Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm heading to snow country for a few days, but the dealer will be back soon enough to feed the numbers addiction in all of us. On an unempirical note, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The other blessings of economic freedom: If you just read my post right below this one, you might say to yourself that, ok economically free countries are rich, but they are both unequal and indifferent to the welfare of others. Wrong on both accounts: using the same sample I just described, I found that economic freedom is positively related to a willingness to help others (.57) and basically unrelated to income inequality (-.14). Evidently, markets create wealth, they distribute it broadly, and the wealth they create gives people the luxury to worry about the well-being of others.
Freedom and national wealth are empirically indistinguisable: Continuing my exploration of cross-national data, I noticed an extraordinarily large correlation between economic freedom and per capita GDP. Sample size was between 30 and 40, and the measures were normally distributed. The Pearson correlation was almost .90. Translation: national wealth and market freedom are almost empirically indistinguishable here. Where you have one, you will have the other.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Discrimination, my ass: I have avoided commentary on this blog, figuring that the last thing the blogosphere needs is another fact-free gasbag, but after reading yet another "achievement gap" article, I really need to vent.

Students of the so-called prejudice problem obsess about race (thereby making ME obsess about race) but there are people with any number of traits that those in power might not want to help. The traditional power-holder has been a Christian, an English speaker, an American by culture, heterosexual, a member of a particular family, a man, and a white. An employer or professor, for example, might have something against people not matching himself in any of these characteristics.

So let's forget the facts for a moment and predict who would be at the bottom of the social ladder on the basis of the preceding points. He, or rather, she would be non-Christian, not good at English, not steeped in American culture, and not white. The woman who fits this desciption perhaps the best is Chinese. So is she at the bottom? Exactly the opposite of correct. She is more likely than a female member of any other American ethnic group to have a bachelor's degree or higher. In fact, according to the General Social Survey, the only men more educated than she are Chinese and Indian men. Discrimination, my ass.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Neo-Nazis are the most hated group in the world: The World Values Survey asked almost 17,000 people from 11 countries(Azerbaijan, Australia, Armenia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Georgia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Uruguay) which group they disliked the most. Here is the ranking:


Percent saying the listed group is most disliked:

1. Neo-Nazis/right extremists 26.9
2. Criminals 23.4
3. Guerrillas 9.2
4. Stalinists/hard-line Communists 7.0
5. Drug traffickers 5.5
6. Capitalists 5.2
7. Homosexuals 5.2
8. Immigrants 5.1
9. Para-military 3.7
10. Radical Maori activists 3.2
11. Anarchists/terrorists 2.0
12. Christians 0.6
13. Members of new religions 0.6
14. Kurds 0.5
15. Muslims 0.4
16. Jews 0.4

To Neo-Nazi folks: you know you are not very popular when the world has more regard for criminals, drug lords, and terrorists than for you. Evidently, your Jewish enemies are winning the PR campaign: they're at the bottom of the hate list. Keep in mind that three of the included countries are former Soviet satellites, and they inflated the anti-Nazi number some. Still, the Swiss, for example, are 3.6 times more likely to dislike most the hard Right compared with criminals (67.5% versus 18.6%). Myself, I'm much more fearful of some scumbag attacking my daughter than guys with shaved heads demonstrating for white rights, but maybe I'm odd.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Diversity breeds murder, inequality does not: A standard finding in criminological research is that homicide is strongly related to inequality: in societies with a big gap between the wealthy and the poor, the poor become resentful and take it out on nearby targets, also poor. This theory always seemed a bit of a stretch to me, the idea that I hate how the Man is screwing me, so I kill some guy at the bar for calling me queer. The theory turned every fist fight into something political. But the macrolevel correlation has been very reliable and very strong, I admit. A little investigation of mine evidently explains what is going on. Past cross-national studies always had a handful of Latin American countries with soaring homicide rates, and we all know that part of world reigns supreme in the rich-poor gap. So these outliers basically determined the size of the correlations. And yes, Latin murders are frequently political and tied to inequality.

But the whole situation changes with the sample I just constructed. I gathered the most recent homicide data for all countries that have published it. Data is now available from all the former Soviet countries. These are relatively equal countries, many of which have horrible violence of the organized crime type. When they are included in the analysis, the inequality-homicide link disappears.

