New Hampshire fact of the day

by on February 21, 2016 at 1:30 am in Current Affairs, Data Source, Medicine, Political Science | Permalink

There are several ways of thinking about economic distress. One is inequality. Utah is the most equal state, then Alaska, Wyoming and New Hampshire. In terms of median family income, Maryland is the richest state, then New Hampshire. So the Granite State is in a sweet spot, both very rich and relatively equal. But its drug deaths exceed the national average.

That is from Scott Sumner.  And this:

In contrast, the 5 states with the lowest rate of drug deaths are all in the northern plains area. (Note that the 4 most equal states and the 5 lowest drug deaths states are mostly white, but their drug death rates are vastly different.) Interestingly after the 5 plains states you have Virginia, followed by four very unequal states, with lots of poverty; Texas, New York, Mississippi and Georgia rounding out the top 10 for fewest drug deaths.

Economics isn’t everything, nor is inequality.

1 Steve Sailer February 21, 2016 at 1:57 am

One possibility is the geographic pattern of the White Death is less caused by demand than by supply.

Reporter Sam Quinones’s book “Dreamland” points out that a lot of deaths are in locales targeted by low-profile Mexican black tar heroin retail dealers, such as southern Ohio. The Mexicans target areas without a history of white mafias and go out of their way to avoid selling to blacks and try not to cross paths with black urban gangs. It’s possible they just haven’t gotten to the North Central region yet.

Here’s Quinones’s summary of his findings last year in the NYT:

“The Xalisco Boys, as one cop I know has nicknamed them, are far from our only heroin traffickers. But they may be our most prolific. As relentless as Amway salesmen, they embody our new drug-plague paradigm.

“Xalisco dealers are low profile — the anti-Scarface. Back home they are bakers, butchers and farm workers, part of a vast labor pool in Xalisco and surrounding towns, who hire on as heroin drivers for $300 to $500 a week. The drug trade offers them a shot at their own business, or simply a chance to make some money to show off back home — kings until the cash goes. Meanwhile, in the United States, they drive old cars with their cheeks packed like chipmunks’, and dress like the day workers in front of your Home Depot.

“They are “looking for places where there’s no people, no competition,” he said. “Anyone can be boss of a network.” Thus the system distills what appeals to immigrants generally about America: It is a way to translate wits and hard work into real economic gain. …

“They are decidedly nonviolent — terrified, in fact, of battles for street corners with armed gangs. They don’t carry guns. They also have rules against selling to African-Americans because, as one dealer put it, “they’ll steal from you, and beat you.”

“The Boys started out on the fringes of the drug world in West Coast cities. In the late 1990s, they moved east in search of virgin territory. They avoided New York City, the country’s traditional center of heroin, because the market was already run by entrenched gangs. …They also skipped cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, where black gangs control distribution.

The Xalisco Boys migrated instead to prosperous midsize cities. These cities were predominantly white, but had large Mexican populations where the Boys could blend in. They were the first to open these markets to cheap, potent black-tar heroin in a sustained way. The map of their outposts amounts to a tour through our new heroin hubs: Nashville, Columbus and Charlotte, as well as Salt Lake City, Portland and Denver.”

2 Steve Sailer February 21, 2016 at 2:00 am

I’m reminded a little bit of how Wal-Mart grew under the radar in the 1960s through the 1980s into the biggest retailer in America by avoiding high profile places like Los Angeles and concentrating in underserved backwaters where there wasn’t much competition.

3 Anon February 21, 2016 at 3:29 am

If supply could be part of the answer , why are NY’s relatively so low?

Also the figures are not accessible at the link , it appears, without a Premium subscription.

4 Axa February 21, 2016 at 6:48 am

Nice anecdote, but death by “Fentanyl alone or in combination with other substances (except heroin)” accounts for 50+% of overdose deaths. Fentanyl may come from doctor’s prescriptions, illegal source (ie robbing a pharmacy) but anyway pharmaceutical Fentanyl or illicit homemade Fentanyl. So, what are the Mexicans doing? Going to med school and being generous with opiates prescriptions, running an organization that deviates pharmaceutical Fentanyl to recreational use or synthesizing the drug at home?

5 Taips February 21, 2016 at 4:47 am

Do normal economic inequality indicators mean anything state-by-state, given mobility patterns? Is it just that nearly anyone in NH with high earning potential moves to one of the many metropolitan areas in the north east?

