Thursday, March 30, 2017

Income Inequality

What's up with Twiggs County, Georgia?

In fiddling with the 2017 health data, it turns out Twiggs County is #1 in Georgia and #4 in the whole country in terms of income inequality. Hmph.

I don't know anything about Twiggs County other than what I can skim from census numbers and the magic that is its Wikipedia entry. It sits near Macon and has relatively few people, a hair over 8,000, but it scores really high in terms of income inequality.

So how is income inequality measured? You take a county's 20th percentile average income and compare it to the 80th percentile average income and generate a ratio. So for Twiggs county the 80th percentile average of salary is $79,276 and the 20th percentile average salary is $,959. The ratio, dividing the bigger by the smaller, is 7.96 or, in this case, rounded to 8.0.  In other words, it has a big gap between residents who earn the most and residents who earn the least, at least compared to the gap seen in other counties.

The national list is a mishmash of places. Below are the Top 5 U.S. counties in terms of income inequality:
  1. Radford City, Virginia
  2. New York, New York
  3. Clarke, Alabama
  4. Twiggs, Georgia
  5. Terrell, Texas
Radford is relatively small as well. I know nothing about it. NYC kinda speaks for itself, but Clarke, Alabama? It's a burb of Mobile, best I can tell. Terrell County, Texas, is tiny as well. So what can we say from these top five? There's no consistent explanation, not a one. They're not all college towns, not all major cities.

Is income inequality a bad thing? Generally yes, though there's something to be said for places with lots of different kinds of people rather than everyone being about the same -- or all above average. 

Now closer to home. Athens-Clarke County, where I live, rates pretty high in income inequality. We're #2 in the state. Below, the Georgia list and the income ratio, which is simply how many times smaller the bottom salaries are compared to the top salaries:
  1. Twiggs (8.0)
  2. Clarke (7.4)
  3. Clinch (7.0)
  4. Baldwin (6.7)
  5. Ben Hill (6.6)
  6. Bulloch (6.6)
  7. Crisp (6.5)
  8. Bibb (6.4)
  9. Dougherty (6.4)
  10. Burke (6.3)
By the way, the average for Georgia is 5.0. The Georgia county with the least income inequality has a 2.7 ratio (Chattahoochee). In the map below, darker colors signify counties with a greater income inequality ratio. Click on the map and a county to see its ratio.

Not a lot you can tell from the list of counties above. Again, there's no single consistent indicator that I can readily see. No major cities on the list except, maybe, Bibb County and Macon, otherwise income inequality isn't on the surface easy to explain. The poverty rates for these counties are high but not shockingly higher than other counties and in some instances actually lower. Glancing across a number of other indicators, nothing pops up to me to explain why these counties versus other counties lead the list. Athens-Clarke I get -- high poverty and a major university in the same place, but that doesn't really explain the other counties.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bad Days

The 2017 data is out that breaks down each U.S. county by a number of health statistics, so let's play with a little data today and look at one of my favorite categories -- the number of bad mental health days reported per month.

U.S. Bad Mental Health Days

  1. Apache County, Arizona
  2. Menominee County, Wisconsin
  3. East Carroll Parish, Louisiana
  4. McDowell County, West Virginia
  5. Logan County, West Virginia
Georgia Bad Mental Health Days
  1. Clay County
  2. Clarke County (my county, woot!)
  3. Calhoun County
  4. Ben Hill County
  5. Jenkins County
So why is Clarke County so high, at least in Georgia, when it comes to bad mental health days? Two hypotheses come to mind. The first is to blame all those University of Georgia students and their struggles. The second is the lousy demographics of Athens-Clarke, especially poverty numbers. Let's do a quick-and-dirty analysis. Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, which has a big university in a relatively small town, is nowhere near the top of the list for that state in terms of bad mental health days. It's down in the 50s in terms of rank (Lee County, to be specific). Gainesville, Florida (Alachua County, home of University of Florida) is also nowhere near the top of Florida. So southern college towns don't seem to be all that high by comparison, so then it may be Clarke County's other challenges, mainly poverty rate or other demographics. This seems a more reasonable argument. Without boring you with more analysis, this seems to hold up, at least at first look, at an explanation.

