Archives for posts with tag: Southern US

America is a Christian Nation. Of course it’s not in any official or legal sense, but statistically, the US remains a majority Christian nation. Americans are also more likely than most other industrialized nations to say that religion is “very important” (source). The latest surveys put Christians at 76% of the total population of the US, with 51% of Americans being Protestant and 25% being Catholic (source).

While the US has a high percentage of Christians, the percentage of adult Christians has dropped 10% from 1990 to 2008 (same source as before). At the same time, the population claiming No Religious Affiliation has grown rapidly, from 8.2% of the US in 1990 to 15% in 2008. From 1990 to 2001 the population of “Nones” (as the ARIS terms it) more than doubled. Now there are ten times as many Nones as there are Latter Day Saints in the US. The makers of the ARIS survey claim that within 20 years Americans with no religious affiliation could make up 20% of the US (source). Other polling agencies have corroborated these findings with similar results; according to Gallup, 16% of Americans now claim no religious identity (source). Finally, the biggest losers in religious growth have been Mainline Protestant groups, and to an extent the Catholic Church, according to the ARIS survey. There is an important note to make on Catholics in the US: Catholics are leaving the church and being replaced by latinos, at least nationally. As such the ARIS notes:

“Religious switching along with Hispanic immigration has significantly changed the religious profile of some states and regions. Between 1990  and 2008, the Catholic population proportion of the New England states fell from 50% to 36% and in New York it fell from 44% to 37%, while it rose in California from 29% to 37% and in Texas from 23% to 32%.” (source)

What I found more interesting in these surveys was how the national data broke down geographically. An earlier source (the Ipsos MORI survey) that Americans are rank religion’s importance higher than most industrialized countries (source), but this varies widely depending on what part of the US is surveyed. Gallup has a great summary of their findings on this matter: When asked “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” 65% of Americans said Yes while 34% said No. This cannot be directly compared to the Ipsos MORI survey because the question is worded differently. Instead we can simply state that Ipsos MORI found that 86% of US Christians find religion important while 66% of worldwide Christians found religion important (source).

Getting back to the importance of religion in the US, here is a map of the US showing religiosity and an accompanying chart comparing states:

One finds the least religious states in the West and the Northeastern parts of the US. here’s a look at the percentages:

A complete list of US States by importance of religion can be found here.

Another great breakdown of religious adherence in the US comes from a USA Today infographic on the matter. The page allows you to mouse over results and makes navigating the data easier, unfortunately it is not possible to imbed it on this website. Instead, I can upload some of the most interesting graphs as pictures here:

The rise of the Nones was most pronounced in the Northeast, where this article oddly places DC and Delaware in the South, I think they belong in the Northeast. The South saw No Religion grow the least. How about Catholicism?

Here we see the biggest growth in Catholics has been in states with high immigration from Latin America, like Arizona, Texas, and California. Every state in the Northeast and all but one state in Midwest has seen a decline in Catholic-identifying people. Things look worse from the remaining denominations of Christianity in the US:

Only Rhode Island and Louisiana saw growth here. Louisiana is interesting because it saw a 16% decline in Catholic-identified people during the same time, perhaps they converted to Protestantism or more likely, Hurricane Katrina reshaped the demographics of the state.

So where to most of the Nones in the US live?

Unfortunately one has to mouse over the bubbles to see the percentages, I can say that 34% of Vermont’s population identifies with no religion, while only 5% of Mississippi’s population does. Feel free to look at the infographic for complete results.

Something that surprised me was how many Northeastern states rank high on this list. The Western US has been labeled the “Unchurched Belt” yet many Northeastern states are less religious than California, or Arizona, for example. This may be due to a historic irreligiosity that the Western US states showed before the Northeast caught up. Here is a ranking of No Religion by state in 1990:

Here we see why the US West was considered the “Unchurched” part of America. Even Utah had a higher percentage of Nones than most non-Western states.

