Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Race and altruism


















As a follow-up to the last post, I used GSS data to investigate racial differences in altruism. The only significant differences are that Mexican Americans are more likely to give money to a needy neighbor, and both Mex-Ams and blacks are more likely to loan money to friends, family, etc. This can be explained in terms of greater opportunities to help: both groups have more friends, relatives, and neighbors who are in need. The overall picture here seems to be no differences, or whites slightly lower.

7 comments:

sabril said...

There must be some confounding factor which is screwing up the results. From simple observation, it seems pretty clear that blacks are far less altruistic than whites.

Anonymous said...

Black and Hispanic cultures are generally more group oriented (I would predict Asians would score high on this too).

togo said...

Hispanics are family-oriented rather than group oriented-at least in their own countries. Those outside the family-and likely some close friends-are generally treated with polite indifference.

There must be some confounding factor which is screwing up the results. From simple observation, it seems pretty clear that blacks are far less altruistic than whites.
I think blacks have a tendency to exaggerate their positive characteristics.

Dahlia said...

I've observed the disparity in blood donation first hand. At my church, the blood mobile comes about once every several weeks.

Once when we were much earlier than normal, I noticed on the way to our Mass that there was a long line of Mexicans for the blood mobile (the Spanish Mass lets out about 30 minutes before ours begins). Afterward Mass ended, my husband and I both went and donated blood with a few other people, one of whom was an English speaking Mexican (and married to a white guy). Puzzled, I asked the aide taking care of me what was up with the disparity. She told me that it was always like that and didn't know why.

Pure altruism is the only explanation as there is nothing to be gotten out of it. Also, there are no tangible immediate results for this charity. For the Mexicans, they sacrifice even more of their time due to the longer wait from so many volunteers being processed by the same small staff.

Anonymous said...

Could this analysis be re-run to account for differences in churchgoing, which is known to correlate with some types of altruism?

sabril said...

"I think blacks have a tendency to exaggerate their positive characteristics."

I think that's probably true, compared to other races. I remember reading somewhere that if you ask people to rate their own math ability on a scale of 1 to 10, blacks score highest, followed by whites then orientals.

Actually, it occurs to me that's a big problem with the GSS. For some issues, it's risky to rely on self-reporting.

Ron Guhname said...

Right, you have to be cautious. Blacks have the highest self-assessed intelligence, while Asians have the lowest. Puerto Ricans are the proudest nationality, while West Germans and South Koreans are least proud.

http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2006/08/puerto-ricans-are-proudest-people-in.html