Next time, I'll look at income inequality. As a spoiler, yes, Athens-Clarke is a leader in this. A national leader. As in 13th in the nation (another Georgia county is even higher). It's a weird mix of places that make the top of the list for very different reasons, some college towns, some major cities like NYC.

Campus Carry

The Georgia legislature is inching its way toward another campus carry law, which would allow people 21 years or older to carry a concealed weapon on university campuses. I'm not writing here to argue one way or another, but instead to get a sense of what this means numerically if it passes and the governor signs it into law.

Let's start with UGA students. From what I see in the most recent numbers, there are 16,279 students at the university who are under 21 years old and 20,295 students who are 21 years or older. In other words, about 55.5 percent of all UGA students (undergrads and grads) would technically qualify for the 21 years or older requirement to get a concealed weapon permit (assuming they meet the other criteria).

OK, but how many will actually do it?

Who has a concealed weapon permit is not a public record in Georgia, but I did ask how many there are. For this year, about 330 permits have been either approved or renewed in Athens-Clarke, according to a county official. Doing some rough math in my head or on the back of a soiled napkin I see that's about 0.3 percent of all potential residents. Of course a higher percentage if we look at those 21 or older in Clarke County. Here's the page that describes the process, which will run you about 75 bucks through Probate Court.

More likely to me is students will not bother with a permit, thinking campus carry means just that, you can carry, but not bothering with the expense and background check and actually having to walk downtown to the courthouse and fill out this form, which kinda goes on forever. Even if only 1 percent of qualified UGA students request and receive a conceal permit (which is probably what it roughly is for the entire county, but again that's a rough guestimate), that's still about 203 students packing heat, not to mention the less-informed students who may end up thinking they can carry without a permit.

So, bad math and all, I'd expect passage of campus carry to result in a couple hundred students legally carrying a concealed firearm on campus and I suspect a few other doing so illegally. It could be higher, especially if it passes and it becomes a thing, at least at first, among some students.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

UGA is #5 Top PhD Program

The hed says it all, our PhD program is ranked #5 among communications programs in the U.S. by something called You can check out the page yourself, fiddle with the data and such, but I'm gonna sum up the important stuff below. Oh, and also note if you look at the list that UGA is #1 among those identified specifically as mass communications programs. Woot.

Here are the overall Top 5
  1. Stanford
  2. Cornell
  3. Michigan State
  4. UPenn
  5. Georgia
How about that? We're #1 in the South, #5 in the nation, at least by these rankings. Our nearest SEC competition is Mizzou at #11 and I'm a bit baffled by the University of Florida's lack of appearance, at least early on in the list. Weird. UGA's speech comm program is further down the list too. Just so you understand, this list includes mass and speech comm, with in some places are together and in others far far apart. That's why UNC appears twice.

You can alter the list some depending on how you want to weight it, and we turn out high in terms of student outcomes (i.e., doc students getting jobs). If you order it by lower tuition, we're #2 in the nation. We drop when you order it by minority students and faculty, but not out of the Top 20, and our female to faculty ratio puts us at #3.

So what's this all mean? Not a lot, but it's comforting to see even if I don't deal a lot any more with doctoral students (I'm on, I think a couple of committees, but rarely if ever do I rate a class taught only at the doctoral level).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Oldest Web Pages at UGA

So, you ask, who was first at UGA on the web? Of course you asked that. I heard you.

First, keep in mind the web, as in the World Wide Web, is a relatively recent advance. The Internet has been around, technically, since 1969. (As an aside, I first went online in 1987. It was January. It was raining). The web was invented in 1989 but it was the mid-1990s before it truly became a factor for most folks. I think I played with it some in 1991 or 1992. Too long ago to remember.

Now, back to my point.

Using the magic of the Way Back Machine, we can see UGA's first page appears in February 1997. Not bad. Not great, mind you, but not bad -- and it beats UF by a couple of months, at least as measured by accessing of the Way Back Machine. I agree this is not a perfect measure, but it's what I have, so here are some of the likeliest UGA colleges. I omitted newer ones because, after all, they weren't around.

