Monday, May 23, 2011

Factors in State-to-State Variability

Over at Overcoming Bias, Robin Hanson reviews a recent thesis by one of his students, Ken Lee, who's dissertation, entitled Essays in Health Economics: Empirical Studies on Determinants of Health, describes a factor analysis of data differentiating the states from one another.
Ken collected 81 features of states, 56 cultural rankings and 25 demographic variables (listed below), and did a factor an analysis on them.
The results were interesting.  Health factors yielded the biggest variance between the states.
(27% of variance): Top five features: “low cancer deaths, low cardiovascular deaths, low smoking rates, low levels of unnecessary medical care, low obesity rates,” Also: “high well-being index, high exercise rates, healthiest, low mortality rates for blacks and whites, higher in education (IQ Rank, Percentage of Graduates, and Smartest), higher in health (Healthiest, Exercise Frequency, and Percentage with No Insurance), and lower in crime rates (Crime Rate and Violent Crime Rate) rankings.”

The deep south (shown, appropriately, in white in the map)  is quite unhealthy.  High rates of obesity and low levels of physical activity.  It's also ruled by Republicans and quite anti-Union and anti-Science.  Is anyone really surprised?

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