Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jewish men are the least kindhearted: In the last post, I was interested in bitchy women. This time let's do kind men. The General Social Survey asked 1,079 males if they were soft-hearted. I calculated the means for each ethnic group with at least 20 respondents, and listed them below:

Mean soft-heartedness score

Puerto Rican 4.35
Scottish 4.10
English/Welsh 4.08
French 4.00
American Indian 3.98
Mexican 3.94

All American men 3.92

Italian 3.89
German 3.86
Irish 3.85
Blacks 3.63
Jewish 3.55

Overall SD 1.08

There weren't enough cases of Puerto Rican women in the last post to include them, but they did have a high kindness score, just like the men here. Black men, like their female counterparts, are not nice, but the most interesting finding to me is Jewish men. Hollywood, for example, tends to portray Jewish guys as sensitive, Woody Allen being a great cartoonish example. But they are clearly the meanest bunch, according to these data. Perhaps Michael Savage is more representative. The distance between them and Puerto Rican men is three-fourths of a standard deviation--a large difference.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Which American ethnic group has the bitchiest women? I can't think of a perfect measure of the concept (input would be helpful) but as a first stab at it, I analyzed the answers given by 1,085 women (General Social Survey) to the question about if they considered themselves to be soft-hearted. I reversed the means to show that high scores indicate not being nice. They are listed below:

Mean meanness score

Mexican 1.06
Italian .80
Blacks .76
Norwegian .75

All American women .70

Irish .69
Jewish .68
English/Welsh .64
French .61
German .58
Scots .59
American Indian .49
Poles .48

Overall SD .97

I've sensed a stereotype that Hispanic women are sweeties, but Mex-Ams are at the top of the mean list. The meanest secretary I know is Mexican, and I dated a Ecuadorian girl once who was pure bitch. Black and Italian women I have known have not seemed particularly nice, and Scandanavians seem a bit chilly. The Slavic women I'm familiar with, on the other hand, are strong but kind (in spite of the one Cate Blanchett plays in the latest Indiana Jones movie!).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Being raised in a religion, abandoning it, and one's happiness: I'm interested in two questions. First, are people with a religion happier than those who have none? Second, are non-religious people happier if they had no religion as children? I've suspected that if you grow up without involvement in a church and without a faith-based worldview, it might be easier to live without them as an adult. The General Social Survey asked 2,490 Americans about their religious affiliation now (18 years old and up) and the religion of their childhood. They also asked respondents how happy they are, with the following answer-choices: very happy (=1), pretty happy (=2), and not too happy (=3). I list below the mean "unhappiness" scores for each category:

Mean unhappiness score

Protestant to none 1.97
None to none 1.91
Catholic to none 1.83
Stayed Catholic 1.81

USA 1.80

Stayed Protestant 1.79
Stayed Jewish 1.68
None to Protestant 1.68
Protestant to Catholic 1.52

Overall mean unhappiness SD .63

In answer to the first question, the saddest folks are people who currently have no affiliation. The gap between the top and bottom groups is seven-tenths of a standard deviation, which is a large difference.

For the second question, the least happy category are those who were raised Protestant, but who currently have no religion, so there is some support for the idea that losing one's religion is associated with more sadness, but, on the other hand, those who were raised without a faith and who stayed that way are only a few points happier. And those who left their Catholic upbringing are happier than those who never had a church, so this does not support the hypothesis that abandoning a religion makes things more difficult.

And notice how sticking with one's family religion is not the happiest group: changing from Protestantism to Catholicism is. I'm not sure why that would be. I looked, and it doesn't appear that these are highly educated, and thus happier people. Some people do find confession to be very therapeutic. It feels good to be able to, in a ritualized way, shed yourself of mistakes.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Are attitudes changing on IQ and race?




There's a great debate going on over at the American Scene over Jim Manzi's National Review cover article that cautions conservatives about embracing genetic research and evolutionary explanations of behavior.

As usual, I like to bring data into debates where possible. Manzi claims that genetic explanations are now winning the debate, and he cites all the gene studies we see reported in mainstream periodicals like Time and Newsweek.

And while it does seem to me that we are seeing more attention paid to the role of biology, I fail to see much progress in any "dangerous" areas like gender and poverty, and no progress with the real dynamite: race.

