Saturday, October 28, 2006

Latin American countries are the most criminal in the world: In response to my point that the U.S. does not have a high property crime rate as predicted by popular theories that claim that love of the market breeds crime, a reader argued that the U.S. would have a high rate if not for astronomical rates of incarceration (the adjective I would use is appropriate). Let's set aside the United States for a moment and look at the rankings of national robbery rates around the world (International Crime Victimization Survey) :

Percent robbed last year

Brazil 11.3
Colombia 10.6
Paraguay 6.7
Argentina 6.6
Tunisia 6.3
Bolivia 6.2
Costa Rica 5.8
Zimbabwe 4.8
South Africa 4.6
Uganda 4.4
Spain 3.1
Philippines 2.4
Botswana 2.0
Egypt 1.9
Polish 1.8
Italy 1.3
England/Wales 1.2
Australia 1.2
Indonesia 1.2
Portugal 1.1
France 1.1
Belgium .9
Sweden .9
Canada .9
China .9
Netherlands .8
W. Germany .8
India .8
Switzerland .7
Denmark .7
New Zealand .7
Scotland .7
USA .6
Finland .6
Norway .5
Austria .2
Northern Ireland .1
Japan .1

According to anti-market theories, countries with the greatest economic freedom should have the most theft. But the 10 worst countries have weak to terrible rankings on economic freedom ( Costa Rica is the best at 46. With the exception of India, the 10 countries with the lowest levels of robbery are highly ranked on economic freedom. The only one who doesn't make the top tier is Japan, and its rank is 27th. If anything, a market orientation reduces theft.

Criminologists love to find an appealing theory that suits their politics. They don't bother to look at the data first. Anti-market theories have reigned in sociology and criminal justice classes for decades, with the one little problem of having no empirical validity.

In the spirit of the name of this blog, what do these data points lead us to conclude concerning the cause of national levels of violent theft? Rates are highest in Latin America and lowest in Europe and Japan. This looks like a simple case of wealth except that Latin American countries are richer and yet more thieving than sub-Saharan African countries. Plus, China and India have low rates. Spain has the highest European rate, and the Tunisian rate is very high.

What about distributions of traits? Hispanics have higher IQs than Africans. The rankings on extraversion, based on a recent post by Agnostic at, don't line up all that well with robbery (although if there is one thing a robber needs to be, it's bold).

Let me complicate things by adding that in my previous post on burglary, Africans exceeded Latin American countries. Is there some reason why Africans would prefer breaking into houses, while Latinos prefer mugging people? Housing in Latin America is more secure?

What is it about Hispanics? Machismo? Any ideas? I did not plan this at all, but isn't it funny how so many of my analyses make one wonder if mass immigration to the U.S. from the south is such a great idea? Now the Tamar Jacoby's of the world will say that Hispanic immigrants have low rates of crime, but she is looking at a little selective slice of the Latin population--an above-average behaving slice. The criminal mean for this international population is very high, and the American descendants of these immigrants regress to that very high mean.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mexicans are (almost) least in favor of free speech: One important indication of assimilation to American society is a belief in free speech. Nothing upsets me more than to hear about some eccentric locked up in a European prison for saying wacky things like there was no Holocaust. They won't lock up actual criminals, but are only too happy to imprison people who say the wrong thing. So let's see which ethnic groups are best assimilated in terms of free speech values. The General Social Survey asked Americans if they feel that anti-religionists should be allowed to speak in their communities. Here is the percent who said yes:

Percent saying anti-religionists should be allowed to speak

Hungarians 81.5
Greeks 79.6
Russians 79.2
Scots 78.9
Yugoslavs 78.2
Swedes 77.8
French 77.3
Norwegians 77.0
Lithuanians 76.5
Filipinos 76.5
English/Welsh 75.4
Italians 74.5
Japanese 73.8
Danes 73.0
Swiss 72.8
Poles 72.8
Irish 72.7
Germans 71.4
Spain 71.4
Finns 71.3

