Study: Wealthy Anti-Vaccine Advocates Have Lower Education Levels

Understanding why anti-vaxxers are ignoring the science.


Without wealthy, white people to make it fashionable you might never have even heard of the anti-vaccine movement. But as we often need reminding, there is no universal truth that a caucasian with good credit is in possession of an education. For the first time, a study is finding just how few science classes the Californians wrecking herd immunity have taken.

If this were a mid-‘90s James Patterson or Michael Crichton thriller, a good title would be The Jim Carrey Complex.

The demographic breakdown — which could help to target families who are keeping their children from vaccines and help better explain why that’s a bad idea — are the findings of a Y. Tony Yang of George Mason University. Yang and his team studied California kindergarteners who were given personal belief exemptions for the vaccines between 2007 and 2013.

Cutting to the chase, here’s the “results” section of the study as published in The American Journal of Public Health. PBE = Personal Belief Exemption.

“The percentage of students with PBEs doubled from 2007 to 2013, from 1.54% to 3.06%. Across all models, higher median household income and higher percentage of White race in the population, but not educational attainment, significantly predicted higher percentages of students with PBEs in 2013. Higher income, White population, and private school type significantly predicted greater increases in exemptions from 2007 to 2013, whereas higher educational attainment was associated with smaller increases.”

Those numbers add up to roughly 17,000 children across over 6,000 California schools opting out of the vaccine schedule. That’s how you wind up with outbreaks of measles and diphtheria in the 21st century.

On the bright side, California is closing the PBE loophole starting with the new year. 2016 is already off to a good start.