Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"New Study of Elitists Reveals How Out-of-Touch They Are"

"New Study of Elitists Reveals How Out-of-Touch They Are"
by Editorial Board

"You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been 
quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country."
- Gore Vidal

"The anger against the ruling elites that fueled the election of Donald Trump was not understood by them for good reason: they genuinely are isolated from the realities of life as experienced by most Americans.

A fascinating survey has created a data-based measure of the social isolation of the urban elites, the people who run the country that have no contact at all with the lives of most people.  Charles Murray, co-author of the groundbreaking study "The Bell Curve", and author of "Coming Apart: The State of White America", devised a clever survey to identify the social isolation from the rest of America that characterizes highly-educated, affluent elites. He explains for the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a scholar: "In "Coming Apart", a book I published in 2012, I asked my readers to score themselves on a 25-item test titled “How Thick is Your Bubble?” Scores could range from 0 to 100. The lower the score, the thicker one’s elite cultural bubble."

For PBS, he created a similar version of the quiz, taken by over 130,000 people who watch PBS. It asked 25 questions, such as:
• Did you grow up in a family in which the chief breadwinner was not in a managerial position or a high-prestige profession (defined as attorney, physician, dentist, architect, engineer, scientist or college professor)?
• Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American community with a population under 50,000 that is not part of a metropolitan area and is not where you went to college?
• Have you ever walked on a factory floor?
• Have you ever held a job that caused something to hurt at the end of the day?
• Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?

Murray acknowledges the limits, but they do not prevent the data from being meaningful: "It is not a nationally representative sample- not surprising, considering that the first thirty or forty thousand people who took the quiz were mostly people who watch PBS, which has a famously well-educated, sophisticated audience. Even after the first few months, the people who took the quiz online were necessarily people who take online quizzes- not your average American. And so it came to pass that the typical quiz-taker came from a zip code that was 28% richer than that of the average American, with 55% more people with college educations and 34% fewer people without high school diplomas. The zip codes of the quiz-takers were whiter and more Asian than those of the average American, and less black and Latino. They were more urban, with the typical quiz-taker living in a city with more than twice the median population of the city where the average American lives.

More or less by accident (I devised the quiz as a teaching device), the Bubble Quiz is a pretty darn good test. Its scores have the desirable psychometric property of forming an almost perfect normal distribution (a bell curve). More importantly, the scores were, as I hoped, related to the socioeconomic status (SES) of the zip code where people lived, with SES measured by a combination of median family income and the percentage of persons age 25 and older who have a college education. The data for assessing zip codes were taken from the 2010–2014 combined American Community Surveys, conducted by the Census Bureau.

The data yield some remarkable conclusions about the way elites cluster together and cut themselves off. When I controlled for the age of the respondent and the urbanization of the zip code, it turned out that virtually all the effect on the bubble score is driven by the percentage of adults with a college degree in the zip code where the respondent lived. The zip code’s median family income had almost no independent effect. Another interesting finding: the zip code where people lived at age 10 had a modestly larger effect on their bubble scores than their current zip code. It’s not an implausible result, but it’s also not one I would have confidently predicted ahead of time.

A third interesting finding is one that I presented in the earlier posts but bears showing again with the larger sample sizes: The relationship between the bubble score and the zip code’s SES is nonlinear. Take a look at this graphic:
Click image for larger size.
For people who live in zip codes in the bottom quartile of SES (the x axis in the graphic), increases in SES had little association with the bubble score. In the middle two SES quartiles, scores gradually declined. In the top SES quartile, increases were associated with accelerating declines in the bubble score, becoming especially steep for those in the top few percentiles."

The important point about the graph is that the top few percentiles are crucial for understanding our cultural divide. The people living in zip codes in the top two percentiles include almost all of those who run the nation’s culture, economy, and politics. And that’s where the bubble scores plunge.

In other words, there really is an elite at the very top of our income, education, and status hierarchy, and they cluster in just a few areas, and cut themselves off from different people. Moreover, they tend to be children of people of higher status and education. A hereditary class cut off from the society they rule. Not exactly the Jeffersonian ideal of America. More like the European, Latin, and Asian nations from which many Americans fled.  And they live exactly where you would expect as this graphic depicts (list below): 
Click image for larger size.
Neil Munro of Breitbart summarizes: A new study shows the college-graduate inhabitants of New York’s elite zip-codes are the most socially isolated Americans in the United States, and have the least familiarity with how ordinary Americans live. Close behind are the parochial professionals in zip codes around Boston, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, whose social bubbles leave them isolated from the hopes and fears of their fellow Americans:
Click image for larger size.
Complete list at link below.
Related:
“The Elite Have No Idea Society Is Near The Breaking Point”
"A hacked email of John Podesta finds him saying “she (Hillary) has begun to hate everyday Americans”. No doubt the same feelings were voiced by Nicolas Ceaucescu. It turned out the feeling was mutual."

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