USA 71.2

Belgians 70.7
French Canadians 69.5
Chinese 67.7
Czechs 67.7
Rumanians 67.4
Austrians 66.9
Portuguese 66.2
West Indians 66.0
American Indian 65.1
Blacks 64.8
India 63.2
Arabs 62.5
Mexicans 62.0
Netherlands 61.2
Puerto Ricans 59.3

Roughly speaking, whites and Asians are free speechers, others less so. This, with other evidence I've seen, suggests that white immigrants assimilate best to American society, with Asians being an exception to the rule. Blacks and American Indians show how difficult it can be for non-whites to adopt American ways: they have had hundreds of years to develop a belief in free speech, but have been left behind by even the most recent immigrants. And speaking of recent immigrants (I can never pass up the opportunity to address the Mexican question) Mexicans are almost at the bottom of this list. In an earlier post, they had a similar ranking on the question about allowing racists to speak in public. As Hispanics become a more powerful influence at the ballot box, we might see the day where the things I am writing on this blog could get me a long stretch in the pen.

Monday, October 23, 2006

No surprise: poor people steal the most: Continuing our look at the International Crime Victimization Survey, are the rates of property crime the highest in poor countries or wealthy countries? According to rational choice theory, crime pays more and more as one's legal opportunities for income are diminished. By contrast, routine activities theory claims that property crimes will flourish in places where desirable targets are abundant. A lot is stolen because there is a lot to steal. I list here the percent of all respondents whose dwelling was burglarized in the past year:

Tanzania 19.0
Uganda 11.7
Zimbabwe 10.7
Botswana 10.4
Paraguay 8.2
Costa Rica 7.3
Tunisia 7.2
Bolivia 6.7
South Africa 6.3
Columbia 6.0
Argentina 5.5
New Zealand 4.3
Indonesia 3.9
Australia 3.9
Denmark 3.1
England/Wales 2.8
Egypt 2.6
Italy 2.4
China 2.3
Philippines 2.0
Belgium 2.0
Poland 2.0
Netherlands 1.9
Brazil 1.9
USA 1.8
North Ireland 1.7
Sweden 1.7
India 1.4
Switzerland 1.1
Spain 1.6
Scotland 1.5
Portugal 1.4
Catalonia 1.3
West Germany 1.3
Japan 1.1
France 1.0
Austria 0.9
Norway 0.7
Finland 0.3

The evidence here supports the rational choice view: the worst 11 countries are all poor. (India is an exception, and the number for Brazil is lower than expected). Of course, I haven't mentioned all possible explanations. It might be that countries with lots of crime and poverty have many people with certain traits. An example would be a low average IQ. Sociopathy, impulsivity, present orientation, or laziness are among the other possibilities.

For those familiar with the criminological literature, one of the most interesting numbers is the United States. According to at least two popular theories--strain and institutional anomie--America should lead the world in property crime because it is unique in its worship of the market. Sorry guys--as much as you'd like to vilify the American system and conservatism, the U.S. is mediocre, even among wealthy countries.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A worldwide survey of victims shows racial differences in crime: In Race, Evolution, and Behavior, Phillip Rushton used international law enforcement data (Interpol) to show that blacks globally have higher rates of criminal violence than Asians. Critics have pointed out that the data were collected by disparate national systems, and that Interpol itself says that the data are not comparable. A better approach is to use data from the International Crime Victimization Survey. This survey publishes estimates of crime from nationally representative samples of respondents who are given a list of crimes and are asked if they have been a victim in the past 12 months. Here are the prevalence rates (the percent of the population victimized in the past year) for "assault with force" for the latest year available:

Zimbabwe 6.7%
South Africa 4.6
Botswana 3.7
Uganda 2.4
Indonesia 1.1
China 0.9
Philippines 0.4

