is not intuitive within my US experience: I've seen many white fat people too!
That's even more of a mystery for myself than the one you posed in your update, Bret :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper:

It is fair to assign you the prize for this one, even though you deleted your right guess (maybe my fault).


Bret:

You mystery point invites, at first look, a discussion on why blacks have been achieving less in those math scores.

An obvious point is the high correlation of poor areas and bad schools - see that many of the other minorities you cited did not share the same schools used by blacks in almost black-only areas.

Another point that may enter, although polemical, has to do with genetics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_race_and_intelligence_controversy

Recently, James Watson got in a very bad mood due to his remarks on the topic, as you may be aware.

Anyway, I do not think the math scores (and the above points) are really at the heart of the matter. People can do very well in life without math - I even risk to say that if you love too much math and science, chances are you may end up being not that well paid, even more if you choose to go for academia (sorry, I should not let personal feelings enter in the argument here :-)

What may count more is what people call nowadays emotional intelligence. There are studies indicating that your structure of learning (e.g. neuronal connections) and of coping with adverse situations may be greatly influenced by negative experiences at your earlier stages of life. And, what is more astonishing, there are some indications those traumatic settings keep correlations with the "intelligence" of your offspring.

So, in a partial vindication of H. Skipper's conservative opinions, it may be that the best causation chain for all graphs above is the lack of care (emotional and physical) black children may disproportionately endure, due to the lack of supportive parents (or of parents at all).


Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Where did you get yours with greater resolution?"

I got my higher (or at least different) resolution one here:

http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/all-counties/black-population-percentage

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "... is the lack of care (emotional and physical) black children may disproportionately endure, due to the lack of supportive parents (or of parents at all)."

Quite plausible and even Politically Correct. Ascribe nothing at all to nature and everything to nurture. A cycle of poverty and despair with the key point in the cycle being children who grow up into parents who are incapable of providing emotional and physical support to their children, starting the cycle afresh.

Interestingly, the supportive parent theory has been tested, with controversial, mixed, and/or inconclusive results, depending on who you ask.

IQ is mostly heritable, though as you point out, IQ may not be critically important to success, though it correlates positively with job performance and negatively with crime and other anti-social behaviors.

Nonetheless, even if we go with your hypothesis of the cause, there is no solution.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

---
Quite plausible and even Politically Correct. Ascribe nothing at all to nature and everything to nurture.
---
I beg to differ - maybe it is my fault, but I think you did not get me above. It is both nature and nurture, but in ways we previously did not understand, or even thought possible.

I will try to describe using my bad memory and no references for lack of time now, but I'll be happy to search for and provide them later on.

There has been a little revoution in genetics and evolutionary biology as of late. You may even call it "Lamarckism's revenge". Contrary to every belief we had on how only *genetic* characteristics are ihnerited, a few interesting experiments have been showing that some not genetical characteristics can also pass on to immediate next generations.

For example, there have been demonstrations that very similar female rats, subject to "poor" and "rich" enviroments, can greatly influence on the "IQ" of their offspring, in ways that would be difficult to ascribe to genetics only. [I am wording it in very non-technical terms, so please take care here].

The mechanisms for so are not very well understood, but it may involve external influences activating different genetic combinations, among other things.

Other developments - these now reported directly in humans - have been showing that, literally, neuronal connections related to what we loosely call emotional intelligence are greatly influenced by early infancy experiences. In ways that further influence hormonal development, cerebral development, and so on.

But beware, it is not only about nurture, for when you sum up both developments above, you may conclude that the mechanisms through which genetic activation of your offspring characteristics develop have influences, not known before (and not really yet understood now), on the history of the mother. If it does not sound astonishing to you, you probably did not pay attention to our previous genetic paradigms.

We do not know if, and how far, this correlation goes to the next generations. But it is far to assume that your supportive parent theory study deals with i) first generation (so children still subject to the above effect) and ii) it really woudl need a larger scale than they had to conclude much.


If the above things look too much Politically Correct to you, please take care to not let your personal feelings enter the science room.


Now, on the IQ scores - e.g. results indicating black populations scoring demonstrably lower - it is interesting to notice that the above mechanisms would at least partially explain it.

What is not usually noticed by naive adherents of genetics-only influences (the pro nature in the "nature X nurture" debate) is that the difference in the IQ scores are very small compared to the differences in the real life results - it is too small an effect to account for it all even when you take notice of the correlations you point out (job performance, crime, etc).