6 Steve Sailer February 21, 2016 at 5:16 am

A sizable fraction of New Hampshire’s population live in prosperous lower tax exurbs of Boston.

New Hampshire is the lower tax version of Boston, much like Vermont has become the offshoot of New York City for white liberal New Yorkers like Bernie Sanders who don’t, actually, like living around nonwhites.

7 prior_test1 February 21, 2016 at 5:49 am

Wait, I missed the Pioneer Fund memo – since when did people like Sanders become white, instead of distinctly semitic? Certainly, things have changed since Laughlin’s and Draper’s days, at least in public, but really, Vermont was full of the sort of hardy people the Pioneer Fund is still in favor of, before the state became an offshoot of a city overrun at the beginning of the 20th century by the sort of cosmopolitan and inferior humans that the Pioneer Fund was founded in part to stop from becoming even more important in American affairs than they were in the 1930s.

Not that racists actually seem to care much beyond the latest fashion when it comes to their obsessions, though one would trust that a group like the Pioneer Fund has not so shifted with the times as to have lost sight of its founders’ vision for the sake of becoming more politically correct in the eyes of someone such as yourself.

8 Sam Haysom February 21, 2016 at 10:34 am

Knock me over with a feather-things have changed since 1937. Think of it this way- no more than ten years ago you were happily employed at the Mercatus Center and then boom you got fired and turned into a bitter husk of a human. And that was less than ten years time for a pretty boring and non-dynamic person like you. Now imagine eighty years time and interesting highly dynamic country like the US. Things are going to change.

9 JWatts February 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

“…you were happily employed at the Mercatus Center ..”

I’m skeptical that prior_test was happy. What do other people who worked with him think about him?

10 James February 21, 2016 at 5:37 am

If you are low income you likely live in VT.

11 Jan February 21, 2016 at 9:41 am

Vermont is 19th in median income by state.

12 Sam Haysom February 21, 2016 at 10:43 am

Which means it is significantly poorer than all its neighbors but Maine. The point is if you are a poor New Englander chances are you live in Maine or Vermont. New England culture is sufficiently distinct that it would discourage emigrating to a non-Yankee state. CT, MA and NH are where ambitious New Englanders live

13 Jan February 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

The difference in median family income between Vermont and New Hampshire is like $12,000. Given the small population of the state, if you are poor and live in New England, the chances are that you Do Not live in Vermont. I lived in New England and the idea that ambitious locals only live in those states is frankly delusional. You may want to look at business ownership rates, for example.

14 mulp February 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

If you are poor, you do not live in New Hampshire but you can find a place to live in Vermont. Unless you are part of a middle class New Hampshire family circa 1950 that owned their farm growing apples, etc or doing dairy. In the 80s your family farm would have been hurt badly, and unless you lived where Mass and Maine high tech and professional workers could reach, your farm dragged you down, not being worth selling, but not generating much income.

Low wage workers in the edges of New Hampshire live outside the State with the exception of those who find old housing in old mill housing that is generally converted to multi-unit housing in undesirable parts of town.

New Hampshire housing policy is designed to keep out even NH resident graduates from NH universities.

15 Jan February 21, 2016 at 11:19 am

In fact, I would imagine that almost all the difference in income between VT and NH can be explained by much of NH’s relative proximity to the high earning Boston metro area. I bet incomes in rural parts of those states are very comparable.

16 Sam Haysom February 21, 2016 at 11:34 am

My point was not that your average Vermonter is less ambitious than your average New Hampsherite (sp?). My point was that your most ambitious NEers are going to end up in NH and CT and MA because that is what’s near the big cities. It sounds like VT is starting to develop into a hub for commuters too so in twenty years this won’t be the case, but as it stands ME and VT lose ambitious people to the major cities without getting them back via commuter communities. This makes VT and ME significantly less affluent than CT and NH and to a less extent MA. 12000 is a huge difference. Bigger in fact than the difference between WV and the national average.