This kind of survey data is much more persuasive evidence of worldwide racial differences than officially recorded violent crimes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Europeans are gender stupid: The World Values Survey asked people if they agreed that fathers are as well suited to caring for children as mothers. The sample is basically Europe. Three-quarters of the sample agreed or strongly agreed. The reigning idiots are Swedes: 92% believe daddies and mommies are naturally interchangeable caregivers. Common sense emerges as we descend southward: only 64% of Greeks think this way. People seem equally thick east to west, although more Russians (82%) see things this way than British (71%).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Message to liberals: you don't have to be like your hero Clinton in every respect: It's been a long time since I made liberals look bad, so let's find something--it's not difficult. The data tell us that liberals cheat on their spouses more than conservatives: here is the percent unfaithful in the past year (GSS data):

Extreme liberals 9.1%
Liberals 4.6
Slight liberals 4.1
Moderates 3.1
Slight conservatives 2.7
Conservatives 2.7
Extreme conservatives 3.1

I'm stunned. I thought conservatives were heartless beasts, while liberals will shed a tear if someone steps on a flower. Well, maybe crushing the person you're supposed to care about the most isn't so bad, I mean sexual fulfillment is the greatest thing life has to offer, right? Like I heard on the radio the other day: some liberal said he would bet that the shooter of those Amish children was a Republican. Translation: conservatives love kill people, and liberals love to love people. Yeah, your wife while you're at work.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sexual dimorphism differences across races? I've read that sexual dimorphism is positively correlated with polygyny and less paternal investment, so I looked to see if this might be true across human races that are known to differ on these things. Wikipedia lists height studies from all around the world, so I calculated the percent differences in height between males and females for all available black and Asian samples. The results:

American blacks 8.41%
Japan 7.60
South Korea 8.13
Taiwan 7.72
Singapore 6.21

Male-female differences are consistently smaller for Asian groups than for blacks, but not by much, so interpret as you will.

Friday, October 13, 2006

USA close to world average on wanting authoritarian leader: In Fred Reed's current column, he suggests that America is vulnerable to a shift to authoritarian rule: if President Bush decided to stay in office past his time, who would stop him? No one has stopped him on anything so far.

The World Values Survey asked people if they thought that having a strong leader who doesn't bother with parliament or elections is a good idea. Here is the percentage who answered "very good" or "fairly good":

Vietnam 99.4
Macedonia 73.8
Romania 66.6
Moldova 62.5
Philippines 62.5
Kyrgyzstan 60.6
Brazil 60.5
Ukraine 59.6
India 59.1
Mexico 56.2
Lithuania 55.9
Armenia 53.5
Russia 48.8
Venezuela 47.9
Latvia 47.9
Bulgaria 47.6
Luxembourg 45.0
Chile 43.0
Nigeria 42.6
Argentina 41.7
Jordan 40.5
Colombia 40.3
Belarus 40.3
Algeria 39.1
Iran 39.1
Peru 38.5
Portugal 36.9
Bosnia/Herzegovina 36.6
France 35.2
South Africa 34.2
Pakistan 33.8
Belgium 33.3
Puerto Rico 33.2

World 32.8

Uganda 30.1
USA 29.5
South Korea 28.3
Japan 28.0
Ireland 26.9
Netherlands 26.8
Finland 26.5
Austria 25.6
Great Britain 24.9
Australia 24.8
Slovenia 23.9
Canada 23.2
East Germany 23.0
Singapore 22.6
Poland 22.2
Hungary 21.5
Sweden 21.5
Iraq 19.9
Slovakia 19.8
New Zealand 19.6
Serbia 19.4
Indonesia 19.3
N. Ireland 19.2
Malta 19.1
Morocco 19.1
Spain 19.1
China 18.5
Estonia 18.3
Albania 17.3
Czech Republic 16.7
Italy 15.6
Montenegro 14.8
West Germany 14.5
Denmark 13.9
Croatia 12.1
Bangladesh 11.6
Iceland 10.5
Greece 8.7
Egypt 7.7
Tanzania 2.6

We see that there is a long list of countries less comfortable with the idea of strong man rule than the United States (although some of them are far from actually being democratic). The U.S. survey was conducted in 1999, so it does not reflect post-9/11 feelings.

