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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Red-State vs Blue-State Morality

An exchange between two readers.

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As part of the ongoing exchange of email regarding morality, evolution, and the existence of God, an emailer wrote the following, to which my friend Emil Pavone gave the response following the first email:


Message from emailer:

I do not contest most?of your points below about the general decline of sexual morals and morality in our country.?

But much of the?further point you make that you suspect “morals” in the Red states are superior to those in the Blue is in error. The facts may be counterintuitive…..but they are still the facts.

For example:?

There are more unwanted pregnancies annually in the Red States than in the Blue states.

There are more “shotgun” marriages annually in the Red States than in the Blue states.

The incidence of chronic alcoholism is higher in the Red States than in the Blue states.

The incidence of smoking is higher in the Red States than in the Blue states.

The suicide rate in Red states is the same as in the Blue states.?

The rate?of child (under 18) suicide is higher in the Red states than in the Blue states.

The incidence of incest is higher in the Red states than in the Blue states.?

The number of bars and brothels—-per 1000 population—-is higher in the Red states than in the Blue states.?

Moreover, the?divorce rate among people under 35 is exactly the same for people who call themselves “born again Christians” as it is for people who say they “have no organized religious faith.”?

And, finally, the state with the lowest divorce rate in the country is——are you ready for this?——Massachusetts!

?(All of this data—and more—is available in the Statistical Abstract of the United States.? As I said:? The facts sometime are counterintuitive….but they are still the facts.)?


Response from Emil Pavone:

I?ve been so busy lately that little time has been left for our enjoyable and educational Internet exchanges.?But your November 17th e-missive fairly cries out for correction, so I?ve put aside worldly affairs to reenter the lists.

The thrust of your surprisingly erroneous communication has it that morality is higher in the Blue States than the Red, measured in terms of ?unwanted pregnancies,? ?shotgun marriages,? ?alcoholism,? ?smoking,???suicide,? ?child suicide,? ?incest,? and ?bars and brothels.??My word, what a deadly indictment ?and dead wrong!

It?s been said that figures don?t lie, but liars figure.?I?m sure you?re no liar, and I?m equally sure your proficiency in fact-finding would have provided you with accurate data had you performed the research personally.?So I suspect you assigned the task to some lazy intern, who didn?t bother to do the work and just told you what he or she thought you wanted to hear.?It?s always difficult to get subordinates to pass bad news up the line.?

Your e-mail did not define your terms, but you claimed the?Statistical Abstract Of The United States?as your source, without providing a single specific citation.?Surely you agree that credence requires Chapter and Verse.?I thought I?d do a little better than Chapter and Verse by passing along theStatistical Abstract?s actual data, and data from the U.S. Department of Health?s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).?Neither attempts to tabulate ?shotgun marriages,? ?incest,? or ?bars and brothels,? as you stated, so I put that claim down to a penchant for hyperbole.?Hyperbole should be used with great discretion, however, for some of your readers won?t recognize it as such and your remarks will further fan the miasma of misinformed liberal insults to the people of the Red States ? and to the people of the Blue States who reside outside the major urban centers.?(Have you examined a presidential election map of the Red and Blue States broken down by Election Districts?)

You will find the tables on these subjects from the ?Statistical Abstract? and from CDC?s?National Vital Statistics.?  See below for the web URLs to access the tables. ?(They are PDF files,so they require Acrobat Reader to view them.?Undoubtedly, you already have it on your computer.?If not, it?s a free download at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html )

So let?s look at the?Statistical Abstract of the United States? and CDC?s?National Vital Statistics? to see how the Red and Blue States compare regarding:

1. Births To Unmarried Women By State, Race and Hispanic Origin
2. Abortions-Number & Rate By State
3. Marriages and Divorces By State
4. Aids, Syphilis & Tuberculosis By State
5. Estimated Use Of Selected Drugs By State
6. Death Rates For Major Causes of Death By State (Includes HIV and Assault)
7. Current Cigarette Smoking By Sex & State

If you take the time to examine the data presented in these seven tables, I?m sure you?ll agree that the Red States rank higher in morality than the Blue,based on the criteria you cited.?You obviously agree that intuitive expectation of this relative morality favors the Red States.?These tables make it plain that the truth is not counter-intuitive; intuition is correct:?the Red States display higher standards of morality,by your criteria, than the Blue.?Yes, there are instances where individual Red States fare less favorably than Blue; but this is certainlynot the case across the board.?The Blue States as a group score depressingly low on the moral issues you chose for comparison.?And for extraordinarily horrendous scores, check the figures for California, New York and the District of Columbia in areas like AIDS, Unwed Motherhood, Abortion and Drug Abuse.

All of the figures appear in the seven documents [listed above], reprinted directly from the most recent edition of the ?Statistical Abstract of the United States,?and the Centers For Disease Control?s?National Vital Statistics.??

You may want to have a talk with that intern.

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?

National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 52, No. 10, December 17, 2003?????P. 57

Source: Centers for disease Control and Prevention

?

Table 19. Number and percent of births to unmarried women by race and Hispanic origin of mother: United States, each State and territory, 2002

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_10.pdf

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?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: S.K. Henshaw and J. Van Vort, Abortion Services in the United States, 1991 and 1992, Family Planning Perspectives,

26:100, 1994; S.K. Henshaw, Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States,1995-1996, Family Planning Perspectives,

30:263, 1998; L.B. Finer and S.K. Henshaw, Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States in 2000, Perspectives on Sexual

and Reproductive Health,35:6, 2003; and unpublished data.

?

?

No. 104. Abortions?Number and Rate by State: 1992 and 2000

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/vitstat.pdf

?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics of the United States, annual; National Vital Statistics Reports

(NVSR)(formerly Monthly Vital Statistical Report).

?

No. 126. Marriages and Divorces?Number and Rate by State: 1990 to 2001

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/vitstat.pdf

?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA,

?

No. 194. AIDS, Syphilis, and Tuberculosis Cases Reported by State: 2001

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/health.pdf

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?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse,

Annual.

.

?

No. 202. Estimated Use of Selected Drugs by State: 2000-2001

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/health.pdf

?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report (NVSR).

?

?

No. 119. Death Rates for Major Causes of Death?States and Outlying Areas: 2001

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/vitstat.pdf

?

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States,annual.

?

No. 204. Current Cigarette Smoking by Sex and State: 2001

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/health.pdf