Ethnic heterogenity, on the other hand, does have a significant influence on violence. The correlation between it and male homicide victmization rates is .41; for female victims, it's .48. Diversity breeds distrust and conflict, and can even lead to murder.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do blacks bargain hunt as much as whites? This debate between Steve Sailer (I like) and Malcolm Gladwell (I'm indifferent to) has been very interesting. As is usually the case, my response to this sort of thing is what does the crystal ball (i.e., General Social Survey) say? Are blacks big spenders or bargain hunters, the same as whites?. (By the way, their reputation for cheapskate tipping suggests the latter). According to the GSS, 51.5% of whites (138 out of 268) who bought a car in the past 5 years chose a particular dealership because, after searching out the best price, they decided that it was the place to go. The number for blacks: 47.8% (22 out of 46). A small difference. As much as I'd hoped these data would back up Steve, there's not much evidence here. Keep in mind the black sample is small, and doing one's homework before buying a car is a bit different than face-to-face interactions with a salesman.

I'm pretty much a penny pincher, and I do seem to see quite a few blacks shop where I frequently shop: Walmart, dollar stores, Big Lots. I don't care that being seen there makes me look like a tight wad, and some blacks evidently feel the same. (Of course, this is anecdotal, and I don't know if blacks are truly over-represented or under-represented in these stores.).

Steve (and Posner) might be right, but the process of negotiating the price of a car is to some degree a battle of wits and manipulation, so wouldn't the IQ difference naturally come up as an explanation? If the opponent is weaker, the greedy salesman will exploit that. In the case of blacks it could be general intelligence. In the case of women, it could be less knowledge and haggling skills.
American Indians have poor vocabularies: Let's continue our look at ethnic groups who report multiple races. Among people saying they are American Indian (AI), they answered one of three races: white, black, other. Here are the mean vocabulary scores for these three categories:

Mean vocabulary scores (General Social Survey):

White American Indians 5.52
Black American Indians 4.65
Other American Indians 4.62

As we saw with Hispanics, more white ancestry is associated with higher scores, but having black ancestry does not lower the average. In fact, the average of all blacks is 5.01, so having AI ancestry lowers the scores of blacks. The pure AI average of 4.62 is lower than the non-white Hispanic mean of 5.34. So clearly, AI's do poorly on vocabulary tests. I imagine that some of this is due to low-quality environments--AI's often have worse indicators than blacks.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Do race differences among Hispanics correlate with IQ? I calculated the mean vocabulary scores from the General Social Survey for the following groups:


Mean vocabulary scores for those born in America:

Non-Hispanic white 6.47
White of Spanish descent 5.81
White Hispanic 5.63
Non-white, non-black Hispanic 5.34

Race is self-described: many white Hispanics are actually mestizos. So we see here that this measure of IQ is positively related to how much European ancestry you have. But the gap between Spanish whites and whites from other countries is larger than any other. Spanish whites are more similar to non-white Hispanics than other whites? Perhaps the explanation is more cultural than genetic?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Support for defective fetus abortions are on the decline


After reading's Razib's post on eugenics, I wandered what the trends are in approving of an abortion if there is a good chance of a birth defect. It turns out that support has been dropping for a decade. The percent approving went from 81.8% in 1996 to 72.9% in 2004. 2002-2004 was the biggest two year drop, and I'd be interested to see the 2006 numbers. The samples were all over 850 people, so the numbers should be fairly accurate. Of course, approval numbers are still high, but as genes moves front stage, we might see some backlash.
Men have more energy than women: As a follow-up to the last post, I thought I would compare men and women on energy levels. For men, the mean 3.22, and for women, it's 2.90. To give you an idea of the size of the difference, it's 1/4 of a standard deviation. Women do seem to complain a lot about how tired they are, but then where's the survey question about how much do you complain?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Which ethnic group has the most energy? Americans were asked how much energy they had the past month (General Social Survey). Answers ranged from all the time (1) to none of the time (6). I calculated the mean answer for the large ethnic groups and subtracted it from 6 so that high numbers indicate having abundant energy:


Mean energy score:

Mexicans 3.38
Jews 3.26
Germans 3.16
Italians 3.14
Blacks 3.10

USA 2.97

Irish 2.97
English 2.85
American Indians 2.77

The American Indian estimate squares with my experience, but I am surprised that the black mean is above average. On the other hand, no one works harder to get their grades changed than black students. And don't accuse me of suppressing stats that make Mexicans look good.

