Monday, July 28, 2008

Forbes' list of top counties to raise a family supports Sailer's Affordable Family Formation strategy

Tangentially related to the last post, for guys like Dennis Mangan who've been toying with the idea of leaving California, I'm familiar with the county Forbes recently listed as the third best of the nation's 3,141 to raise a family* and would be happy to play tour guide and real estate counselor for those interested in settling somewhere in the area.

Here are some vitals (compared to national figures) from 2000:

Percent of the 25+ population with a bachelor's or higher: 47.7 (24.4)
Percent below the poverty line: 5.4 (12.7)
Home-ownership rate: 72.3% (66.2%)
Median household income: $68,013 ($44,334) [without even making cost-of-living adjustments!]

Also, it voted 61%-38% Bush in '04. Too sophisticated for thimble collecting, but not progressive enough for huge welfare caseloads!

Heh, well, can you blame me for hoping the best and brightest make their way here?

Of real interest, though, is how Forbes' list of the top 20 best counties to raise a family in provides more real-world evidence that Steve Sailer's Affordable Family Formation strategy is Republican gold.

The 20 counties are populous, averaging (mean) 325,000 people per county, to the national average of 95,000 per. They are comprised mostly of cities and the political battlegrounds that are the suburbs. Rural areas, which vote Republican throughout the country, are effectively excluded. Eleven of the 20 counties are in states that went for Kerry in '04, and four of the nine counties in states that went for Bush are in the 'swing' states of Florida and Ohio, not sure bets like Nebraska or Oklahoma (neither of which are represented).

Despite these 'odds' seeming to favor Democrats, Bush won 14 of the 20 counties, with an average advantage of 55.3%-44.0%. That includes the brutally unaffordable and anomalous (relative to the rest of the list) Marin County, which backed Kerry 73%-26%.

As the note below explains, the counties taken under consideration are all relatively affluent and have well-educated (intelligent) populations. Forbes separated the wheat by looking at things like cost of living, housing prices, home ownership rates, per-capita income, commute times, and crime rates--all things made worse by an influx of low-skilled immigrants.

* The list's composition is a bit lazy, but still useful for this purpose. Forbes first eliminated most rural areas by knocking off counties with populations under 65,000, then winnowed further by requiring that at least half of per-pupil educational funding come from property taxes, thus favoring counties with high residential real estate prices. Home prices, especially relative to the surrounding area, do proxy well for the desirability of the place. 'Failing schools', 'high crime', 'poverty', and other factors that imply what isn't stated explicitly in polite company determine them. But only after this does Forbes look at SAT and ACT scores. Finally, with 51 counties remaining, it evaluates the following: Cost of living, graduation rate, standardized scores, home price, property tax rate as a percentage of median home price, percentage of homes occupied by owner, per-capita income, air quality, crime rate and commute time.


Howard J. Harrison said...

It's an enlightening article. I had not been aware of Forbes' interesting list. Thanks.

Jim Bowery said...

Forbes first eliminated most rural areas by knocking off counties with populations under 65,000,

Why would they make high population density a criteria?

Audacious Epigone said...


Ease of winnowing down the field I guess. That's the least satisfying part of Forbes' methodology.