Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"Low Education Whites Dying Younger" May Be a Statistical Artifact, Not A Real Worsening

It has been widely reported that low-educated whites have had increased mortality at younger ages, reversing the decades-long trend of all groups living longer in the U.S.  Indeed, the "decline of the white working class" has been the main explanation of who the Trump voters are.

However, this Slate piece points to another possible explanation: the "low-education white" population has changed over time, with the healthier getting more education (and thus moving out of the "less than high school" category).

This takes us into the statistical weeds, and is not a sure thing.  What might have happened is this:

White people who did not finish high school have always been less healthy than more educated white people.  Nonetheless, for a long time, white people of all levels of education have been living longer.  Recently, though, "less than high school whites" started dying younger.  This could mean that this whole group is actually dying younger - they are less healthy, are smoking, drinking, and taking drugs  more (especially opioids), and are committing suicide more.

However, it could also be that the healthiest part of the group of low-education white people used to stop before high school graduation, but now they finish high school.  Even if the overall longevity of these people stayed the same, by using "less than high school" as the dividing line, it appears that the least educated are also dying younger.

As evidence, this article cites a paper which found that if we look at the lowest quartile of whites, there has been no decline in longevity.  It could be that, a generation ago, much of the lowest quartile of whites did not finish high school, so these two categories were very similar.  Now, with more people finishing high school, the "less than" group is smaller and composed of the worst off (who die sooner), while a rising portion of the lowest quartile are now high school graduates.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Immigration is Good For America

Tuesdays on WKYB I get to talk, mostly about happiness.

Immigrants are great for America.  They improve the economy at the bottom and the top.  They commit less crime.  They pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. They have a higher fertility rate, which we need in an era of below-replacement fertility.

Some demagogues play on fears about immigrants, citing some scary stories.  They do not, though, show the proportions of crime, welfare use, and other scary things that immigrants produce compared to the native population.

Much of the illegality of illegal immigrants comes from their immigration status.  If we had an easy guest worker program, then they could live and work here above board.  This would prevent them from undermining wages, and make them more likely to cooperate with the authorities on all manner of civil order tasks.

The current ban on some immigrants, and the widespread fears of coming here that the administration has generated among all foreigners, has already hurt us in tourism, in foreign students, and in the kinds of workers we are trying to attract.

Let's go back to e pluribus unum and welcome immigrants.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Raising Kids in the Boburb

I am studying how what I call "boburbs" - bourgeois bohemian city neighborhoods - compare with suburbs.  Right now I am trying to figure out what the distinctive ideals of each kind of neighborhood would be.

The suburban ideal is driven by the nurture of children.  As such it is fundamentally an honorable ideal. 

Bohemias and boburbs are primarily for childless people, and their neighborhood projects are adult oriented.  

Still, there is an ideal of human development as "cosmopolitan citizens" that leads some parents to include children and child rearing into the boburb project.  They are not just finding a way to raise kids in the city, they embrace it as a better way for the kids.  This is especially true for adolescents.  

This is a higher risk, but higher payoff, form of adolescent rearing.