Thursday, August 31, 2006

Godless countries favor abortion: My international dataset is growing, so I hope to find some interesting patterns (at least interesting for nerds of my variety). I looked at the World Values Survey to see which countries are most pro-abortion, and this is the proportion of people who approve of an abortion if a woman does not want more children. (This variable correlates with favoring an abortion because mom is not married at .88, so results with either would be similar).

Proportion approving of an abortion because no more kids are wanted:

Sweden (1999) .86
Bulgaria (1999) .82
Germany East (1999) .77
Hungary (1999) .76
Czech Republic (1999) .76
Slovenia (1999) .75
Russian Federation (1999) .74
Denmark (1999) .72
Estonia (1999) .71
Belarus (2000) .68
Lithuania (1999) .65
Latvia (1999) .64
Ukraine (1999) .63
France (1999) .62
Croatia (1999) .60
Romania (1999) .57
Greece (1999) .55
Finland (2000) .54
Slovakia (1999) .52
Iceland (1999) .50
Netherlands (1999) .49
Germany West (1999) .49
Great Britain (1999) .49
Austria (1999) .45
Belgium (1999) .42
Turkey (2001) .41
Portugal (1999) .40
Poland (1999) .37
Luxembourg (1999) .36
Italy (1999) .31
Northern Ireland (1999) .18
Malta (1999) .16
Ireland (1999) .13

The pattern is very clear here: Protestant and Orthodox countries (which, in actuality, are likely to be irreligious) generally approve of abortion more than Catholic countries. (Hungary is an exception). This is no surprise, but Orthodoxy has the same basic view of abortion that Catholicism has. It clearly has less influence over the values of its adherents. I imagine the Soviets teaching children in school not to believe in God (or was that Dover MA where that happened?) might have something to do with that.

Across 33 countries, I calculated the correlation between the percent not believing in God and the share of people who favor abortion to control family size. It is .68: there is a strong connection here. I never liked abortion even when I was an atheist, but evidently as soon as God goes out, it's bring in the abortionist.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The religious shall inherit the earth: I wanted to quantify the pattern of religious people having more children than the irreligious. Starting with the U.S, the General Social Survey (2004) indicates that Americans who never go to church average 1.67 kids: it's 2.25 for those who go weekly and a slightly lower 2.14 for those who go more often. By the way, the fertile "attends weekly" group is not fringe: it is the modal category of religious behavior in America.

As for the world, I looked at the World Values Survey and calculated that those who never attend religious services have 1.72 children, compared to 2.47 for those going more than once a week. (I suspect that this sample is a bit skewed toward more developed countries).

I'm reminded of William James' statement that (went something like) believers will always have more vitality than non-believers.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Democrat party is not the party of the little man: When Democrats say they are the party of the little man, they mean they are the party of the black man (even if he is rich--18% of blacks make more than I do). The General Social Survey reveals that 53% of poor whites (individuals making less than $17,500/year) voted for Bush in 2000 (2004 data are not available). And Democrats are wrong to paint Republicans as the party of fat cats: 62% of whites in the richest category ($110,000+/year) voted for Bush, but that is practically the same share as for whites of all incomes--59%. Sixty percent of the whites who voted Republican make less than $50,000 annually.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Atheism rises with economic development and average IQ: The World Values Survey asked respondents whether or not they believed in God. I was suprised how national results ranged from most people to nobody being atheists:

Percent who do not believe in God:

Vietnamese 81.2
East Germany 69.7
Czech Republic 61.1
Estonia 48.6
Sweden 46.6
Japan 42.6
France 38.5
Slovenia 34.8
Bulgaria 33.8
Hungary 31.9
Denmark 31.1
Russia 29.7
Belgium 29.0
Great Britain 28.1
Luxembourg 26.8
West Germany 23.1
New Zealand 20.8
Latvia 20.5
Australia 19.9
Ukraine 19.7
Serbia 17.6
Finland 17.5
Slovakia 17.2
Belarus 17.1
Montenegro 17.0
Iceland 15.6
Armenia 14.4
Lithuania 13.5
Spain 17.1
Uruguay 13.3
Austria 13.2
Singapore 12.9

