Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Social Problems All Intertwined.

Some stuff about the increase in teenage pregnancy rates here. Last time I wrote about teenage pregnancy I did a comparison between the nation American rate of 15-19 year olds getting pregnant and the homicide rate and found a positive correlation of 0.85.

This is a very strong correlation and I think an important point can be inferred from it that needs reiterating. Whilst public discussion of crime rates focuses on things specifically related to crime, such punishment, policing and rehabilitation, and teenage pregnancy rates are discussed in terms of sex education, family values and access to contraception; there is clearly a common factor at work that does not appear to directly relate to either problem.

I don't claim to know what that factor is, but assuming that we don't think that abstinance programs decrease stabbings or that the death penalty has an effect on whether teenagers have unprotected sex there is clearly something else at work. It could be the economy, education or something I haven't thought of but that isn't the point.

I just picked two indicator to compare but I'd guess that if other social indicators were compared we'd find more examples of good things correlating with other good things and bad things with other bad things.

Society is complex and trying to evaluate the causes and effects of ideas is extremely difficult to do. It is not effective to try to ascertain what causes x cannot be done soley by looking at things which were explicitly done to effect x.

1 comment:

Mark said...

The stats for North Dakota are most interesting, as the 'Economist' points out. They are the best antidote to knee jerk leftism you're likely to find.

As well as having the lowest teen pregnancy rate, AND 'a state-funded abstinence only programme' the state also usually has the lowest homicide rate AND very high levels of gun ownership. (Re the latter, the reverse side of this coin is Washington DC, which has stringent gun control legislation- by US standards-, combined with the highest homicide rate.)

North Dakota and Washington DC are also at opposite ends of a particular demographic spectrum, but of course if you point this out you must expect to be castigated as a rude and unlettered demagogue.