American regional disparity: How did it develop?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,679
Florania
The USA remains the country with the largest economic output; then, regional disparity is quite large.
On the $70,000+:
New York and Massachusetts are the wealthiest states by far; the high ranking of Alaska is quite a surprise.
Beyond $40,000:
The five poorest states: South Carolina, Idaho, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi.
For Idaho, I remembered all too well that this was the state we skipped during a trip to Yellowstone
National Park; is it this boring and dull? It is next to Montana in the Northwest.
The other are all southern states.
What made New York and Massachusetts special?
Why are these parts of the USA persistently poor? Mississippi and Arkansas may never have been prosperous in the
first place.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,439
There is a higher cost of living in the wealthier states. New York City and Boston have obviously been centers of commerce for 200+ years. The wealthier areas of the northeast have excellent educational systems.

Mississippi was one of the wealthiest states before the Civil War. Part of the reason was the loss of human property, and the collapse of the southern economy in the Civil War. The wealth of the south was based on agriculture, and even without the the war, it probably would not have lasted.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,286
SoCal
The wealthier areas of the northeast have excellent educational systems.
Or simply have more smart people. It's possible that a lot of how "good" schools are really has to do with what kind of students are going there. In other words, schools and universities that are going to actively recruit the smartest and brightest are also likely to be among the best-performing schools.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,286
SoCal
The USA remains the country with the largest economic output; then, regional disparity is quite large.
On the $70,000+:
New York and Massachusetts are the wealthiest states by far; the high ranking of Alaska is quite a surprise.
Beyond $40,000:
The five poorest states: South Carolina, Idaho, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi.
For Idaho, I remembered all too well that this was the state we skipped during a trip to Yellowstone
National Park; is it this boring and dull? It is next to Montana in the Northwest.
The other are all southern states.
What made New York and Massachusetts special?
Why are these parts of the USA persistently poor? Mississippi and Arkansas may never have been prosperous in the
first place.
If you're really ambitious, you could use Microsoft Excel or a similar program to graph US states' GDP per capita and their average IQ and see just how much correlation there is between these two measures:


Still, even from a cursory examination, it appears that average IQ is a limited explanation for this considering that California, Hawaii, and Nevada do better than their average IQ would predict:




Maybe there are a lot of prominent industries and/or businesses in the wealthier US states? For instance, New York has Wall Street, California has both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Nevada has Las Vegas, Texas and North Dakota have oil, et cetera. Still, I wonder if even this would be a sufficiently adequate explanation of the gaps in GDP per capita between US states. Things were so much easier when one was comparing different countries based on their GDP PPP per capita since there average IQ appears to have been a much more significant factor--as well as Communism and resource booms to explain negative outliers and positive outliers, respectively.
 
Jun 2017
2,974
Connecticut
The USA remains the country with the largest economic output; then, regional disparity is quite large.
On the $70,000+:
New York and Massachusetts are the wealthiest states by far; the high ranking of Alaska is quite a surprise.
Beyond $40,000:
The five poorest states: South Carolina, Idaho, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi.
For Idaho, I remembered all too well that this was the state we skipped during a trip to Yellowstone
National Park; is it this boring and dull? It is next to Montana in the Northwest.
The other are all southern states.
What made New York and Massachusetts special?
Why are these parts of the USA persistently poor? Mississippi and Arkansas may never have been prosperous in the
first place.
Well generally with the South it's the combination of an agrarian economy and the civil war. Mississippi and Arkansas have got it the worst because those states (Mississippi in particular) just have the fewest things that create economic activity. No pro sports teams, almost no universities. No real major cities, there's just really nothing there even compared to it's other poor peers like Louisiana and Alabama to drive economic activity. Why would someone who isn't born in said place visit? There really are very few reasons for the states listed.

Idaho there's just not very many people in a pretty gigantic area and again not anything you need to go to Idaho to do. Given the small group of people that live there I'm honestly surprised they are in that club normally a small population drives GDP up like it does any other average.

West Virginia obviously wasn't part of the South in the Civil War, but it was a backwater region of Virginia even to start that became a state because of politics rather than it's ability to be independent in that way(I guess there were quite a few states like that but over time they usually developed major cities and beacons of economic activity, West Virginia not really). In the 20th century it was dependent on the mining industry(which has a ton of health and environmental consequences on it's population) and without it, it's sort of in the spot Mississippi is in, there's just nothing there to spark economic activity. No major sports teams almost no major universities outside of the public flagship and those public flagships are at the bottom of the pack and likely to not attract out of staters.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,439
It is not that people are dumber in some areas. However, the south was originally populated mostly by indentured servants, who were almost all poor in Britain and mostly were convicts sentenced to work on plantations, as well as slaves from tribal areas. There were no public schools before the Civil War and it was illegal to teach a slave to read and write. Before the Civil War, the elite was wealthy.

Some of the western areas were bad farm land that poor people moved to.

West Virginia was the mostly Unionist part of Virginia. There were few slaves there, because there was bad farm land. It is settled by poor Virginians, often running from the law, debts, military service, their family, etc. into a dangerous area that was illegal to settle in under the British. The people there were badly exploited by mining and other companies. The laws and attitudes are unfriendly towards large businesses. It is mountainous, which creates logistics problems. Therefore, no one would want to place a factory or whatever there.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
573
Comancheria
The white southern working class is servile to southern elites and so resists forming unions, thus wages are low. The most enterprising and ambitious of this class (and of the black working class as well) long ago left for the north with its unions and much higher wages.