So what does all of this mean for the US, is America turning into an atheistic country? apparently not, according to polls of America’s Nones; a full 51% of US Nones believe in a God or a higher power. I think a better question is what effects will the surge in US irreligion have on the Culture War in the US today. One of the biggest issues relating to the Culture War in the US is gay rights. Gallup has a great article that summarizes Americans views on this. They found that for the first time in the US, the majority of respondents believe that gay/lesbian relations are morally acceptable. About 60% of men and women aged 18 to 49 find gay/lesbian relations acceptable, while only 44% of respondents over 50 find it acceptable. But this distinction pales in comparison to the importance of religion. Gallup found that 85% of No Religion respondents (Nones) find gay/lesbian relations acceptable. 62% of Catholics find it acceptable while only 42% of Protestants do. This makes the delta between US Protestants (51% of the US population) and the Nones (15% of the US population) more than 2 to 1, or 43%.

One of the most recent electoral outcomes relating to this was California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in 2008. The poll divided people on religious lines. One poll from the PRRI found that on Proposition 8:

“Solid majorities of Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants, along with a majority of white Catholics, would now vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, while solid majorities of African American Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, and Latino Protestants report that they would vote to keep same-sex marriage illegal.”

With this I want to conclude with an idea: maybe the lines of the US Culture War aren’t drawn between Red States and Blue States, maybe they’re drawn between the most religious Protestants and the Nones. It was hard to find statistics on Evangelical denominations of Protestant Christianity, but I’d bet its somewhere around half of the Protestant population in the US. That means that in 20 years, if the ARIS projections hold, the US will find itself culturally divided, with the Nones and conservative Protestants making up 40% of the population, the rest could be dominated by more moderate Catholics and mainline Protestants. If the “importance of religion” poll indicates anything, perhaps instead of Red and Blue states. the US is most culturally divided between the irreligious West and Northeast against the South and parts of the Midwest, where religion is more important to people.

One thing I’ve always been impressed with was regional identity in Rap music. Regional identity is not uncommon in other genres of music but it seems especially present in Rap (or hip hop but I hate calling it that). I don’t listen to or care about Hardcore music or other genres to be able to explain their regional variation/identity but I’ve found some interesting things w-r-t rap in the US.

I feel like I did an adequate job defining most rap regions, I’m not 100% sure Norcal should have gotten its own region and not Detroit/Pittsburgh but giving a single city a region seemed unfair. At the same time, most East Coast comes from NYC and most West Coast comes from LA. Tell me what you think.

Here’s a list of really cool albums/tracks in the rap/hip hop genre

Low Budget – Crunk in Yo System (seriously the best comp for southern rap)

The Weeknd – House of Balloons (indie hip hop)

Wiz Khalifa – Youngin’ on his grind.

Big K.R.I.T. – Country Shit (Remix) ft. Ludacris & Bun B.

more to come

recently I wrote about the trend of low HDI scores in the US South and Appalachia. This time I want to focus on a metric found from the same source. The metric of life expectancy from birth is actually a good way of comparing US congressional districts to other countries.

The CIA World Factbook has a listing of most nations’ average life expectancy from birth here. It’s important to note that because this is an actual year-based estimate, the rankings for congressional districts and countries is tightly ranked, and misreporting statistics from developing countries is a possibility. I want to stress that these are averages so while someone living 2 years less might not seem like much, but this is the result of everyone in a district/country living longer or shorter lives. Some of these statistics will make you question the world.

While I’ll mention the regional disparity briefly, I’d like to focus on the comparison of life expectancy with certain US congressional districts (CDs) and other countries as well.

Here is a map of the bottom 100 CDs in the US:

Many things stand out compared to the HDI graph representing the bottom 100, though the US South+Appalachia region is similarly represented in this map.

