Sunday, January 25, 2015

Belmont and Fishtown, fictional cities of Charles Murray

“To represent the classes at the two ends of the continuum, I give you two fictional neighborhoods that I hereby label Belmont (after an archetypal upper-middle-class suburb near Boston) and Fishtown (after a neighborhood in Philadelphia that has been white working class since the Revolution). To be assigned to Belmont, the people in my databases must have at least a bachelor’s degree and work as a manager, physician, attorney, engineer, architect, scientist, college professor, or in content-production jobs in the media. To be assigned to Fishtown, they must have no academic degree higher than a high school diploma. If they work, their job must be in a blue-collar, service, or low-level white-collar occupation.

Here’s what happened to the founding virtues in Belmont and Fishtown from 1960 to 2010:

The text covers marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity.

In 1960 9% of the men in Fishtown were not in the labor force; by 2000 it was 30%.  But the unemployment rate was about the same.  The men just didn’t work.  They might get some cash under the table, or work minimally for awhile to qualify for benefits, but then would quit.

Combine men who don’t work with single women raising children, and things don’t look good for Fishtown. Low church attendance and very low civic involvement. Even the men whose income is above poverty level do not participate in the community to make it better and stronger.

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