Summary of 23 Quality of Life Indicators — Are Red or Blue States Better?

In comparing the quality of life between Red vs Blue states, I’ll be grouping all 23 indicators into 4 main categories:

Results by Category

Crime  –  Democrats won 3 of 4

Social Issues  –  Democrats won 3 of 4

Economics  –  Democrats won 7 of 8

Health  –  Democrats won 7 of 7

Results by Indicator

Note 1: A political party can do “vastly,” “clearly,” or “slightly” better.

Note 2: “Better” refers to the socially preferred outcome, which means having a lower rate for the majority of these indicators.

Crime

Murder – Democrats do Vastly Better

Rape – Democrats do Slightly Better

Robbery – Republicans do Clearly Better

Car Theft – Democrats do Clearly Better

Social Issues

Divorce  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Overdose Mortality  –  Republicans do Vastly Better

Suicide Mortality  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Teen Births  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Economy

GDP per Capita  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Median Household Income – Democrats do Vastly Better

Unemployment  –  Democrats do Slightly Better

All People in Poverty  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Child Poverty  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Pop Graduated HS  –  Democrats do Slightly Better

Pop Graduated College  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Homelessness – Republicans do Vastly Better

Health

Life Expectancy  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

People without Health Insurance  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Infant Mortality  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Household Food Insecurity  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

STDs: Chlamydia (Gonorrhea)  –  Democrats do Clearly (Vastly) Better

Adult Obesity  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Hypertension Mortality  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Discussion

If You Care about Abortion, then…

I made the controversial decision not to include Abortion in the ‘official’ part of the study (ie it’s still in the Controversial Indicators post, yet to come) because it 1) isn’t common ground shared by both ideologies and 2) data sets don’t count illegal abortions or red state citizens crossing into blue states.

However, if your primary value is child welfare, if that’s your overwhelming focus when voting, then there are a bunch of other indicators in this study which you should look at.  Here they are and how Red states compare to Blue states:

  1. Infant Mortality  –  Democrats do Vastly Better
  2. Teen Births  –  Democrats do Vastly Better
  3. Divorce  –  Democrats do Vastly Better
  4. Household Food Insecurity  –  Democrats do Vastly Better
  5. Pop Graduated HS  –  Democrats do Slightly Better
  6. Child Poverty  –  Democrats do Vastly Better

Statistically, it seems Republicans only care about children before they’re born.

Not Politics, But Wealth?

I’d first like to discuss a point that was brought up a lot when I was first designing this study: it might be wealth more than politics that explains various indicators.  To this, I totally agree, in a way.  Poverty has a strong, well researched affect on almost all of these outcomes.  But there are two points that justify this study nonetheless

  1. Conservatives and liberals both argue that their economic ideology is better at making a society wealthy.
  2. Conservatives also tend to argue that non-economic factors, like family and Christian values, which they claim to do better on, also have a strong causal affect on many indicators.

I included more economics indicators than any other category to answer the first of these points.  If Democrats states are wealthier and better at avoiding poverty, then I believe the other three categories are still important to answer the second point.

Possible Connections b/t the 3 Red Indicators?

Republicans did vastly better on homelessness and drug overdose mortality, as well as clearly better on robbery.  I’m not in the business of declaring causal pathways that explain these findings, but I can’t help but comment a little on what might connect these three.

First, it’s relatively uncontroversial homelessness is driven in Blue states by high property costs, which are in turn driven by denser populations and higher demand.  People want to live in these states for the myriad of reasons represented in the other 20 indicators.

I’d also like to note that tried and proven way of reducing homelessness is a liberal-leaning “welfare type” of solution – just give the homeless free homes.  It’s consistently worked in foreign countries and domestic states, and is cheaper than approaching the problem with policing and shelters.  You can read here how it reduced homelessness in Utah (a solid Red state) by 90%.  And once the program was stopped, homelessness doubled.

Second, in a similar way, the other two indicators seem to be connected with higher levels of wealth.  Again, these are just my personal (but decently informed) impressions, but it might be the case that there are more robberies where there are more worthwhile things to steal.  If everyone around you is poor, why mug anyone?  And not only are drugs an expensive habit to start up, but if you’re selling drugs (or anything) it makes sense to focus efforts where there are more people with more money.

Lastly, assuming high drug overdose mortality is related to high drug use, a big assumption, and combining this with higher per capita homeless populations, it seems we have an explanation for higher levels of robbery.  Basically, it doesn’t take much to assume greater numbers of homeless and addicted would drive up robbery numbers.

Again, these are just my own personal ideas.  But it’s what I came up with to explain why Republicans won these three specifically but (often badly) lost everything else.

What Do You Think?

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