17 Quantitative Sneezing February 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

I’ve lived in both VT and NH.
VT has no residents that earn income. There are NYC-expat trust funders, and then there are the (take back Vermont) hedgehogs. The latter make ends meet by poaching deer off their own land.
Both groups are addicted to opioids, the rich folks get them legally prescribed, the poor folks steal them from the rich folks’ medicine cabinets or turn to cheap heroin coming up I-91 from NYC.
The poor folks do all their shopping tax-free in NH because they can’t afford anything in VT. The rich folks buy the organic crap in VT from Vermonters who make so little selling that organic crap that they fall under the group of people that shops in NH. I’m not sure what the poor folks in Burlington do, since it’s too far from NH. I guess that’s why they elect people like Bernie Sanders hoping for handouts. However, electing folks like Bernie Sanders makes businesses (IBM) move across the state line into NY, of all places.

In NH, people work for a living. However, the state is now statistically dominated by exiled Taxachussets residents who are slowly changing their new state into the one they left behind.

18 dbp February 21, 2016 at 6:40 am

Interestingly, NH and MD are the two states with the most workers that cross a border to get to work each day. MD into DC and NH into MA.

Even as NH residents pay MA income tax on income they earn here, it is still worth the longer commute for cheaper housing. And come to think of it, cheaper everything, since NH is not as heavily regulated as MA.

19 Jan February 21, 2016 at 9:39 am

NH’s lower cost of living is a function of being a bit beyond the core of the Boston metro area.The trend is true of all coastal cities. Other factors are negligible.

20 dbp February 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

Being outside the urban core is important but not the only reason. You can go in any direction away from Boston and see the population density drop smoothly the further out you go. But you see two other things: MA suburbs like Groton and Harvard are just as far from Boston (commute time) as Nashua or Hudson, but the cost of housing in the NH towns is a lot less. Also, you see a discontinuity in population density as you cross the border. If it was purely a function of distance to the urban core, why the importance of the border?

21 Cooper February 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Local sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25%. In NH it’s zero percent.

That’s pretty significant all by itself.

22 mulp February 21, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Housing is not cheap, or cheaper than Mass. NH residents who get a college degree anywhere can not find affordable housing in New Hampshire, so NH loses a very high percentage of young people once they leave their parent’s home. And young families with kids generally do not earn enough yet to buy homes in New Hampshire.

This is by design.

Paying for public schools requires paying higher taxes than is acceptable in NH.

Paying to build roads, water and sewer, and other public services like schools and police, medical, fire, needed to build housing of any kind is too costly to be paid for with taxes on established residents, so housing developers must build everything and turn it over to the local government for free, built to local government standards to ensure no local taxes need be spent until the houses have paid property taxes for at least a decade. The alternative is forming home ownership associations that become responsible for all public services like road maintenance, maintenance of any common water and sewer, providing pickup point for school buses that meet local road standards.

Large developments will be required to pay to expand school buildings and access roads.

Most towns have been burned by developers building substandard roads, substandard drainage, substandard water and sewer infrastructure, leading to home buyers being very angry at the town for refusing to fix problems in the development, taking towns to court for either not fixing the problems, or for granting occupancy permits to buildings with problems allowing them to buy the houses.

23 John Thacker February 21, 2016 at 8:32 am

Economics isn’t everything, nor is inequality.

Indeed. However, while I am not a progressive, I believe that the way that the sophisticated center-left gets around this point is to concede that, yes, conservatives and libertarians may be right that these other factors exist, but the economics and inequality levers are the ones that we know how to get government to push on. They may go on to argue that while it is hypothetically possible for government to push on the other moral levers, that that is an inherently inappropriate action of government (see the reaction to GWB and “faith-based organizations.”)

24 John Thacker February 21, 2016 at 8:34 am

In other words, a progressive will argue that even if conservatives and libertarians are mostly right (a pretty big hypothetical) about causes, that if there still remains a small effect from economic intervention then doing it is better than “doing nothing.”

25 John Thacker February 21, 2016 at 8:37 am

An interesting related claim: legalizing medical marijuana may greatly decrease opioid deaths. Probably needs more study to be sure.

26 If you KNOW then you know February 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

Guarantee it 100%. The fact of a certain number of people (20%?) potentially switching from opioids to marijuana (not effective for all types of pain), and given the statistical probability of an overdose, the effect is necessarily positive. Not sure whether the empirics will be clear enough from the perspective of statistical certainty, but those who know KNOW. From experience.

Personally, one of the things that makes me angriest about anti-marijuana laws is knowing that a doctor can prescribe an legal but addictive and potentially lethal treatment, but you face legal sanction for something that also works (not for all) but which has no known lethal dose and for which any negative long-term impacts remain highly debated even after desperate efforts to prove its ill effects.