World 12.4

Bosnia and Herzegovina 12.0
Canada 10.7
Macedonia 9.5
Greece 9.1
Albania 8.3
Northern Ireland 6.8
Georgia 6.8
Croatia 6.8
Italy 6.5
India 5.3
Kyrgyzstan 5.0
USA 4.4
Ireland 4.3
Moldova 4.0
Romania 3.7
Argentina 3.7
Portugal 3.1
Chile 3.0
Poland 2.7
Turkey 2.2
Azerbaijan 2.2
Mexico 2.0
Peru 1.5
South Africa 1.2
Brazil 0.9
Colombia 0.9
Portugal 3.1
Puerto Rico 0.8
Tanzania 0.7
El Salvador 0.6
Iran 0.6
Uganda 0.6
Philippines 0.6
Bangladesh 0.5
Malta 0.5
Nigeria 0.3
Algeria 0.2
Jordan 0.2
Saudi Arabia 0.1
Indonesia 0.1
Morocco 0.0
Pakistan 0.0
Egypt 0.0

It does not please me to write that smarter countries are more atheistic because I consider myself a believer (probably "hoper" is the more correct term) but thems the facts. Europe and Asia are the most skeptical regions, and they are also the most intelligent. There are several smart, believing countries, however (smart=95+ means): Singapore (103), Italy (102), Poland (99), USA (98), Canada (97), Argentina (96), and Portugal (95). From what I can see, there isn't a single atheistic country that is stupid. Unintelligent countries are uniformly believers. And it appears that the religious atmosphere in many Muslim countries snuff out any atheism whatsoever (at least you can't find people willing to admit that they are non-believers.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Puerto Ricans are the proudest people in the world. Can't imagine why. Must be the beaches: Participants in the World Values Survey were asked if they are proud of their nationality. The following percent answered "very proud":

Percent saying they are very proud of their nationality

Puerto Rico 95.6
Iran 92.2
Venezuela 92.1
Philippines 87.5
El Salvador 86.6
Morocco 85.9
Colombia 85.0
Portugal 82.4
Egypt 81.9
Tanzania 81.6
Pakistan 81.5
Mexico 79.5
Dominican Republic 78.6
Iraq 77.6
Peru 76.8
USA 76.1
Australia 76.0
South Africa 75.2
Malta 74.8
Saudi Arabia 74.6
Chile 74.0
Albania 73.6
Vietnam 73.4
Ireland 73.3
Bangladesh 73.1
Poland 72.2
Nigeria 72.0
India 70.2
Argentina 69.4
Jordan 68.2
New Zealand 68.0
Canada 67.6
Iceland 67.0
Georgia 65.2
Uganda 66.2
Brazil 66.0
Spain 64.4
Slovenia 59.0
Macedonia 58.1
Finland 58.3
Greece 56.0
Turkey 55.5
Hungary 54.9
Israel 54.4
Austria 53.9
Luxembourg 53.2
Great Britain 50.9
Denmark 49.7
Romania 47.3
Kyrgyzstan 46.7
Armenia 45.9
Singapore 45.3
France 44.7
Sweden 43.7
Italy 42.2
Croatia 43.6
Serbia 41.6
Latvia 40.4
Bosnia and Herzegovina 39.0
China 37.9
Bulgaria 36.6
Russia 34.9
East Germany 34.1
Montenegro 33.0
Japan 32.5
Belarus 31.7
Northern Ireland 30.5
Czech Republic 30.0
Ukraine 28.7
Slovakia 26.5
Belgium 25.4
Estonia 24.5
Lithuania 24.4
Netherlands 24.3
Moldova 23.4
Korea 20.8
West Germany 14.4

From what I can see, the proudest people often have the least reason to be so. Logically, you would expect people to think a lot of their country if it has contributed a lot, if it has been comparatively moral, or at least dominant. Evidently, the opposite is to be true. Latin, Muslim, and African countries are the proudest, and let's face it, are unexceptional. West Germany's ranking at the bottom makes sense I suppose, but don't Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, Schumann, Strauss, and Wagner compesnsate a little (just to name composers)? And why do the Dutch feel so bad about themselves? Have they forgotten Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Gogh, Escher, just to list the painters?!

Pride might indicate an underlying sense of inferiority, while a lack of pride is seen in an achievement-oriented people who don't want to get cocky (or at least don't want to express a proud attitude). At an individual level, accomplished people are often hardest on themselves, and one's feeling about his nation might be tied to his feelings about himself.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Believe it or not, among wealthy countries America is the most altruistic: The World Values Survey asked people how important it was to them to serve others. The following is the percent who answered "very important":

