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When I spoke yesterday of the savage realities facing black women, and whether Obama was prepared to confront them (and win black women's vote) this is the sort of thing I meant. From Slate reporting on a new book called the Logic of Life, which purports to lay bare the rational decisions underpinning seemingly irrational cultural phenomena:
[Economists] Charles and Luoh are able to examine [the rational decisions underlying black women's marriage prospects] this statistically because they have data across all 50 states and for the 1980, 1990 and 2000 census. So they are able to compare the situation of women in different times and places, taking into account background trends as they vary across the country and from decade to decade. They estimate, for instance, that a one percentage point rise in the proportion of young black men in prison reduces the proportion of young black women who have ever been married by three percentage points. In states where 20 or 25 percent of the available men are in prison, young black women become very unlikely to marry. The effect is even more dramatic for uneducated women, since women tend to pair up with men of a similar education level, and uneducated men are particularly likely to end up in jail.
(Note: the review also goes on to talk about how the pill lead men in general to drop out of college which raises interesting points about this post of a few days ago on abortion. That post is also notable for an amazing comment, the likes of which we bloggers rarely encounter. It's a mile long, you can't miss it. Kudos to the writer.)