“Are Republicans healthier than Democrats?”

What am I missing, here? Red State Blue State quotes from a study that found that people in poorer health tend to vote Democrat.

This is a big ol’ “duh”, surely – people who don’t have temporarily-able-bodied privilege are more likely to vote for a party who won’t kick them to the kerb, disabled, bankrupt and homeless, and then crow about how they shoulda been more “responsible”.

Yet the authors quoted tie themselves in knots after failing to find strong correlations with poverty, race, education (all perfectly reasonable correlations to look for) – and then fly off on a tangent about how Republicans value “personal responsibility”, church is good for you, and Democrats smoke.

I can’t see anything that so much as attempts to consider an explanation of the correlation in terms of how being sick might cause Democratic leanings; only attempts at trying to explain why being a Democrat causes sickness.

What am I missing? Red State Blue State is normally a reasonably intelligent site, isn’t it?

Categories: health, Politics, religion


6 replies

  1. I must be missing something.
    Time and time again unhealthy states are listed are the deep south states (Louisiana, Arkansas, etc) which vote overwhelmingly Republican. The studies usually show the northern states as being the most healthy, which are usually Democratic voting.
    I don’t understand how the usual studies relate to this one.

  2. The explanation is that the study results are just plain wrong. The researchers got their crosstabs backwards and reported the wrong percentages. I’ve explained it, with screen shots of the GSS results they used, here (http://stevekass.com/2008/11/04/are-republicans-healthier-than-democrats/).

  3. Thanks, Steve. Though that changes the numbers, there still seems (at a glance, without statistical analysis) to be at least some correlation between health and political leanings, though the numbers are somewhat fuzzy in the middle.

  4. True, there’s still something going on. However, my guess (also at a glance, without statistical analysis) is that most of the relationship can be explained by a known correlate of party identification, say economic status.
    If it turns out that party identification does help explain respondents’ self-reported health beyond what other factors explain, I hope the authors will let us know.
    While strong Democrats reported poor health more frequently than strong Republicans in the General Social Survey, for respondents at the same economic status, things could even be the other way around. Strong Democrats might have reported poor health less often than strong Republicans (of the same economic status).

  5. Another failure of correlation/causation assessment is found in today’s WA Today. In ”Low wage earners happy to have jobs”:

    The results, based on an analysis of more than 7000 people surveyed in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia series, show that unemployment is extremely bad for well-being. Not only are the unemployed less happy, their opinion of their health is much lower than those with jobs.

    Later in the article they quote a chap saying that the causation may run the other way, but I guess the author didn’t believe him.


  1. Steve Kass » Are Republicans healthier than Democrats?
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