Arnold Kling  

Assortative Living

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Reviewing a book by Bill Bishop, Alan Ehrenhalt writes,


there is one simple statistic, rightly seized on by Mr. Bishop, that is difficult to explain away. It is this: In 1976, less than a quarter of the American people lived in so-called "landslide counties" – that is, counties in which the spread between the two major presidential candidates was 20 percentage points or more. By 2004, nearly half of us lived in this kind of politically tilted territory.

Add this to the list of phenomena that can be explained by the Theory of Everything, which is assortative mating. Fewer people are getting married across class lines. This explains rising inequality, stricter sorting of neighborhoods, the high price of college (as the affluent try to send their children to schools attended by other affluent children), and, well, Everything.


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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Acad Ronin writes:

The assortive mating explanation for neighborhoods assumes people move. Political economy suggests that districts move as politicians gerrymander themselves into safe districts. Probably we are seeing both.

randy writes:

i was so thrilled last week when i had a chance to use the term "assortative mating". i think it's quite a useful concept when explaining the society we live in.

Matt writes:

I love Wikopedia, because I looked up the Theory of Everything, and lo and behold, I find the hierarchical chart of force interactions and it is the same binary, unbalanced tree that we found in the Founder`s Gene concept. Somehow, in any scale, it is always a two force model, and other forces are way off scale.

We can accept this in the founders gene concept because genes, bio-chemistry, and atomic physics are close enought that one could claim correlation in the physics.

But, if the thoery of everything exists, then such a two force model, unbalanced tree would act like a kernel, requiring all high congregates to obey the same law. We would expect the same organization to appear in the economy, and we use that theory to find the links between evolution and economic development, bridge the gap in sciences so to speak.

John Thacker writes:

The assortive mating explanation for neighborhoods assumes people move. Political economy suggests that districts move as politicians gerrymander themselves into safe districts. Probably we are seeing both.

However, gerrymandering rarely affects county boundaries, which was the focus of the point. (I can think of a few examples-- Vance County in North Carolina was created as a gerrymander, but that was back in the day when state legislatures were allowed to use a one or two legislator per county for State Senate seats system; i.e., before Reynolds v. Sims)

Joseph writes:

Bryan/Arnold - You're in a perfect position to evaluate the Washington, DC area as a test case for assortative living. Most of the early to mid-career professionals I know who moved to DC from elsewhere eventually left the city once they got tired of forking over half their incomes to taxes. Some went north (literally and figuratively) to Maryland where they figured, "hey, if I'm going to pay so much in taxes I might as well get better quality services for my money. Some went went south to Virginia where they figured, "hey, I can get the same level of local government services for less money."

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