Update: I promised myslef that I would include Jews (a religious, not ethnic group in the General Social Survey) when analyzing ethnic differences, and, just like me, I immediately forgot. Their mean energy score is 3.26, so this is a active group, behind only Mexicans.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mexican-Americans are the most arrested of all ethnic groups: In my post on bad behavior, readers would have liked to see more ethnic groups and more serious behavior. Crime was suggested, so let's look at the percent ever arrest. Let's set the minimum sample size to 50:


Percent ever arrested (sample size in parentheses):

Mexicans 17.4 (195)
Spanish 17.2 (64)
Blacks 16.4 (714)
French Canadians 16.3 (92)
American Indians 14.6 (315)
Italians 14.2 (508)
French 13.2 (189)
Scots 11.5 (278)

USA 11.1

Puerto Ricans 11.0 (73)
Danes 11.0 (73)
Irish 10.4 (969)
Germans 10.2 (1,613)
Swedes 9.6 (146)
English/Welsh 8.8 (1,213)
Russians 8.4 (155)
Poles 8.3 (291)
Czechs 8.3 (121)
Hungarians 7.9 (76)
Dutch 7.8 (153)
Austrians 6.5 (77)
Finns 5.3 (75)
Jews 5.1 (237)
East Asians 1.7 (60)

Since some samples are small, it's advisable to look for regional patterns. Poor non-whites are toward the top of the list. So are those from southern European countries. In the earlier post on bad behavior, Catholics did poorly, but here it's more divided: southern Europeans are arrested at high rates, but those from central and eastern Europe are very law-abiding (Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, and Austrians). The Irish fall into the middle ranks. Northern Europeans have few arrests, except for those angry Scots--a trait that gets you arrested. Jews are second from the bottom: they didn't do as well on my "bad behavior index" because they had high numbers on things that don't get you arrested: thinking cheating on taxes is okay; ethnocentricity; homosexuality; infidelity; and promiscuity. East Asians were Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos combined. Only one person in the sample (Filipino) reported an arrest. The sample is still small, and I don't know about you, but I think the estimate is basically correct.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Are smart people crazier? A reader asked if I would look to see if smarter people are more likely to be mentally ill. (Please, if you ever want me to see what the numbers say about anything, just ask). Using General Social Survey data, the mean vocabulary score for those ever having a mental problem is 7.25 (the range is from 1 to 10). For those reporting no problem, the average is 5.98: smarter people are definitely at risk. Surprisingly, the gap narrows for actually receiving help: the average of those who have sought counseling is 6.69; 6.18 for those who never have.

Myself, I must be smart as hell 'cuz I'm one crazy bastard.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

WASPs rule! I wrote in a recent post that I was getting the sense that Americans with Protestant European backgrounds were the best behaved. So I decided to sum all my prior post numbers that dealt with ethnicity and moral behavior to assess this idea systematically. I followed the simple strategy of assigning a rank for each behavior for each of the 8 ethnic groups with sufficiently large sample sizes. Jews were often ignored in previous posts since one must turn to the religion rather than the ethnicity variable to get estimates, but I wanted to include them, so I calculated numbers and then ranks for them.

I included all variables that I have posted on--here's a list of them: okay to cheat on taxes; drinks too much; ethnocentric; dirty house; frequents prostitutes; promiscuous men over 30; feel that infidelity is not wrong; gay; lesbian; husbands and wives who cheat; fathers divorcing mom; women arrested; and promiscuity for men and women and under. I realized that I had not posted on drug abuse so I added that to the rest. I ranked group so high numbers indicate more bad behavior, then I simply summed the 16 rankings for each ethnic group. Here are the totals:


Bad Behavior Index

Blacks 106
Mexicans 85
American Indians 85
Italians 70
Irish 67
Jews 64
Germans 56
English/Welsh 47

My hunch was correct. This pattern coincides with that feeling that goes way back among nativists that the moral quality of the country was slipping with the mass immigration from Catholic, southern and eastern European countries, and more recently in concern over immigration from Mexico.