I'm not sure if Manzi is implying that Bell Curve thinking is becoming more popular, but I strongly suspect it is not. In fact, I doubt we've hit the bottom yet. Let's look at the data.

The General Social Survey asked more than 20,000 people between 1977 and 2006 if they think that blacks are poorer because they have less inborn ability to learn. The top graph above show a steady decline in those who agree with the statement between the years 1977 and 2006. The last two survey years--2004 and 2006--had the lowest percent agreeing in the history of this question--9. The Bell Curve and other related research have had zero detectable impact.

But the elites always take the lead in public opinion, right? The second graph displays acceptance of an inborn inability by educational degree. Only 2.8% of Americans with graduate degrees agree with the genetic idea, while 20.2% of high school dropouts do.

Have the highly educated at least improved in the least decade? The bottom charts shows the pattern for 1996. Only 3.2% of those with advanced degrees agreed, so there has been no change among this group.

Steve Sailer is right that trends in attitudes do not follow the research, and things will probably get much worse before they get better.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cutural decline among women

I often think that the country is in cultural decline, but it could be that Old Man Syndrome is setting in. I mean, haven't old people always bitched about how everything is going to hell?

Well I found some evidence that Grandpa might not be totally senile. The General Social Survey has asked people from 1991 to 2006 if they had ever cheated on their spouse. (I limited the analysis to those who have ever been married).

The graph shown above displays the trend for women. I focus on them since the trend is sharper: from 1991-2006, the percent of men who have cheated has only gone up a couple points. For women, the percent rose from 10.6% in 1991 (N = 616) to 17.5% in 2006 (N = 1,038). That's a 65% increase in a historically short period of time.

Another way of looking at it is in terms of convergence: in 1991, there was a gap 10.6 points between men and women; by 2006, the gap was down to 5.6 points. So, women are rapidly becoming as bad as men.

You know, come to think of it, this is consistent with other things I'm observing. You read reports like the following: the gender gap in prison inmates has narrowed; girls plan attacks on other girls and tape the assault in order to put it on YouTube; women are becoming plumbers in large numbers.

I get so pissed when I see all of the Girls Gone Wild ads on channels that young kids watch.

When I teach 8 am classes, my nearsightedness makes it difficult to differentiate the girls from the boys. The girls show up in sweats or gym shorts, and make zero effort to look good. A girl in a class just the other day said that if a woman hits a man, the man has the right to treat as her if she were a man and beat her silly if he can. They should duke it out, chivalry be damned. I see all the Gladiator women on TV and wonder, "What the hell is going on?"

And I blame feminists, in part, for this mutant society I observe all around me. There is a theory which sums it up very nicely. If society encourages women to move into the social roles traditionally held by men, well big frickin' surprise, they become like men, and not in just the good ways. They become more aggressive, more deviant, and more criminal. I ain't that crazy about the way men are, but when you see it on a woman, it's like ten times worse. I'm troubled when I see two guys fighting, but when I see some muscle-bound chick hovering over the victim, all tattoos and trash talk, I feel like becoming a revolutionary.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gay marriage and infidelity: People against gay marriage often make the argument that homosexuals have a real problem with fidelity, and admitting them to the club would not be good for children or the institution of marriage in general. I don't find this to be a particularly compelling argument since heteros have nothing to brag about on this score, but one contribution I can make is too see if there is any relevant, systematic evidence to help decide if the claim is true.

The General Social Survey asked 4,964 people about their sexual orientation and, "What is your opinion about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner?" Here are the percentages who answered that it is always wrong:

Percent thinking that marital infidelity is always wrong

Straight females 80.6
Straight males 75.2
Lesbians 65.4
Gay males 58.4
Bisexual females 48.7
Bisexual males 46.7

Even straight guys do better than all the non-hetero groups.

Based on this evidence, granting homosexuals access to marriage in contemporary America is a little like a NBA basketball team that has been on a losing streak for many years who decides to add some short pudgy white guys to the roster.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More on family size: In previous posts, I presented evidence that, contrary to the traditional views, kids don't really make people happier. This finding was based on self-reports. Another way of approaching the question is to see what people say the ideal number of children is after they have had the experience of raising kids. The culture encourages parenting, but perhaps the reality is disappointing, which leads people to decide a lower number is ideal.