Percent saying serving others is very important to them:
Puerto Rico 78.8
Morocco 67.8
Venezuela 67.7
Jordan 67.0
Mexico 63.6
Iran 62.1
Nigeria 62.0
Egypt 61.8
Tanzania 58.6
Philippines 57.5
Argentina 56.6
Chile 53.4
USA 51.2
Peru 49.4
South Africa 49.2
Uganda 47.9
Bangladesh 46.8
India 46.6
Canada 42.4
Saudi Arabia 40.8
Serbia 37.9
Sweden 37.3
Indonesia 36.5
Pakistan 33.2
Moldova 32.2
Spain 30.2
Kyrgyzstan 25.4
Albanian 19.9
Bosnia and Herzegovina 17.6
Vietnam 16.2
Singapore 15.9
China 15.6
Macedonia 14.5
Montenegro 13.3
Korea 10.8
Japan 8.6

The regional pattern: East Asia and SE Europe, low; Latin America, Muslim, and African, high; and developed countries, moderate. It's interesting that an altruistic spirit has little to do with how well a country actually serves the needs of its people. The service-oriented nations in the list generally do a poor job. In fact, Japan and Korea--the last two on the list--have produced successful societies without a strong feeling of duty to others. Western countries have created high levels of well-being with only very moderate amounts of altruism.

And while the United States has the reputation of a gang of heartless capitalists, it ranks as the most service-minded country among developed nations.

I can examine this more systematically when I have finished building a data set, but these patterns might reflect the religious culture of the people. The Catholic Church may have taught Puerto Ricans to believe in the importance of serving others, even if they don't always do it. On the other hand, Japanese people might be good neighbors, even though they don't have the same kind of religious culture.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wealthy countries are the most trusting: Using the World Values Survey, I plan to develop a "personality" profile of regions around the world, much as I have been doing with American ethnic groups. As a first step, let's look at a country's level of cynicism. People all around the world were asked if most people try to take advantage of you: others were asked if it's true that you can't be too careful with people. Here are the results, from most to least cynical:

Percent saying most people try to take advantage of you
Moldova 83.3
Turkey 81.4
Peru 73.0
Morocco 71.4
Chile 70.9
Nigeria 70.8
Bosnia/Herzegovina 70.7
Mexico 69.8
Macedonia 69.5
Uganda 69.7
Venezuela 67.5
South Africa 67.4
Japan 66.4
Algeria 66.4
Pakistan 65.8
Puerto Rico 62.2
Bangladesh 61.6
Jordan 61.4
Argentina 60.6
India 59.5
Albania 57.5
Kyrgyzstan 55.4
Korea 54.4
Tanzania 52.7
Saudi Arabia 51.3
Singapore 51.0
Egypt 50.9
Spain 50.5
Iraq 43.5
USA 38.2
Iran 34.1
Canada 33.2
Indonesia 32.4
Vietnam 27.4
China 20.4
Sweden 12.6

Percent saying you can't be too careful with people
Brazil 97.2
Peru 95.0
Philippines 94.5
Puerto Rico 93.9
Turkey 93.5
Macedonia 91.8
Colombia 89.6
El Salvador 85.4
Slovenia 84.4
Argentina 82.5
Nigeria 82.3
Poland 82.1
South Africa 81.8
Georgia 81.3
Romania 81.3
Azerbaijan 79.5
Pakistan 79.4
Bangladesh 79.1
Estonia 78.5
Chile 78.1
Lithuania 78.1
Uruguay 77.9
Moldova 77.8
Hungary 77.3
Russia 76.1
Belarus 75.9
Armenia 75.3
Latvia 75.3
East Germany 75.1
Croatia 74.8
Dominican Republic 73.4
Albania 73.1
Slovakia 73.0
Bosnia and Herzegovina 71.7
Czech Republic 71.5
Bulgaria 71.4
Spain 70.2
Serbia 70.2
Korea 69.7
Great Britain 69.0
Ukraine 69.0
Mexico 68.8
Montenegro 67.7
USA 64.4
India 62.1
Australia 60.1
Switzerland 59.0
West Germany 58.2
Japan 54.0
Finland 51.2
New Zealand 50.8
China 47.7
Sweden 40.3

I see a few patterns here: Developed countries are the most trusting. China, however, is an example of a trusting, less developed nation. Other Asian countries also tend to be less cynical (the Philippines being a strong exception). As a group, Latin American countries are cynical, which contradicts my image of the gregarious Hispanic. Muslim, Eastern European, and Sub-Saharan African countries are on the cynical side (Iraq and Iran are important exceptions).

