Free Markets, Free People

Is policy killing red-state women?

I see some on the Left passing around this map showing that female mortality worsened in many counties between the early/mid-’90s and the early/mid-2000s.  (Meanwhile, male mortality only worsened in 3.4% of counties.)

They noticed red states doing worse than blue states, and thought that this must, of course, be due to the Republican war on women™.

The mortality rate of females [worsening] in 43 percent of U.S. counties from 2002-2006 is eye-opening. This map from health researcher Bill Gardner helps you see where the worst results are typically coming from — red states and the redder parts of blue states.

It apparently did not occur to these partisans to control for a fairly simple, innocent phenomenon: old people just die more frequently than younger people.

  • Rural areas are aging faster as they have fewer kids who stick around – and it’s mostly women left behind, since women have a longer life expectancy than men in the US.  So the mortality rate of a county could go up even if people are as healthy for their age as ever.
  • On the other hand, when you have an influx of young people (like in high-immigration counties), the mortality rate drops.

As evidence for this, look at the overlaps between the above map and two others:

More old people combined with fewer people in the prime of their health tends to mean a higher death rate, and vice versa.  It’s not a perfect correlation, but at very least it’s something that should be taken into account before blaming policy for deaths.

It certainly seems like less of a stretch than trying to blame the trend in female mortality on suicides connected to expanded gun ownership:

[A]nother study suggests that red states’ high levels of gun ownership make them especially dangerous:

With few exceptions, states with the highest rates of gun ownership — for example, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia — also tended to have the highest suicide rates.

How big of a stretch is this as a contributor to female mortality?  Two little hints:

And then there’s this bold prediction:

With red states rushing to turn down the Medicaid expansion, these results will likely only get worse.

That’s not outlandish as guesses go, since women consume two thirds of medical care in this country, but there’s not an obvious nationwide relationship between Medicaid dependence and changes in women’s mortality (though controlling for ethnicity might be a start):

Blaming the party elected by older people for higher mortality in the areas they govern is like blaming Democrats for young urbanites being more prone to violent crime than old rural farmers.  If you’re not controlling for other causes, you’re just trolling for partisan causes.

6 Responses to Is policy killing red-state women?

  • Well, we all see what the mortality rate for women going into certain abortion clinics is, right Dr. Gosnell?  And I wonder how helpful to women’s health taking plan B at 11 yrs old will be.
    And of course, disarming liberal women leaving them vulnerable to rape sure does help their health I’m sure!

  • I just knew we conservatives would get in trouble for calling it ‘special policy.’
    We should have stuck with the ‘special handling’ as originally proposed.

  • The oldest woman in the US just died at a week short of 115 years old; musta been that fascist Republican bastard William McKinley.

  • I see the White House blamed demographics for the lowest worker participation rate since 1979, most especially those older Americans.
    Until the bond market regains any credibility (i.e. interest rates go above 0%), most of those older Americans won’t retire because their 401(k)’s just aren’t performing.
    It’s interesting that these older workers are to blamed for the young not getting jobs by supposedly not leaving the workforce, and, on the flip-side, they are blamed for low worker participation rates by supposedly leaving the workforce. It can only be one way or the other.
    Remember back in the late 70’s when they told us that if we saved $2000 a year and interest rates remained at 17.4% that by the time we went to retire, we would have a million dollars. Seems so silly now.

  • Gentlemen, facts aren’t facts, they’re what we say they are.
    The meme is what matters, not the blasted facts.