Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Opiates in New Hampshire, or, Things are Complicated

The number one state for opiate overdose deaths is West Virginia, which is relatively poor and troubled in other ways. The number two state is New Hampshire:
Which U.S. state had the highest median income in 2016? . . .

New Hampshire.

The Granite State’s median household income last year was a whopping $76,260, nearly 30 percent higher than the national median of $59,039, according to the Census. . . .

One of the chief drivers of New Hampshire’s high median income is its poverty rate, which is the lowest in the nation. Only 6.9 percent of the state’s residents live below the poverty line, compared with a national average of 13.7 percent (in Mississippi nearly 21 percent of people live in poverty).

New Hampshire’s workforce is also among the best-educated in the country, according to previously released census data. Better-educated workers tend to make more money.
New Hampshire also has low inequality.

Economic distress is not the only driver of the opiate crisis.

It might be relevant that low-tax New Hampshire has very little in the way of state-funded addiction help. But I think the fundamental point is that America's current crisis is not economic; economically we are doing ok. It is a crisis of spirit.


Unknown said...

Perhaps addiction simply works on its own principles, which are biochemical and genetic rather than economic, social, etc. Perhaps certain ethnic populations are more genetically prone to opiate addiction than others. Or populations with certain characteristic regional mineral intakes. Etc.

G. Verloren said...

It's worth pointing out that New Hampshire has one of the highest costs of living in the country, which is not taken into account when comparing to federal poverty numbers. This is especially important given that the major comparison made is to Mississippi, which has one of the lowest costs of living.

Earning a larger total income sounds great, but what matters is the percentage of your income that goes to things like rent, food, and other vital needs.

That's not to say that Mississippi is a great place to live, of course. But the reduced cost of living does mean that you don't need as high of a personal income, and that the state's median income can be lower, without there being as much of a practical difference as you might otherwise expect.

Another important factor that doesn't get included here is public goods and services. You don't need to earn as large of an income if the availability of certain public services and resources allows you have to spend less privately.

For example, relying on access to public transportation instead of owning your own vehicle can save you quite a lot in the form of not having to pay for insurance, registration, fuel, maintainenance, the vehicle itself and eventual replacements, et cetera. If you live in an area with lots of public transit, or even just an area where everything you need is in walking distance, that can make a huge difference compared to living in an area where owning a vehicle (or even multiple vehicles) is an absolute necessity.