Yesterday in the NY Times Economix blog, there was a post by Catherine Rampell about inequality by county.
I felt that there wasn’t anything that useful in there. It’s easier to do this analysis by State. So look at this Wikipedia article listing the Gini coefficient by state.
And then look at this chart showing the murder rate by state.
Notice that there is a very strong correlation between having a low Gini coefficient (which means less inequality) and having a low murder rate. So if people ask, what’s the benefit of having less inequality, the answer might be that it significantly decreases the chance that you will be murdered.
West Virginia is an interesting state to look at. Most of the states with a low murder rate and low Gini coefficient are white states, but West Virginia is one of the top-four whitest states along with Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. But West Virginia has both a higher Gini coefficient and a higher murder rate than the three other whitest states.
There are two factors that increase the Gini coefficient of a state; poor people and rich people. I suspect that West Virginia, although there aren’t many rich people there, has a lot of poor white people living there. This poor white trash commits crime and increases the Gini coefficient.
Vermont is an outlier state because it has a much lower murder rate than is predicted by its average Gini coefficient. Unlike West Virginia which has inequality caused by a lot of poor people, the inequality of Vermont is caused by too many rich people.
Alaska is another interesting outlier state. Alaska has a low Gini coefficient, yet a high murder rate. Maybe it's caused by the labor shortage which causes people who would be poor in any other state to have a middle-class salary. This demonstrates the truth of HBD: you can give a poor person a higher-paying job, but he still acts like a poor person.
I think the lesson of Alaska and Vermont is that people with bad genes cause crime and not inequality, but that getting rid of the people with bad genes tends to lower inequality because then there are fewer poor people around.