Firstly, the West Coast does considerably better than the East Coast, with only a single CD making the list west of Texas. Second, cities in many Eastern States have lower comparative life expectancies than their HDI suggests. Regions of the Rust Belt including North Ohio and the Detroit metro area score poorly. The mid-Atlantic cities Philadelphia and Baltimore do poorly, but the rest of the Northeast does well.

This map shows the bottom 25 districts in the US, these districts only live 72 to to 75 years on average (I’ll provide a complete table of average life expectancy later).

Much like the bottom 25 districts by HDI, the bottom 25 in life expectancy are almost all inside the US South and Appalachian regions. The Mississippi embayment and the Kentucky-West Virginia border are the worst hit.

Here is a listing of the bottom 100 districts by age. But I’ve added a column for countries with similar life expectancies for the bottom 50. I got these numbers here and here.

West Virgini 3 72.9 Egypt 72.66
Kentucky 5 73.6  Thailand 73.6
Mississippi 2 73.6 Bulgaria 73.59
Alabama 4 74.3 Serbia 74.32
Pennsylvania 2 74.4 Mauritius 74.48
Oklahoma 2 74.5 Algeria 74.5
Pennsylvania 1 74.5 Colombia 74.55
Georgia 2 74.6 China 74.68
Alabama 3 74.7 Syria 74.69
Alabama 7 74.7 Cook Islands 74.7
Louisiana 7 74.8 Hungary 74.79
Arkansas 1 74.8 Tunisia 75.01
Tennessee 8 75.0 Lebanon 75.01
Tennessee 9 75.0 West Bank 75.01
Mississippi 3 75.0  Macedonia 75.14
North Caroli 1 75.0 Tonga 75.16
Louisiana 5 75.0 ” “
Arkansas 4 75.1 ” “
Georgia 1 75.1 ” “
Missouri 8 75.1 ” “
Alabama 1 75.1 ” “
Georgia 8 75.1 ” “
Mississippi 4 75.2 ” “
South Caroli 6 75.3 Lithuania 75.34
Florida 4 75.3 ” “
Louisiana 4 75.3 ” “
Mississippi 1 75.4 Antigua and Barbuda 75.48
Georgia 12 75.4 ” “
Arkansas 2 75.4 ” “
Michigan 13 75.4 ” “
Michigan 14 75.4 ” “
Kentucky 1 75.5 ” “
Maryland 7 75.5 ” “
Louisiana 6 75.5 ” “
District of Columbia 75.6 ” “
Louisiana 1 75.6 ” “
Oklahoma 4 75.6 ” “
South Caroli 5 75.7  Ecuador 75.73
Louisiana 3 75.7 Croatia 75.79
Alabama 2 75.7
Alabama 6 75.7
Tennessee 1 75.7
Virginia 9 75.7
West Virgini 2 75.9  Morocco 75.9
Louisiana 2 75.9
Tennessee 4 75.9
Oklahoma 5 76.0  Poland 76.05
North Caroli 7 76.0
Oklahoma 3 76.0
Oklahoma 1 76.0
Virginia 3 76.0
Alabama 5 76.1
Texas 1 76.1
Ohio 6 76.2
Kentucky 4 76.3
Illinois 12 76.3
South Caroli 3 76.3
Texas 13 76.4
Tennessee 7 76.4
Virginia 4 76.5
Georgia 3 76.5 Mexico 76.47
Texas 8 76.5
Michigan 5 76.6
Tennessee 6 76.6
Kentucky 3 76.6
Tennessee 3 76.6
Indiana 7 76.6
Texas 5 76.6
Michigan 11 76.7
North Caroli 10 76.7
Missouri 5 76.7
West Virgini 1 76.7
North Caroli 3 76.7
South Caroli 4 76.7
Texas 19 76.8
North Caroli 8 76.8
Texas 2 76.8
Georgia 11 76.9
Ohio 15 76.9
North Caroli 2 76.9
Maryland 3 76.9
Indiana 1 76.9
California 2 76.9
Georgia 10 76.9
Maryland 2 77.0
Ohio 17 77.0
Ohio 9 77.0
Missouri 4 77.1
North Caroli 5 77.1
Virginia 5 77.1
Kansas 4 77.1
Indiana 8 77.1
Wisconsin 4 77.2
Missouri 3 77.2
Tennessee 2 77.2
Ohio 10 77.2
Ohio 11 77.2
Tennessee 5 77.2
Indiana 6 77.2
Texas 14 77.2