So, I show below the most popular answer (the modal response) to the question about ideal family size by the number of kids the person actually has (General Social Survey, N = 31,052):

Most popular answer of ideal family size by actual number of children (percent in the modal category given in parentheses):

Has no children
Ideal 2 (54.3%)

Has one child
Ideal 2 (56.5%)

Has two children
Ideal 2 (65.5%)

Has three children
Ideal 3 (26.4%)

Has four children
Ideal 2 (40.7%)

Has five children
Ideal 2 (36.6%)

Has six children
Ideal 2 (34.9%)

Has seven children
Ideal 2 (26.8%)

Has eight or more children
Ideal 4 (26.4%)

First, the experience of having one child does not seem to convince most people that one is enough: they are just as likely as non-parents to give two as the ideal number.

Where we do see a discrepancy between the actual and ideal number of kids is among large families--i.e., those with four or more. Except for the group with eight kids or more, the most popular ideal size is two.

There are probably some parents who didn't personally want so many kids, but had them because of things like not being careful, religious beliefs, or going along with a spouse. Another important explanation might be that parents wanted one boy and one girl, and had more than two trying to accomplish that goal.

Having a large number of kids does not make them choose the same number as the ideal. While it is true that they give 4, 5, 6 or 7 more often as an ideal than those with fewer kids (results not shown) 2 is the most popular choice for them.

So, there is a general tendency to see 2 kids as being most desirable. This might have to do with the desire to have one boy and one girl and suggests that nowadays people have kids for the experience and the meaning associated with it.

Regardless of the actual family size, fewer than 2% of those who had experienced a child decided that having no kids is the way to go (results not shown) so there is little evidence here of regret over having kids.

The only indication of regret I see is the substantial number of parents of large families giving an ideal number that is less than what they have. The second thoughts seem to be over big families, which is not too surprising given that they are a lot of work, they are a big financial drain, and contemporary society won't admire you for it--they look at you like a freak show.

I agree with Michael Corleone that children are your only wealth, but I'm afraid I am in the minority view.

By the way, a reader raised the question of why conservatives want to encourage large families, when this leads to greater urbanism and consequently liberalism. To be precise, large families tend to increase the population (urbanism is a bit different) but my analyses of the World Values Survey found that populous China and India are conservative in important ways. Nevertheless, I would concede some truth to the point, but to make my position clear, when I advocate large families, I am speaking to the kinds of people who read my blog. The U.S. and the world have plenty of people, but what they don't have is enough smart people. America and the developed world, but the developing world even more, would benefit if mean IQs (and other traits) were shifted up.

Liberalism and caring for others

I must be getting soft--I haven't picked on liberals in a long time.

Liberals are the ones who care about people, right? Especially the innocent ones, the children. Except when the other people are your spouse, and the children are your children.

More than 16,000 people were asked their political orientation and if they had ever cheated on their spouses. The percentages are shown in the graphs above.

In the top graph, we see that liberals are allergic to marriage--the more liberal you are, the less likely to have ever jumped to broom. But we can't look here to compare rates of infidelity since it doesn't make sense to give all those never married liberals credit for never having cheated on their spouses.

So, we turn to the lower graph which includes only those who have ever been married. The results: infidelity goes up with one's liberalism. Extremely liberal folks trounce on the hearts of their loved ones at a rate double that of extreme conservatives--27.5% vs. 12.7.

Liberals try to help abstract humanity with your money, while they piss on actual people--i.e., family members.

Oh, and let me anticipate liberal readers: liars on surveys are conservative.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Innumerate pundits: Taki's Mag decided to be nice and let me post again, so I take back all the nasty things I said about them.

Here's a quote from Justin Raimondo's post on race pseudo-science and my comment:

“...but if blacks are so low on the IQ totem pole, then how did the Great Transcender get to where he is, and sound the way he sounds, with half his genetic heritage supposedly dragging him down? The racialists can’t answer that, because it refutes their worldview...”

The innumeracy among our punditry is embarassing and all too common.