---
Nonetheless, even if we go with your hypothesis of the cause, there is no solution.
---
Again, I beg to differ. We have advanced so far because we developed good ways (e.g. the scientific method!) to identify problems in nature and try to influence the outcomes in our favor.

The belief of "no solution" is probably part pessimism, part fear of footing any future bill to attack the problem properly. I believe both feelings are not part of what made America what it is today, and this retreat from the old American boldness and ingenuity is, IMHO, far more prejudicial than all the welfare state you guys dislike so much.

Hey Skipper said...

As for deleting my comment, I had quickly posted it just before getting in the shower, where I often do my best thinking. Within seconds, I decided the chart had to be illegitimate birth rates, because you said cause, not correlation.

Anyway, I didn't see Clovis's post at the bottom when I got out of the shower, and figured I'd delete without cluttering things up.

Bad choice.

Anyway, I'll bet a chart of illegitimacy would look very much like the one for race. Consequently, I think it is more accurate to say illegitimacy causes reduced income mobility and increased inequality and poverty, whereas race is correlated with, but does not cause, illegitimacy.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] Income mobility is a little hard to measure.

Besides the mathematical issue I already noted, there is a proxy problem.

For [reasons] blacks are far more likely to be in the lowest quintile and engage in behaviors -- e.g., extremely high illegitimacy rate -- that are inimical to income mobility.

So when someone on the Left uses our relative lack of income mobility as an attack on how our economy is organized, to at least some, and probably a significant degree, what that someone is actually talking about is entrenched social pathology.

For which the Left bears no small responsibility for creating.

If I'm right on this, then the Left is once again guilty of either possessing far fewer brains than they need to be on the Left, or every bit as much malfeasance as being on the Left requires.

Tough choice, that one.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "I think it is more accurate to say illegitimacy causes reduced income mobility and increased inequality and poverty..."

Unfortunately, reduced income mobility and inequality and poverty may also be a root cause of illegitimacy, making it a vicious circle. Even more unfortunately, it may not be the lack of money, but rather the lack of economic opportunity that motivates illegitimacy. That would be something that even increasing welfare benefits wouldn't solve.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "The belief of "no solution" is ... part fear of footing any future bill to attack the problem properly."

Until there's at least a small experiment or two showing significant, long-term improvement in outcomes by some reasonable and at least somewhat objective measure, there's no significant bill to foot, is there? I mean surely you're not proposing some massive pre-natal, post-natal, and early childhood intervention across all at-risk members of the population until there's at least a little proof that it might help and not hurt?

Let me rephrase. As far as I know, there is no known solution to the problem at present. There hasn't been a solution for generations of trying. I personally doubt there will be a proven solution in my lifetime, but hopefully I'm wrong.

Hey Skipper said...

Unfortunately, reduced income mobility and inequality and poverty may also be a root cause of illegitimacy, making it a vicious circle.

No, it isn't. One of those three things can be stopped.

One is cause, the other two effects.

Put another way, if some perfectly deluded fool was to make me God for a day, my only omnipotent act would be to make all women infertile until age 24.

I predict that the consequence would be less poverty , which alone would mean less inequality. And because more of those young women would graduate high school, less poverty also.

And because those women would be more attractive mates, they would also be in the most important position of all: to civilize men.

Thereby making them better, and more attractive, fathers...

And yet the Left heaps opprobrium on conservatives.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

The other day I've seen Krugman pointing to an article in The Economist:

"Suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions; they cannot be got rid of; and the impatient efforts of benevolence to banish them from the world by legislation, before benevolence has learned their object and their end, have always been more productive of evil than good."

It sounds very much like some comments here against welfare.

Unfortunately, I can not provide a link to that Economist column, it was published in 1848 in an article arguing against a publicly funded system of sewers. Last time I've been in London the city smelled OK (most of the time).

I do not know how we will solve the above problems in the long run, but I believe they will not be part of most societies in a few hundred years.


H. Skipper:

I am very much for reducing children's exposure to lack of parenting, but I thanks God for not giving you his chair for a minute. Your single omnipotent act would very probably extinguish humanity in the long run...

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...in a few hundred years..."

