RatesbyCounty-2011

A reader posts the above map from the CDC, tracking 2011 gonorrhea rates. He compares it to the maps from Sully’s site on the lack of social mobility and concentrations of African-Americans, which indicate a correlation. I posited yesterday that there is a correlation among those Sully maps and one showing that the highest rate of births to teen mothers is found in the same regions, pretty much. In 2011, the CDC found that 67 percent of the gonorrhea cases in the nation were found in blacks. That’s 17 times the rate among whites. For black males 15 to 19, the rate was 30 times the rate among whites in the same age group. With the exception of some Hispanic majority

This doesn’t tell us that blacks are having any more sex than whites, Hispanics, or Asians. But it does this tell us that they are far more reckless in how they conduct their sex lives. I’m not interested in making a moral judgment about that here, but rather interested to know if this data can be linked causally to the persistence of poverty. We know that poverty is linked to higher rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted disease. The CDC says:

As an example, in 2010, the poverty rates, unemployment rates, and high school drop-out rates for blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Hispanics were considerably higher than for whites, differences commensurate with observed disparities in STD burden.

My question is this: What is the nature of the relationship between sexual practices and poverty? We know that they are closely associated, but in what ways are they associated? The connection between single motherhood and poverty has been very well established. This Jason De Parle story in The New York Times explores how the destinies of women who put off childbearing until marriage, versus those who do not, diverge. Black law professor Ralph Richard Banks writes about how the collapse of marriage culture within black America keeps black Americans in poverty. But I wonder if there are deeper lessons to be learned about the sexual norms within one’s culture and economic mobility. Is the clap map relevant to the discussion? I’m not talking about making a moral point here, but a sociological one.