By my calculations, there are 1.4 blacks per 1,000 with an IQ of 130 or above, assuming a mean of 85.

For those who are half black/half white, assuming a mean of 92.5, there would be 6 people in 1,000 with IQs 130 or over.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More on gay marriage: I don't have much time to be drawn into debates (in fact, I'm on the road as we speak) but at times the goading of readers makes me want to bite, and unlike some, I think issues connected to the institution of marriage are important.

There are many available arguments against gay marriage, the most obvious one being that the majority doesn't want it.

But allow me to take another tact--I'll steal from Aristotle. We can infer the purpose of something by its design. By examining the construction of a hammer, we can see that it is meant to hit things. (And here I'll use "penis" or other related words as a shorthand for the whole sexual reproduction system). By examining a man's parts, it is clear that their purpose is to impregnate some object, and we can see from studying the design of a woman that she is that object.

Now, clever humans manipulate sex to get pleasure without reproduction, but a penis pointed at a woman is likely to achieve its intended purpose sooner or later. One thing that ensures that the penis will not ever get around to serving its purpose is if the object of arousal is another man. It's, for example, like erectile dysfunction. As long as it persists, the purpose of a man's parts is thwarted. So same-sex sexual attraction can be seen as a dysfunction or a chronic health condition--probably one with no cure at the moment.

You might respond that a disability doesn't deprive one of his rights, like voting for example. But marriage is not a right. People can set up house with whomever they want. Marriage is the state recognizing a particular union. The government is putting its stamp of approval on the arrangement. It is holding up the relationship and saying, we like this and want to encourage it.

Throughout history, society via the law has venerated marriage for a variety of reasons, but it makes no sense to enshrine a relationship based on a disability. That would be like the deaf community that wants the government to put its stamp of approval on deafness, and to declare that it is just as good as hearing, and it should be venerated and encouraged as much as hearing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The church and the bench: Allow me a follow-up to the last post. To be perfectly frank, I don't find most arguments against gay marriage to be particularly compelling. The real reason I oppose it is that it insults the beliefs of most religious people, and I generally side with this very large group of people. Simple as that. This point of view will not impress those who don't look to faith traditions for moral guidance, just like your arguments of "Why not?" will not leave much of an impression with me.

But to make this post a more useful one, let me explain the larger concern I have that is connected to the gay marriage issue, and that is my take on the institution of law.

Unlike many intelligent folks these days, I don't think a society of unguided individuals engaging in free exchange is a desirable state of affairs. I find wisdom in Old School sociology which would call such a state anomie. The idea is that humans are social animals, and they thrive the best when they are embedded in a web of defined relationships, and when there are authoritative norms to guide their behavior and when there is a trustworthy worldview to give their lives order, meaning, and direction.

Now, environments always change, so societies have no choice but to always be in the process of adaptation. To optimize well-being, however, the change should be slow and gradual. Rapid social change undermines the authority of norms and worldviews, and folks are left with the guides of individual appetite, expedience, and extremism. The chaos of the 60s is a milder example of what I'm talking about here.

American culture today is biased in favor of change. We love the newest and the latest, and there is a tendency to equate new with good. And there are major instutitions which are 100% in sync with our cultural bias. The market and Madison Avenue love to push the new--if you don't have this or that, what is wrong with you?

The university is the same way. History is mostly a story of atrocities, the teachers tell us. Only the future is worth fighting for. The elite media and Hollywood repeat the same story. All a presidential candidate has to do is utter the word "change" and half the country falls in love.

And related to this is science and technology: the old guys gave us some stuff, but the newer stuff is much better. The behavioral sciences and the myriad industries aimed at solving social problems are guilty of the same thing. Traditional ways of helping people with their difficulties are just superstitutions, and not even the research from a decade ago is any good. The study that came out today is the one with all the answers.

So, there are a lot of power centers in love with change, and there are a lot of folks anxiously waiting for the Revolution. But if there is any truth to my above description of an optimally functioning society, where are institutional brakes on all this desire for innovation?

Well, brakes are hard to find in this country, but perhaps the first thing to pop into your brain is the church. And yes, that can be a very important source of caution and restraint. Since it is one of the few sources of anti-newism, it really ticks me off when churches base their policies on the latest New York Times editorial.