I also looked at which Americans were most likely to express favorable views. Sex, religion, and religious attendance did not matter, but 43% of the people in the lowest of three educational categories thought a non-democratic leader was a good idea, and 37% of people ages 15-29.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My students are certain that rich people are evil: My students will sit placidly through all sorts of controversial things I say in class; that is, until I say something to the effect that rich people are not monsters. They believe with religious zeal that elites live to see little guys suffer. They make me feel like some sort of traitor when I tell them that the attitudes of the wealthy toward (lower class) criminals are no more aggressive than those of the poor. According to the GSS, 75% of individuals making $110K or more favor the death penalty, but practically the same number of people making under $15K feel the same way (73%).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blacks do not oppose interracial marriage: In the current issue of "American Renaissance," Jared Taylor writes that a feeling against marriage with whites is common among blacks. What may be true of vocal black nationalists may not be true among Jamal-Six-Pack. According to the GSS, less than 10% of blacks have favored a law against interracial marriage over the past 20 years. Now, black folks may be focused on not giving Jim Crow Cracker what he wants, but if their feeling was strong against miscegenation, they would agree with him on this one.

By the way, white attitudes on this question went from 39% in favor in 1972 all the way down to 10% in 2002.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Eductional level is now a poor measure of intelligence: Pjgoober wondered if the correlation between IQ and education has declined over the past few decades, which might explain why the association between educational levels of spouses has evidently not been rising. Indeed, according to the GSS, the correlation has fallen sharply in the past 30 years from .59 to .39. The overall trend held for both whites and blacks. One's educational level is now a poor marker of intelligence.
Do men with higher status have more sex partners? Various theories predict this, but the data is what mattuh, so let's see what the GSS has to say....Strike one for these theories: 21% of men making under 50k had multiple sex partners last year, but only 13% of men making more than that did. I'm sure marriage and age accompany higher incomes, and these things do not help a man find girlfriends, but the theories are not supported nevertheless.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

They call them dreams because they never really happen: Let me share with you a dream that I had last night. It started with me at a party. I struck up a conversation with a woman who turned out to be a feminist. The discussion turned into a debate as I argued that men and women are fundamentally different. A crowd gathered, and she grew angry as the people responded to my common sense points and witty ripostes (this was my dream, remember). We were all laughing while she was scolding, and to mock her we began dancing the conga to the rhythm of her lecture: "Women-are-all-oppressed-see, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH." Then I said, "Darlin', I'll help you understand the concept of the ratio of the crackers to the liver pate-tio," and the crowd burst into laughter. Her face turned red, and I said, "See Honey, men are funnier too." The group's laughter woke me up, and I was so elated I couldn't go back to sleep.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

No trend toward assortative mating for education? Looking around in GSS data today, I discovered that there is no observable trend toward men marrying women of similar educational levels over the past 8o plus years. The correlation was around .6 from the 1920s (based on elderly people's answers given in the 1970s) through the 1970s, and came in at .55 by the 1990s, and there it remains. This puzzles me. I know the older the respondents, the higher the rate of attrition, but do individuals from educationally dissimilar marriages die at younger ages than their counterparts? And I based my 1970s correlations on young people, and the results were no different.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Bell Curve has not convinced the American public

Since 1977, the General Social Survey has asked Americans if the lower economic status of blacks is due to inherited differences. The lower line on the graph above shows that the percent of whites who answer "yes" has gone from few to fewer. Twenty-six percent thought genes were the answer in 1977, and that number fell to only 10% by 1996. Following the publication of the Murray and Herrnstein's book, the genetic view rose slightly, peaking in 2000 at 12%, but by 2004 (the latest year available) it hit an all-time low of 7.7%. The popular assumption that race does not matter continues.

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 ...