Oldest First UGA Pages
  • Grady College (journalism) -- Nov. 6, 1996. First, always, even before UGA itself.
  • Family & Consumer Sciences -- Jan. 19, 1997
  • Terry College (biz) April 8, 1997 (UPDATED, see comments below)
  • Ecology -- June 18, 1997
  • Pharmacy -- June 27, 1997
  • Education college -- July 6, 1997
  • VetMed -- Jan. 30, 1998
  • Forestry (later Warnell) (May 30, 1998)
  • Franklin College (arts & sciences) -- Dec. 12, 1998
  • Law -- July 28, 2001 (sigh, lawyers)
It's possible the names of the URLs changed, so maybe was something else before and I missed it. My initial search for Warnell, as an example, didn't make sense, so I searched for and sure enough they'd been around longer. I tried and for Terry, but nothing popped up. I can't believe they didn't have a site until 2000, but then again, maybe they saw no money to be made in the whole Internet thing. I'm guessing I have the wrong URL somehow before they adopted

Why was Grady a bit ahead of the UGA curve? Credit Scott Shamp and the old "mega-lab" that did some of our early Internet stuff, which later became the Dowden Center, which eventually became the New Media Institute here at Grady. Shamp is now at FSU doing some administrative crud, but when here his students were among the first at UGA to mess with the web.

Corrections or additions welcome. I didn't spend time typing in every possible URL out there, though I suspect at least some had to predate Grady.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017's Happiest Places -- Sorta

Source: WalletHub

Wallethub, which loves to crank data and create clickable shareable content, has its 2017 happiest cities to live list out. Click on the link and you can sort the list lots of different ways, the most obvious one being by rank. California dominates among the highest ranking cities. The first Georgia city, Atlanta, comes in at #83.

Athens, Georgia, where I live and pretend to work, is not on the list. At all. Mainly because Athens, though a metro area, isn't among the 150 biggest cities in the U.S. We missed the cut, basically. Way missed it. By one list, we're 218th largest metropolitan area with a population of 213,189. The metro area with at #150, on that same list, has 340K. If we go by city population rather than metro area, we're at #221 in population. So either way you crank the numbers, we're not even close to the 150 mark and being included on this particular list.

How would Athens do if it did make the list? I'm not about to crank all the weighted data listed on Wallethub's methodology page, so you'll just have to wonder, but we'd have to score higher than Atlanta.

Oh, Detroit and Cleveland score the worst. Coming in at the third worst is Augusta, Georgia, surprising absolutely no one who has spent time there. Columbus, Georgia, is also high -- in terms of being the worst. So congrats to those Georgia cities for being noticed, if in a bad way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Huh? Fluid-Crystallized Intelligence

As I scoured academe for stuff to blog about, I came across this study. Here's the abstract. Bold face emphases are mine.
Using the theory of fluid-crystallized intelligence, we argue that with growing age, political discussion becomes less important as a complement to news exposure in political knowledge building. We applied moderated mediation analyses to the survey data of N = 69,125 German respondents. The data supported the hypothesis that news exposure influences political discussion, which in turn leverages political knowledge. As expected, we showed that news exposure is more strongly associated with political discussion for younger age groups. The results are discussed with regard to how to integrate a psychological lifespan perspective into further research on knowledge acquisition.
Theory of fluid-crystallized intelligence? Wow. I used to think of myself as moderately well read in the political knowledge literature, but this one kinda frightens me. Sadly, I don't have access to the full manuscript, just the abstract, even with my office computer and IP#. Essentially this seems to be saying age matters. The older you get, the less important talking to people matters in political knowledge. It's based on a huge survey of 69,125 Germans. I wish I had access to the full study so I could peek at it further, but it may be some form of the Eurobarometer, but that seems less likely now that I think of it, as it's a survey of all of western Europe, not just Germany.

I did dig something up on this theory. Here's an older piece that says as you get older, you get less intelligent. Has to do with the plasticity of the brain, best I can tell.