Ah, finally we come to it. Traditionally, another brake on the American locomotive has been the courts. With a deep respect for precedent, judges were always looking back for the answers. It was a backward-looking institution. Law was revered because it was ancient--going back a thousand years to medieval England. Even back to Moses if you wanted to push it. In it was encoded the wisdom of our fathers.

Now, the change fetishists sit on the bench, and instead of being pulled kicking and screaming by public sentiment to get with the times, now it imposes the latest fad like a tyrant on a resentful populace.

All you innovators--you can have the rest of them, but take pity on us poor conservatives and leave the church and the bench to us.
Moral minimalism is poison: Today, we see that the California State Supreme Court doesn't give a fig about what the people of California want.

In striking down the ban on gay marriage, the court said, "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

Complicit in this type of thinking are all the Republican elites who have been telling us for years that what people do sexually is their own business. Advancing the libertarian view, any kind of sex is hunky dory as long as it is consensual. Moral minimalism of this sort is bound to lead to things like gay marriage. Its logic should also bring about to the legalization of the family choas we see in the polygamist sect in Texas.

This belief, as common on the right as the left, that anything goes as long as its consensual is poison.
Question: It is clear that blacks are becoming very invested in an Obama victory this fall. If we saw something like a 2000 rewind with the Republican being given the White House, am I crazy to think there might be some Korean stores burned or looted? Might some whites vote for Barack to make sure such a thing doesn't happen? If he is elected, will this be the first time in my life that people won't feel free to call the President an idiot, a crook, or a scumbag, at least in public? If he were impeached, do the Korean storeowners need to get the guns loaded?

As Pat Buchanan writes in his column, it's seems like intimidation is being used to keep people saying only those things that will not stop Barack from winning. Example: Bill Clinton has gone from being the first black President to a Republican-like racist for implying that when Obama won South Carolina it showed that he can win where there a lot of black voters, but not necessarily with white voters.

Black leaders and columnists are having hissy fits over these kinds of statements from Hillary and her husband, which is completely irrational because, how many of them think that race is not a problem for Obama?

What is so dreadful about Bill and Hillary suggesting that some swing voters might not be ready for a black president? In my view, they are incorrect, but any Democrat worried about the electability of his candidate should be asking himself this question. It's a serious question. Look at West Virginia.

If a liberal hero of this magnitude is going to have his reputation ruined by that kind of comment, we can look forward for the first time in American history to a president who gets only the softest kind of criticism from the people who matter. And we will be treated by our neighbor to such shocking comments as, "I don't like the Pres. As far as I'm concerned, he's an... an elitist!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Differences between black and white women: One of the central interests of this blog is to examine racial differences. The Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women asked 1,537 female college students about how well a list of statements described themselves. Answers ranged from "not at all like me" (=1) to "very much like me" (=5). I present below the mean scores for blacks and whites, along with the difference between the two groups as a proportion of the measure's standard deviation.

