May 25, 2009

Religion, Politics and Human Development

May 25, 2009

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Thank goodness for graphics. It's about the only way you can cover religion, politics and something called the human development index in a reasonable amount of space.

What is the human development index (HDI) you ask? It's a measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living and GDP for countries or, in our case, for the states.

The map on the left is what it looks like for the U.S. The darker the green the better the state measures on such things as access to health care, education, income, etc. Yellow is awful.

The map on the right has the states that were won by Obama and McCain in 2008. The blue states were won by Obama. States with whatever that other color is (wishy-washy red? Pepto-Bismol pink?) were won by McCain.

The high HDI states, in which people generally had the better education, income, etc., etc., voted overwhelmingly for Obama. The lower HDI states voted for McCain.

Two states (Texas and Alaska, dark green but voted Republican) were the exception. I'm guessing that the presence of oil skewed their income somewhat higher. (Any thoughts?) Florida is also an exception (light green but voted Democratic), possibly because it has a heavy Hispanic population, and 2/3 of Hispanics voted for Obama.

What exactly is this doing in a blog that deals exclusively with religion?

According to a Gallup Poll done in January, 2009, that measured how important religion is in our daily lives the most and least religious states are:

Most religious states Least religious states
Mississippi Vermont
Alabama New Hampshire
South Carolina Maine
Tennessee Massachusetts
Louisiana Alaska
Arkansas Washington
Georgia Oregon
Oklahoma Rhode Island
Kentucky (tie) Nevada
Texas (tie) Connecticut

The human development index, voting patterns and religious beliefs all track very closely.

People who are more religious and live in states with low life expectancies, literacy rates, education and standard of living tend to vote Republican.

People who are less religious and live in states with higher life expectancies, literacy rates, education levels and standard of living tend to vote Democratic.

State by state importance of religion
States won by Obama and McCain
Human Development Index in the U.S.

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