Surprisingly, many countries perform better than US congressional districts. Eastern Kentucky has the same life expectancy of someone in Thailand, think about that for a second. Not only are parts of the US much lower than the US average, they’re actually much lower than most developed countries. The US  ranks 50th overall on the CIA World Factbook, th0ugh a number of meaningless micro-states and dependent territories distort this ranking somewhat. US life expectancy raises many important questions about access to healthcare and our dietary habits among other things.

Finally, I want to point out that some of these statistics are hard to accept. Jordan ranks higher than the Netherlands, for example. and Bosnia, despite its violent recent history has a higher life expectancy than Denmark. I’m not necessarily accusing these countries of outright dishonesty, but perhaps their methodology was vulnerable to inaccuracies. There are hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Jordan, many of them weren’t born in hospitals so its possible that age estimates could be wrong. This isn’t the first time I’ve suspected this, in a much earlier blog on female literacy I found that the country of Georgia claims 100% literacy, despite having a GDP per capita lower than Syria, and a very rare and complicated language, in addition to smaller languages like Tsez being spoken. Take these statistics for what you will, its intriguing no less.

Unfortunately this isn’t a subject where I can compare countries and their regions to other countries. Instead, here is a selection of articles and related maps that deal with the problem of uneven growth across various counties. I want to stress that these graphs use different measurements from different time periods and thus cannot be compared with each other. I will provide links for the maps I use and give a brief summary of the research that corresponds with them.

The first example I would like to present is from a familiar source, the USA. here we can use a brilliant website designed by social/political scientists to display a variety of statistics relating to US development. using measureofamerica.org you can access an HDI map of the US that is divisible to the congressional district level. here is a state level map of the US using their latest dataset.

I got this map here it covers most US cultural regions that I accept with its omission of Appalachia NOTWITHSTANDING.

look at measure of america. wow here is the HDI of the US

this website is really interesting.

Look at what happens when you gauge obesity and diabetes in the USA:

This shows a tendency of Appalachia and southern US states to be have comparatively bad health. The West and New England do well here. How about Diabetes?

between these two maps, the unhealthiness of Appalachia stays strong. What are they doing wrong?

Diane Sawyer has some ideas about this

here are some other maps from Appalachian Regional Commission 

This shows college completion rates in the region and compares it to the US average.

Another troubled area represented on the HDI map is the US South. Breaking the region down by Congressional District allows us to look closer at regional disparity by showing disparity inside states.

Using the HDI data from our earlier source, lets see what the bottom 100 US Congressional districts look like:

It’s important to note that the bottom 100 districts is an arbitrary measure and many districts with similar HDI values were excluded. Nonetheless it includes the important bottom quintile with about 10 districts from the next lowest quintile. It also provides us with nearly a quarter of the 437 US congressional districts so I went with it. This map took a long time to make so please feel free to verify my findings here

In many states there are examples of urban poverty as well as rural/agrarian poverty being represented. In my region (Pacific Northwest) the eastern districts in Oregon and Washington are examples of rural poverty. NYC provides an intriguing example of urban poverty. The district NY-16 is one of the lowest HDI scores in the US, it sits nearly adjacent to NY-14, the district with the highest score in the US. The difference in the scores (8.79 vs 3.20) shows how geography can mean little when defining a region’s development.

But while NY-14 sticks out, it pales in comparison to the overwhelming poverty of the US South+Appalachia. To corroborate my view of the US South look to this wikipedia page

Of the 100 lowest HDI scores, this combined region contributes 59 districts (59%). When you count the bottom 50 this region contributes 30 (60%).