Mean scores and mean differences as a proportion of the standard deviation

Whites 2.34
Blacks 2.03
.26 SD difference

Whites 2.80
Blacks 2.38
.33 SD difference

Whites 1.85
Blacks 1.52
.29 SD difference

Whites 2.20
Blacks 1.91
.24 SD difference

Whites 2.52
Blacks 2.24
.23 SD difference

Feels like crying
Whites 3.05
Blacks 2.81
.18 SD difference

Down in the dumps
Whites 2.07
Blacks 1.85
.18 SD difference

Feels peaceful
Whites 3.04
Blacks 3.26
.19 SD difference

Wakes up rested
Whites 2.43
Blacks 2.59
.13 SD difference

Take charge kind of person
Whites 2.84
Blacks 2.68
.15 SD difference

Very emotional
Whites 3.48
Blacks 3.13
.28 SD difference

Gives in easily
Whites 4.11
Blacks 4.53
.44 SD difference

Brags a lot
Whites 1.46
Blacks 1.28
.25 SD difference

Busy and active
Whites 3.76
Blacks 3.38
.36 SD difference

Likes to do for other people
Whites 4.21
Blacks 3.78
.47 SD difference

Doesn't have a lot of nerve
Whites 2.02
Blacks 1.68
.30 SD difference

Comfortable in the background
Whites 1.75
Blacks 1.39
.39 SD difference

Whites 1.61
Blacks 1.45
.18 SD difference

Needs the approval of others
Whites 2.73
Blacks 3.36
.31 SD difference

Feelings are not easily hurt
Whites 1.96
Blacks 2.22
.25 SD difference

Nags other people
Whites 2.06
Blacks 1.82
.24 SD difference

Whites 3.02
Blacks 3.23
.16 SD difference

Gives up easily
Whites 4.24
Blacks 4.41
.24 SD difference

Doesn't trust others
Whites 2.25
Blacks 2.54
.26 SD difference

Must think of oneself first
Whites 1.95
Blacks 2.48
.50 SD difference

Out for revenge
Whites 1.42
Blacks 1.69
.35 SD difference

Tries to understand others' feelings
Whites 4.39
Blacks 4.22
.21 SD difference

Gives in to please people
Whites 2.01
Blacks 1.51
.48 SD difference

Plays it safe
Whites 3.35
Blacks 2.91
.40 SD difference

Trustful so easily fooled
Whites 2.54
Blacks 1.83
.57 SD difference

Doesn't know what to do in a tough spot
Whites 3.49
Blacks 3.71
.21 SD difference

This is a very long list, so let's summarize. First, none of the differences here are as large as the black-white IQ gap. (Some of this might be due to more measurement error in these single items). The take-home message is not that these differences are insignificant; it is that the IQ gap is huge.

Compared to black women, white women are more high-strung, moody, depressed, nagging, unassertive, thin-skinned, greedy, busy, persistent, decisive, empathetic, altruistic, trusting, easily duped, risk-averse, and less vindictive and in need of approval.

If we limit the differences to the large ones, white women are more altruistic and trusting and less assertive.

While far from perfect, one way to boil this down is to say that white women are less masculine.

Men are next.
Ideal family size among young Americans: Let's get a look at the future by examining ideal family size as reported by young people. According to my analysis of General Social Survey data, the mean ideal number of kids for white Americans ages 18-25 is 2.55 for girls 2.47 for guys. These means are a little higher than for older people.

Here is the breakdown for young whites (N = 416):

Ideal family size--percentages

0 1.5
1 3.6
2 53.3
3 29.4
4 5.1
5 0.5
6 0.0
7+ 0.5
As many as one wants 6.1

0 0.5
1 2.3
2 47.9
3 31.5
4 8.2
5 0.0
6 0.5
7+ 0.0
As many as one wants 9.1

Two children is clearly the modal category for both sexes.

And for young Hispanics (N = 94)?

Ideal family size--percentages

0 1.1
1 0.0
2 33.0
3 35.1
4 22.3
5 2.1
6 2.1
7+ 1.1
As many as one wants 3.2

Unlike whites, a large number of Hispanics feel that 4 kids is ideal, and small percentages even give a higher number. The Hispanic mean is 3.01--one-half child more than for young whites.

Correction: It's a good thing I don't get paid to do this. After my last post, I was skeptical about the numbers and discovered that a score of 8 does not mean "8+ children" in the ideal number of children question--it means "whatever the parents want is ideal." So my estimates were inaccurate. Here are the corrected numbers (sample sizes are at least 1,100 for each year):

Mean number of children desired--whites

Men 2.48
Women 2.51

Men 2.55
Women 2.56

Men 2.35
Women 2.43

Men 2.37
Women 2.47
Non-Hispanic Men 2.36
Non-Hispanic Women 2.47

This makes more sense. Most whites will give 2 or 3 as the ideal family size, and this has not changed much in more than 30 years. In an earlier post, a reader implied that men want more kids than women, but these numbers do not support that; in fact, it looks like ideal family size might now be a bit lower for men.

Feminists would like us to think that large families are a patriarchal plot against women, but as I've shown before, men like many feminist ideas. What man doesn't want consequence-free sex? What man doesn't want women to be sexually liberated (unless the woman is his daughter)? What man doesn't want a woman to take care of the home and kids and bring home a big paycheck? What man does not want a woman raising her kids alone legitimated?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More on the fertility bust

In two prior posts, reasons for long-term fertility declines among middle-class Americans were disussed.