The explanation of these patterns is not clear, but attitudes may in some degree reflect experience. For example, a country like Sweden is an orderly, honest society, so living there inspires faith in human nature. A history of government corruption might be part of the story. Steve Sailer argues that high rates of cousin marriage create tightly-knit clans who are suspicious of each other, which might explain some of the Muslim cases. Do you see a connection between ethnic diversity and mistrust? I'm not sure. America seems to be on the less trustful end of wealthy countries. I plan to build a data set, so I can calculate correlations between variables like these.
Americans Muslims make the "Religious Top 10 List": My earlier post showed that greater support for terrorism is sometimes seen among more religious Muslims (I emphasize sometimes). The General Social Survey asks people how often they attend religious services. Here is the top ten list:

1. National Baptist Convention of America
2. National Baptist Convention USA
3. African Methodist Episcopal Zion
4. Other Baptists
5. Evangelical Lutheran
6. Merged Presbyterian
7. Methodists (non-United)
8. Muslims
9. WI Evangelical Lutheran Synod
10. African Methodist Episcopal

Baptists in the number one spot go to church an average of almost once per week: for Muslims it's maybe twice a month. I'm mystified why the GSS does not ask if you're Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, etc., so we don't know about those groups. On the other end of the scale, the religious slackers are Buddhists, Jews, and Native Americans.
Jews vs. Episcopalians, Part V: We've seen thus far that these two groups are similar in several ways (expect for income, where Jews make more). Let's finish up with a look at religious and political participation. Jews are one of these least religious groups in the country, at least as indicated by frequency of attendance at religious services. The average Jew goes perhaps a few times a year, whereas Episcopalians (Es) average about once a month. The numbers even out, however, when we broaden the question to membership in some kind of organization related to religion: 37% of Jews and 35% of Es says yes to this question.

As for politics, Jews are, not surprisingly, more liberal: only 22% voted for Bush in 2000, while 53% of Es did. Thirty-eight percent of Jews have given money to a political cause or candidate: for Es, the number is 33%. Fifty-six percent of Es have lobbied local politicians on some issue: 52% of Jews have. For higher-level officials, it's 52% of Jews and 50% of Es.

So along the dimensions I've looked at, these groups look quite similar, except that Jews have higher incomes, yet vote Democrat. The higher incomes might be explained simply by the fact that the average Jew lives in a city of 1.7 million people, while Es live in cities averaging only 450,000. (Both are concentrated on the east and west coasts). The two groups work similar hours: 41.2 hours/week for Jews and 42.4 for Es (this includes part-time workers).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

If a Muslim is more religious, is he more in favor of terrorism? I was interested in this question, so I analyzed recent data from the World Values Survey. In two countries--Pakistan and Algeria--thousands of people were asked if they approved of 9/11, as well as being asked how often they attend religious services.

Results differed for the two countries. First, 22.4% of Algerians approved (or strongly approved) of the attacks, whereas only 3.5% of Pakistanis did. In Algeria, more religious people were slightly more supportive: 26% of those going to services more than once a week favoring the terrorism: 21% of those who never go were supportive. By contrast, only 0.4% of frequent attenders in Pakistan were pro-terrorist, while 14.4% of those who rarely attend were.
The narrowest of victories: Jews 110, Episcopalians 109: Using the vocabulary test data from the General Social Survey, I estimated the IQs for American Jews and white Episcopalians (Es) (about 10% of Es are black). Setting the American white average at 100, Js come in at 110, which doesn't surprise me, and Es weigh in at 109, which makes them surprisingly similar to Jews. My Jewish estimate is lower than La Griffe's, which is 116. One reason mine is lower might be that La Griffe studied Ashkenazi Jews, and while most Jews are in the GSS sample are also Ashkenazi, 150,000 Jewish Americans are Sephardic--a group with a lower average IQ.

Studies of Jewish IQ have also noted more variation than in general populations, but according to the GSS, the standard deviation is only slightly larger than that of all white Americans (or Es).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jews vs. Episcopalians, Part III: Let's continue to gain perspective on two of America's important religious groups. A very simple question is: which group is bigger? According to the General Social Survey, 1.99% (or 5.9 million) of Americans are Jewish, and 2.02% (or 6 million) are Episcopalian. Almost identical in size.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Jews vs. Episcopalians, Part II: We saw in Part I that Jews (Js), on average, have larger incomes than Episcopalians (Es), but is that simply due to higher status jobs? I looked at average occupational prestige scores (that range from 0 to 100) and found that it was 51.7 for Js and 49.5 for Es. This is not much of a difference.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jews vs. Episcopalians, Part I: I thought it would be interesting to compare two high-status religious groups in America. The General Social Survey does not allow us to look at elites within these two communities, but we can see how groups compare overall. Let's begin with income. For 2004, the average Jew is roughly $60k, while the typical Espicopalian is approximately $40k, so there is no comparison in terms of income.