But when you count only the bottom 25 you get a staggering 20 Southern+Appalachian districts or 80% of the bottom 25. This map illustrates the disparity:


  Here’s a chart of the 100 lowest HDI scores and my Southern+Appalachian selections in red:

California

20

2.60

Kentucky   

5

2.82

West Virgini

3

3.16

New York

16

3.20

Texas

29

3.23

Missouri   

8

3.24

Oklahoma   

2

3.33

Mississippi

2

3.34

Alabama    

4

3.37

Arkansas   

1

3.39

Alabama    

7

3.46

Kentucky   

1

3.50

Tennessee  

4

3.50

Virginia   

9

3.50

Arkansas   

4

3.50

South Caroli

6

3.52

Louisiana  

5

3.52

North Caroli

1

3.53

Georgia    

2

3.55

Alabama    

3

3.61

Georgia    

12

3.66

Louisiana  

2

3.68

Tennessee  

8

3.69

California

34

3.69

Arizona

4

3.70

California

18

3.73

Texas

15

3.74

California

31

3.78

Texas

28

3.78

California

43

3.80

Illinois

4

3.80

Tennessee  

1

3.81

Pennsylvania

1

3.86

Florida    

3

3.86

Louisiana  

7

3.87

Texas

27

3.88

Texas      

1

3.89

Texas

30

3.90

Texas

13

3.92

Texas

20

3.92

Georgia    

1

3.93

Louisiana  

3

3.94

Michigan

13

3.95

Alabama    

2

3.95

Oklahoma

3

3.95

New Mexico

2

3.95

Ohio       

18

3.98

Louisiana  

4

3.99

Texas

9

3.99

Mississippi

1

3.99

Texas

19

4.01

Ohio       

6

4.04

Mississippi

4

4.04

Georgia    

8

4.06

Arkansas   

3

4.06

South Caroli

5

4.07

Alabama    

1

4.07

Tennessee  

9

4.08

Missouri   

4

4.09

North Caroli

7

4.09

Texas

18

4.10

Texas

11

4.10

California

47

4.11

California

2

4.11

Michigan

14

4.13

California

21

4.13

North Caroli

10

4.13

Tennessee  

3

4.13

North Caroli

2

4.14

Michigan

1

4.15

West Virgini

1

4.15

West Virgini

2

4.16

Texas

17

4.17

South Caroli

3

4.19

North Caroli

3

4.20

Texas      

5

4.20

Pennsylvania

12

4.22

Indiana

7

4.22

Missouri   

7

4.22

Mississippi

3

4.23

Washington

4

4.24

Virginia   

3

4.24

Oregon

2

4.26

Arizona

1

4.26

Nevada

1

4.26

Florida    

1

4.27

Kentucky   

2

4.27

Virginia   

5

4.27

Ohio

17

4.27

Oklahoma

4

4.28

New York

23

4.29

Pennsylvania

9

4.29

Indiana

8

4.30

Tennessee  

6

4.30

Texas

16

4.32

Illinois

17

4.32

Georgia    

9

4.32

Florida

23

4.32

North Caroli

8

4.34

North Caroli

11

4.34

Feel free to disagree with my assessment of the South or of Appalachia. This was excluding a large number of districts that seem to have an inconclusive regional definition. For example, Florida-23 straddles the Miami metro region and wasn’t included on the list. I only included two districts in Texas (CD1 and CD5) because the rest had mixed definitions for culture; Oklahoma-2 was the only district included. The northern district of OH-17 was excluded because only part of it is included in the ARC regional map. Missouri’s regional definition produced conflicting results but the southern districts of MO-8, MO-7, and MO-4 appear to reliably count as “southern.” The rest are 100% Southern and/or Appalachian. I wouldn’t have included Northern Virginia but none of their districts had a low HDI score so it didn’t matter.