In a recent post I had written, using poverty & health data, I suggested that the southern states have never figured out how to have an economy since the end of slavery. It seems Harvard and U.C. Berkeley were reading my mind, publishing a study showing Socioeconomic mobility is near dead in the south.
Princeton Economist and Noble Prize Laureate Dr. Paul Krugman has a great piece in his blog about urban sprawl’s effects on Socioeconomic status, and compiles some of his own data (just for fun). He uses data from this Harvard/Berkeley study that shows that areas of high urban sprawl lower economic mobility. And the highest areas of sprawl is in (you guessed it) the south.
Barbara Raab from NBC has a great take on the report as well, where she interviews the authors, suggesting that tax policy might be at play in the demise of socioeconomic mobility in the south. There is certainly an argument for that. From Economics 101 we know that Economics is about allocating resources. Resources go to the best competitor, and no one competes for economic resources like suburbanites when it comes to schools, jobs, and services.
So who is right? Dr. Krugman or Barbara Raab? Is lack of economic mobility because of tax policy or sprawl? Well, both, and more. Here’s another reason/correlation/relationship as to why mobility is dead in the south: because tax policy and sprawl aside, their overall economy has been poor since 1865. The former slave holding states (22% of the states) contribute a COMBINED 17.2% of U.S. GDP. In this chart, which I compile from data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, here’s the former slave holding states’ contribution to the overall U.S. economy as a percent of GDP, as of 2011:
We know (from Sociology) that Socioeconomic status is a factor of Education, occupation, income and wealth. Currently, there seems to be “none of the above” in the south. Education spending has been slashed, occupations are fleeting, income is below the poverty line, and wealth hasn’t been accumulated in the south since the Civil War. Yet, as I wrote in a post about tons of unemployed people moving to the south (for absolutely no reason that can be discerned), they are walking into the frying pan of southern fried socioeconomics.