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Health

Circumcision rates: averages which deceive

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJuly 30, 2013 11:40 AM

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Update 2: No longer accepting comments on this post. Please stop submitting. Thanks. Update: Due to the vociferous and emotive nature of many comments, I am not publishing over half submitted on this post. Just so you know your chances... One thing that I have read repeatedly is that circumcision rates in the United States have fallen over the past generation. For non-Americans in the readership, yes, American males are customarily circumcised even if they are not from a religious or cultural tradition where this is the norm (i.e., they are not Muslim, Jewish, or East or West African). For Americans, yes, circumcision has nothing to do with Christianity (something that would be obvious if more Americans actually read the New Testament, instead of just quoting selective passages from it). But looking more closely at the data it seems that the decline in circumcision is predominantly a function of its collapse as a normative practice in the western states! One might think that this is due to demographic changes in the West, as Hispanics have lower rates of circumcision than non-Hispanics (black or white). But while California had circumcision rates of 22% in 2009, Washington state's was 15%. It seems that Medicaid coverage has a strong effect, but this can't explain all of the variation. In the late 1970s the western states had the same circumcision rates as the northeastern states. Today northeastern states have circumcision rates two to three times higher than in the west. And it doesn't map onto politics either. Extremely conservative (and western) Utah has circumcision rates of 42%. Blue Rhode Island has rates of 76%. Finally,

I want to observe here that the males who were born during the era of diverging circumcision rates are now entering sexual maturity en masse

. This is going to shape the expectations of both sexes, and perhaps result in some surprises for those who relocate to the other coast as they transition to adulthood....

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