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.


  1. I am curious. You don't have Poles in that group. I am not Polish, but I live in a heavily Polish American area and I find them a pretty decent and well ordered group. Also, they are very Papist. I think that may change your religion stereotype a bit.

  2. tvoh: Yes, I wish I could have included at least one group from Eastern Europe (in fact I wish the sample sizes were large enough to look at all groups) but I chose only groups that had been included in all my earlier analyses. My sense is that, yes, Poles are a well ordered group, though not at the top of the list. I like Catholicism by the way and attend mass maybe once a month.

  3. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Also, Germans are pretty split between Catholics and Protestants and the French went primarily to Canada. Quebec and the rest of Canada aren't exactly rowdy.

    I do think, however, you're mostly correct. The differences in bad behavior seem attributable to ethnicity.

  4. anon: My impression was that German Americans were mostly Protestant. According to the GSS, 67.4% are; 24.1% are Catholic; 1.0% are Jewish; 8.5% are nothing; and the rest are miscellaneous.

  5. How about Scandinavians, Koreans, or Asian Indians?

  6. Anonymous8:50 AM


    It almost seems like you set it up for the results to come out that way. Most of the criteria you've chosen is subjective; an example of which is male promiscuity past the age of 30. Is this really bad behavior? Men would be better off waiting longer to get married and marrying a younger woman, enabling them to be promiscious for a longer period of time, thus letting them get it out of their system so as to create stabler marriages later on.

    Why just use one variable: criminal convictions for theft and violent crime, but examine a wider array of groups, such as those recommended by Mr. Sailer.

    Or have such studies already been? All I've seen is the constant replay of white-black differences...

  7. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Another criteria to consider for bad behavior:

    One believes that getting promiscuity out of your system leads to healthier marriages.

    If the future wife is okay with that... it's because she was doing it, too! Nice, lovely little diseases floating around out there....


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