I also noticed that Episcopalians have a larger standard deviation which indicates a broader range of incomes within this group.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Do you have to be dishonest to be successful? Watching politicians all these years has made me wonder if only crooks rise to the top of society. (At least I feel this way in my cynical moments.) The General Social Survey offers more hopeful evidence. Occupational prestige ranges from 0 to 100: here are the averages at each level of disapproval of cheating on taxes:

It's not wrong 37.9
It's a bit wrong 43.2
It's wrong 43.0
It's seriously wrong 44.7

More successful people are less permissive of tax evasion, not more. Now granted, this is attitude and not behavior, but the two are probably correlated. I imagine that envy makes it easy for us to exaggerate the flaws of people above us.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Vulva Puppet!!!

I got to thinking that I was a bit unfair in the previous post--I must admit that feminism has given us the...vulva puppet!!! You've got to own one of these cute, cuddly things for yourself, so go to:
The wondrous blessing of feminism: Feminists cherish female autonomy and have thus championed the pursuit of a career. Abortion freedom has become a core value of liberals because it also preserves independence. Sociologists have established that the main cause of the increase in divorce over the last 5 decades is the movement of women into the workplace. (And sociologists would rather suffer genital electrocution than produce a conservative finding). So tens of millions of our young ones have either experienced the divorce of their parents or, slightly worse, death in order to keep women freer. Seems like the cost is a tad heavy, but at least women are happier. Uhm, no they're not: according to the General Social Survey, women are not one bit happier than they were in 1972. Death and trauma reign down on our little ones for nothing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Misanthropy at Time: Barbara Ehrenreich opined in Time magazine last week that the reason why there is a shortage of men in college is that they are lazy and party-minded. Of course, if a man had the audacity to suggest that women might be few in number in university math departments because of some personal trait--in this case math stupidity--he would be called a misogynist, and he might lose his job. According to the GSS, the average male college student goes to a bar once a month; the typical female student, several times a year. This is not enough a difference, nor is it indicative of enough male irresponsibility to explain why 60% of college students are girls.
George Orwell once expressed his guiding belief, an idea which has caused the world so much gotdamn trouble: "The oppressed are always right, the oppressors are always wrong."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Note sent to Steve Sailer on narrowing black-white IQ gap:


For what it's worth, GSS vocabulary data support Flynn and Dicken's finding that black and white IQs have converged a bit. The gap went from .79 standard deviations (SDs) in the 1970s to .62 in this decade--a narrowing of .17 SDs. I looked at recent data, and the age group with the highest vocab scores were born in the late 50s and early 60s. Perhaps they escaped both the environmental deficits of segregation and the more recent meltdown of black families and neighborhoods and the takeover by hip hop culture.

Gay men are the smartest: I have long suspected that gay men are, on average, smarter than straights. This impression has come from several different places, but perhaps it has been sharpest when reading about English intellectual elites (e.g., Wilde, Forster, Keynes, Auden). The pattern is weaker for lesbians but seems plausible. The General Social Survey asked 8,500 people about sexual orientation and also gave them a vocabulary test, which is a rough measure of IQ. Here are the results:

Mean score (out of 10) on vocab test:
Gay men 6.67
Lesbians 6.55
Straight women 6.20
Straight men 6.10
Bisexual women 5.76
Bisexual men 5.38

With a standard deviation of roughly 2, gay men are clearly smarter (at least in verbal IQ) than their hetero counterparts, but the gap is not as big as, say, between Jews and non-Jews. (Jews averaged 7.65 on this test). Lesbians also outscore straight women, and as we have seen with other indicators of functioning, bisexual women and especially men fall to the bottom. While homosexuality does not seem to indicate maladjustment, bisexuality does.

Now it is possible that smarter people may reject convention more often than others and select themselves into homosexuality, but perhaps there is some other mechanism here. Perhaps homosexuals are drawn to environments that are more accepting of them which also happen to be rich verbally. One might argue that homosexuals enjoy the female advantage in verbal ability, but this must also apply to lesbians who have a high average, and both of these groups surpass straight females by quite a bit. Perhaps it's more self-selection for lesbians, and hyper-femaleness for gay men. Gay achievement might be explained by a fortunate combination of male competitive drive with female verbal fluency. Other ideas?

Are gun owners mentally ill?

  Some anti-gun people think owning a gun is a sign of some kind of mental abnormality. According to General Social Survey data, gun owners ...