The path to prosperity is blue
Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have a very interesting column in the NY Times. From that column:
Here’s just a section of the column:
. . . We identify blue states as the 18 that supported the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential elections, and red states as the 22 that backed the Republican candidate (alternative definitions yield similar results). If you compare averages, blue states are substantially richer (even adjusting for cost of living) and their residents are better educated. Companies there do more research and development and produce more patents. Students score better on tests of basic science-oriented skills like math.
How can conservative commentators claim that red states dominate? A tactic favored by Mr. Trump’s economic adviser Stephen Moore is to rely on measures goosed by population expansion, like job growth or a state economy’s size.
That’s like portraying India as a beacon of prosperity because it has one of the biggest economies in the world and creates millions of jobs annually. Economic performance is measured in the lives of individuals, not aggregates.
Another favorite approach is to cherry-pick a handful of red states with decent records and contrast them with the most troubled blue states. With Texas now stumbling as oil prices fall, the new conservative favorite is Utah.
Utah’s low poverty rate and long life expectancy are impressive, but spotlighting a single state ignores the more numerous red states that dominate the lowest ranks of state performance — whether for life expectancy, obesity, rates of violent crime and incarceration, or labor force participation of prime-age workers.
Many of these differences are longstanding. Our reddest region, the South, has long been the poorest part, too. The gap between today’s red and blue states was enormous for much of the 20th century. It then narrowed substantially, thanks in part to huge federal transfers to the poorest states to raise them toward the national level.
Yet income differences between red and blue states stopped closing around 1980 and, in some revealing cases, widened. For example, Texas and Massachusetts — often considered exemplars of the red and blue models — had almost converged by 1980. Since then, Texas’ per capita income has fallen significantly relative to Massachusetts’. The same is true of Utah. . .