Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Demographics: 1; Gentrification Hysteria: 0

Xenophobic anti-gentrification hysteria at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographics and bad journalism.

Subject Article: "When Brooklyn juries gentrify, defendants lose."

Other Links: 1. Urban Dictionary entry for "groovy uvy".
2. ".@zephoria Not even if you count Hispanic people is Brooklyn 50% white. @nypost should correct that article."
3. "Population of Kings County, New York: Census 2000 and 2010 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Graphs, Quick Facts."

Postscript: Xenophobia is deeply ingrained in our society. It's a bias that informs poor analysis. Nate Silver takes down the New York Times:

I warned you to be suspicious of novel theories about the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his Republican primary last week. It probably had something to do with Cantor’s identification with the Republican establishment at a time when it is deeply unpopular. But to the extent that Cantor’s defeat was like an earthquake, that means we can’t pin down its causes all that precisely. We might even think of it as having been somewhat random. Why did Cantor’s district give way when so many others held? (Only 1 to 2 percent of Republicans running for re-election to the House of Representatives have been denied their nomination since 2010.)

But here’s one such theory, as described by a New York Times article published Sunday: Perhaps Cantor’s defeat — and the near-defeat of Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi — has something to do with migration patterns. If more people are moving into areas where they are less familiar with the incumbent, perhaps the incumbency advantage has waned. ...

... But it’s less clear that this has much to do with migration patterns, or at least not in the way that The New York Times proposes. More of the evidence contradicts rather than supports its hypothesis, in fact.

The theory doesn’t align well with the results in Virginia. If migration to Virginia was a major contributor to Cantor’s defeat, you’d expect Cantor to have done worse in counties where there were more transplants.

Instead — as can be seen in the graphic below — there was essentially no relationship between the percentage of the population that was born outside Virginia (as based on American Community Survey estimates) and the share of the vote that Cantor received in a county.

The newspaper jumped to the newcomer conclusion because that's the stock stereotype at hand. Silver has carved out a career using social science techniques to dispel the mythologies of conventional wisdom. Outsiders change things, except when they don't.

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