Ummm, well, yes, that is a bit beyond the time horizon I usually consider. But, hey, you're a physicist so that sort of time scale is just a blink of an eye for you. In a few million years, we'll be a different species (or extinct) and it'll all be moot. :-)

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: 'IMO, your logic here is "we are Jews, we are Americans, we love American, hence America is the best place for Jews!".'

That's probably the best I can do. Internally, I believe there's a bit more to it than that, but it's based more on nebulous feelings than any easily elucidatable set of logical facts. Hey, we're talkin' religion here, even if I don't subscribe to the deity and most of the dogma.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

---
Hey, we're talkin' religion here, even if I don't subscribe to the deity and most of the dogma.
---
Which begs the question, what do you ascribe to Jews who no longer follow the regilion nor much of the culture, as intrinsically "Jewish"?

I've once asked that for a Rabbi. He did not answer.

Bret said...

Clovis asks: '...what do you ascribe to Jews who no longer follow the regilion nor much of the culture, as intrinsically "Jewish"?'

I don't think there's a concrete answer and it probably varies a lot by individual, but let me give some examples.

1. There's a sense of familiarity when I end up in a jewish semi-religious setting such as a wedding or a bar/bat mitzvah. I know the songs, the prayers, and the order of everything. The songs and prayers don't resonate with me in a religious sense, but they do in the sense of tradition and familiarity. Sort of in the "these are the same things that my ancestors have done for thousands of years" sense.

2. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, neither religiously. Christmas is the excuse to exchange gifts and have a tree (I love the smell of a pine tree in the house), and Hanukkah to light candles (but not to close to the tree!) and once again, follow the tradition of my ancestors.

3. The jewish community, at least here in San Diego, generally reaches out and includes non-religious jews like myself whenever possible. So I have a slight feeling of belonging to that group.

4. Because I was raised by those who were raised by those who were raised ... in the jewish tradition, there's no doubt that at least some of my basic morality and outlook have a jewish aspect to them.

So I have a cultural affinity, just not a religious affinity. A rabbi could've easily pointed out 3 & 4, but probably not 1 & 2 as those are personal.

Hey Skipper said...

Your single omnipotent act would very probably extinguish humanity in the long run...

No single act, neither God's nor mine, will be required. It seems that women, given education and a choice, want children. Just not very many.

Total fertility rate is falling faster in more places than demographers can keep up with.

Japan's TLF is 1.3 children per woman. If that rate continues, and there is no indication it won't, then in less than 100 years, Japan's population will be 15% of what it is now.

European TLF is about the same. If rest of the world follows Europe's lead -- and all the signs are that it will -- mathematical models predict a world population of 3.5 billion by 2150. (My cruder math got that number in 320 years, and less than a million in 1600 years, yet another reason I don't stay awake nights worrying about whatever global warming is called these days.)

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper:

Yes, this is the point: as much as you may dislike young woman having children in non-ideal conditions, it is basically what still makes mankind to keep growing.

The natural birth rate needed - in very good conditions - to keep a population in stead numbers is 2.1 per woman. Which means that, if you have less than 3 kids, you are collaborating to our extinction. And since you are complaining so much about your fellow poor Americans who keep having more than that, you are double working for our extinction. Maybe to be a conservative is a new type of contribution to genocide :-)

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...if you have less than 3 kids, you are collaborating to our extinction."

My wife & I would've had another child if it weren't for such high taxes and so many regulations. :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

Yes, the welfare / regulatory state rewards reproduction by those dependent on the state and punishes that by those who fund the state. That's not smart and is unsustainable in the long run.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

See it as healthy market competition. Government is taking your money away and giving it to people more productive at baby making business :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

See, that's what statists never seem to grasp about capitalism / free markets - they are the mechanisms of consent. Taking your money is what a government does, not competition.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] And since you are complaining so much about your fellow poor Americans who keep having more than that, you are double working for our extinction. Maybe to be a conservative is a new type of contribution to genocide.

I am complaining about conditions, not quantity. I am complaining about the left's fixation on confiscating more from the well off than addressing why so many are poor.

And you are posing a false dichotomy: the choice is not between more children born into intact families or fewer children.

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper:

I was not posing a dichotomy, I was only trying a joke. When I use a ":-)" I am not really making an argument - in the old times of the begin of internet, standard netiquette implied so. AOG, with its jurassic knowledge of all things computer, should know that before offering me the above lesson on capitalism.