Sunday, May 28, 2006

When it comes to the environment, Italian and Mexican immigrants are the worst: A reader asked how immigrants feel about the importance of protecting the environment. GSS respondents were asked about federal spending in this area, and the higher the average listed below, the more immigrant groups felt that we spend too much:

1. Scots 1.61
2. Italians 1.57
2. Other Asians 1.57
4. Mexicans 1.55
5. Filipinos 1.53
6. Russians 1.52
7. Chinese 1.49
8. Irish 1.49

Native-born 1.47

9. Puerto Ricans 1.46
10. Indians 1.43
11. Spain 1.40
12. Poles 1.38
13. English/Welsh 1.37
14. Germans 1.35
15. Africans 1.31

Overpopulation degrades the environment as well, so I looked to see which immigrant groups were having the highest mean number of children:

1. West Indians 2.45
2. Puerto Ricans 2.41
3. Mexicans 2.25
4. Italians 2.22
5. Filipinos 2.02
6. Spain 1.89
7. Greeks 1.88
8. Africans 1.87
9. English/Wales 1.83
10. Irish 1.74
11. Poles 1.73
12. Scots 1.69
13. French 1.65
14. Germans 1.64
15. Russians 1.59
16. Other Asians 1.47
17. Indians 1.26
18. Chinese 1.22
19. Arabs 1.10
20. Japanese .93

I then combined the rankings to come up with an overall ranking of the worst immigrants with respect to the environment. The final tally looks like this:

1. Italians 6
2. Mexicans 7
3. Filipinos 10
4. Puerto Ricans 11
5. Scots 13
6. Irish 18
7. Spain 17
8. Other Asians 18
9. Russians 21
10. English/Welsh 22
11. Poles 23
12. Africans 23
14. Chinese 25
15. Indians 27
16. Germans 28

Per capita, Italian immigrants are the worst, but if we were to look at the total impact, Mexicans would come in first since they are the largest group of immigrants by far. (And in an earlier post, I provided evidence that Italians are, on average, clean people while Mexicans are not.) Six out of 7 of the worst are Catholic groups, but Polish immigrants have few children and pro-environment attitudes. I wonder if some socially conservative immigrants are attracted to America and bring with them the desire to have large families.


  1. I like your blog but not this latests text. The federal goverment DOES spend too much on their "envirementalist" quasi-religion.

    Assuming low spender = worse for envirement and implicitly bad is based on your opinion, not facts.

    I put this one in the "redeming quality" of Mexicans.

  2. Very good point. Frankly, you might be right--I'm not sure. The federal government spends money on counterproductive programs all the time.

  3. Anonymous10:15 PM

    I would say your criterion for caring about the environment are crude.
    Some possible criterion (surveys be damned):
    cleanliness (ie. compare ethnic neighborhoods and countries) Of the few Black ghettoes I've personally seen (Brooklyn), they aren't quite like Intel fab labs.
    effect on the environment - I live in L.A. and always see battered pickups with horrible air quality, and always driven by a Mexican. This is true I suppose of most poor - they drive older, dirtier cars.
    Appreciation of Greenery

    Of course, those are harder to come by.

    Your fertility statistics are similarly crude. It implies that America must be above the optimal population size. Or, every single human is best not born so that the environment is untouched by our sodden hands.

    It may be unfair to judge first generation immigrants.

    Saying you care for the environment means little. I remember reading somewhere about a flight having two ticket prices. One cost more than the other because it's environmental damage was supposedly neutralized. Few chose this option.

    Judging by actions, IQ is probably slightly to moderately related.

    Do you have any data for comparing ethnicities by manners?

  4. Anonymous10:16 PM

    I meant battered pickups with horrible emissions.

    I'm not an environmentalist, BTW, but respect 'capitalist' conservationism, such as buying and maintaining land through private ownership.

  5. I think both spending and fertility are fair measures. But I have no appreciation if the difference between the top and the bottom of the spending measure is significant. Can you project onto an easily appreciated scale the difference between 1.61 for Scots and 1.31 for Africans?

    If the difference is not significant then giving the spending equal weight by using its rank together with the fertility rank could result in a misleading overall ranking.

    Somehow a measure that puts Scots so far from English/Welsh seems suspect to me. Maybe a small-sample problem?

    I really appreciate the work you are doing on this Ron. I hope you can clarify this problem so that the result can be useful.

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  10. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Would you say the same if your ancestory were of Mexican Immigrants? It seems you speak from a cacuasian point of view and have emotional racial remarks without having to analyze the other shoe. Remember Mexico was stolen from the Mexicans before 60% of Mexico was stolen in the Mexican-American war in 1846-1848. Do you really know your American History?


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