Hope you will never have the pleasure of KNOWING.

27 Jan February 21, 2016 at 10:27 am

It’s a very tough thing to demonstrate causality, and I don’t think the effect, even if proven, would be strong enough to sway conservative states that are resistant to legalization.

28 The Original D February 22, 2016 at 2:06 am

Legalization in conservative southern states will be driven by farmers wanting a new cash crop. Not just marijuana but also hemp.

29 John Thacker February 21, 2016 at 8:44 am

West Virginia is very poor, but has a relatively low uninsured rate, especially low considering its poverty. At least some of the Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi success story on avoiding prescription drug deaths is the inability of people to have the insurance on which to obtain the deadly drugs, it seems. Texas is fairly wealthy, but has very strict Medicaid requirements.

It is quite possible, then, that the recent massive increase in Kentucky’s deaths from overdose is because of Gov. Beshear expanding Medicaid.

30 John Thacker February 21, 2016 at 8:47 am

Similarly, Ohio has also seen a very large increase in deaths, and that may be attributable to Kasich expanding Medicaid. Ditto for West Virginia.

31 Banned Guy February 21, 2016 at 9:21 am


West Virginia is very poor,

Personal income per capita in West Virginia is about 22% lower than national means, putting it on a par with that 3d world latrine called Belgium.

There are a number of curios about West Virginia. It’s demographically stagnant, with a population slightly lower than it was in 1950. It’s the most provincial state in the country, with more than 90% of the population in small towns and rural areas. For all that countryside, the comparative size of its agricultural sector is about average (and biased toward forestry, I believe). Extractive industry is much more important there (15% of value added) than is normally the case (3% being about normal). It’s unemployment rate is invariably elevated (about 20% above national means right now; a generation ago it was twice national means). The homicide rate is oddly elevated for a place that does not have much of an urban population, but still below average. Its higher education system is absurdly bloated, with about twice the enrollment you’d expect given its population and 3x the enrollment a prudent state like New York would place in a catchment with that population. It has a lot of people who do not put up much of a front, so you’ll see an expensive motor vehicle parked outside a ramshackle country dwelling. The people who live there are more satisfied than most with where they are living, but it produces a certain number of expats who utterly despise the place (see the fellow who posts under the handle ‘Siarlys Jenkins’).

It’s many things. It isn’t that poor.

32 Jan February 21, 2016 at 10:24 am

Haha. WV, KY and Appalchian Ohio, were the capitals of hillbilly heroin long before Medicaid expansion. But I appreciate your willingness to try to shoehorn your health care ideology into this unrelated issue.

33 Sam Haysom February 21, 2016 at 10:47 am

You can have the shoehorn when you pull it out of Jan’s cold, dainty, dead hands.

34 Dale February 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

I think you have all succumbed to the “law of small numbers” as Kahneman has named it. Since these are presumably rates (e.g., deaths per population), the variability will be greater the smaller the sample size. Note that most (not all) of the highest and lowest states in these measures are small states. It is far easier for a rate to be high OR low in a smaller state than in a larger one.

35 Jan February 21, 2016 at 9:47 am

Drug deaths are driven by supply (originating with opioid Rx drugs) and regional culture. Racial culture, wealth and inequality have almost nothing to do with it. If there is any causal relationship it is extremely weak.

36 ttt February 21, 2016 at 11:39 am

“…the top 10 for fewest…”

there’s got to be a better way to say that.

37 Tarrou February 21, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Well, seeing as “economic inequality” is the only thing that matters, we best expel all non-whites, move to the desert and become crazy cultists. It’s the only way!

38 Nathan W February 21, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Are any Amazonian spiritual “potions” critical to the practices of any of those desert cults?

39 Cooper February 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm


40 Jake February 22, 2016 at 1:44 am

People are probably saying apparently deep things in this thread. Tyler and Scott have also tried to sound deep.

How about this. By well-known statistics facts explicitly pointed out by Kahneman & Tversky, the states which are “the most X” will probably be the smallest states, just because small samples fluctuate more.

In turn, the smallest states are more likely to be “the most Y” for other values of Y.

Hence, it is not surprising that a state which is “the most X” is also “the most Y”.

If you want to argue that there is anything worthwhile or deep happening with New Hampshire, drugs or whatever, you need to work harder.

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