The graph above (Fertility and abortion rates in the United States, 1960–2002. Hamilton, Brady E.; Ventura, Stephanie J. International Journal of Andrology, Feb 2006, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p34-45) shows overall fertility trends since 1930.

First, the large 1940-1958 increase corresponds with the prosperity of the period. After years of hardship, Americans didn't simply turn into mega-consumers like crazy when times turned for the better: following where the country was at culturally, they devoted a lot of their abundance on large families. Still, the pattern points to an economic as well as a cultural explanation.

But what about the subsequent fertility collapse of the 1960s? That was also a prosperous period, but the birth rate dropped by half. An obvious candidate is the pill: it gave couples the control over pregnancies, but why choose fewer when the money is so good?

In my view, an important part of the story was growing consumerism. The Boob Tube entered the scene, and Americans developed a real taste for stuff. Couples didn't just want a house, they wanted a huge one in the suburbs. They didn't just want a car; they wanted a Cadillac.

People bought like crazy, but soon realized that Dad's paycheck--large though it was--was not big enough. The service economy was growing, and it seduced more and more married women with better and better wages. Education is necessary for some jobs, so young girls turned increasingly to school and then the workplace, and something had to give. So family size dropped from 3 or 4 to 1 or 2. The graph shows us a bottoming out in the early 70s, and we've basically been there since.

All this happened before the economic turning point of 1973--the oil shock. So, at most, the subsequent loss of middle-income jobs, etc., can only help explain why fertility stayed down, not what caused the collapse in the first place.

Now, you might counter that my consumerism argument is an economic one and so supports economic determinism. While the changing of American values, standards, and tastes is certainly related to the marketplace, it is nevertheless cultural. Those three items I just mentioned--values, standards, and tastes--are cultural and have been manipulated by cultural elites. Madison Avenue being at the top of the list.

A standard comment among middle-class folks is that you just can't afford kids now. But people are "kidding" themselves. What they are really saying is that you have to live a little more like Grandpa did to have a large family, and consumption is simply more important.

Madison Avenue saw you comin'.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Abortions are down, fertility is up under Bush

Number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, by year

Two readers (Jim Bowery and SFG) claim that fertility has decreased and abortion increased under the economic hardships of the Bush Administration.

I haven't the smallest desire to defend W. and the rest of the bums, but this is a case of a very plausible theory substituting for hard data. The two charts above ( show that trends have been good, not bad. (It looks like medication abortions are included in the abortion numbers).

These few data points and my last post on abortion provide evidence that economics doesn't determine everything as advocates of Homo economicus would have us believe, nor are values impotent.

(As a side note, increased availability of medication abortions has not led to an increase in abortion, so it might prove to be a "good" thing since it results in earlier abortions. Thirty percent are now done in the first six weeks.)
Mexican Americans are the least liberal Hispanics: I shown in previous posts that immigrants tilt the country left. In particular, I have focused on Mexicans since they are the largest group. Other Hispanics are often lumped in with Mexicans, but they might very well have different politics. Cuban Americans are known for their Republican voting, for example.

The General Social Survey asked 9,613 people their if they had Hispanic origins, and their political views (ranging from "extremely liberal" (1) to "extremely conservative" (7)). Here are the means subtracted from 7 so that higher scores show greater liberalism:

Mean liberalism score

Mexicans 2.89
Puerto Ricans 3.19
Cubans 3.18
Dominicans 3.40
Central Americans 3.22
South Americans 3.26

All other Hispanics are worse than Mexicans. Even Cubans are farther to the left. It might be the case that the only reason why they vote Republican is over the issue of Cuba. They fit in with general pattern of liberalism among immigrants. Their numbers are also consistent with the high liberalism scores of other Caribbean people (i.e., Puerto Ricans, Dominicans).

Central and South Americans are also more liberal than Mexicans. According to GSS data, there simply are no conservative Hispanic groups. (The closest thing perhaps is Filipinos).

Hispanics are another example of how Catholicism in America does not move people right. Priests pray for the end of abortion, but parishioners want social programs.

(This is off-topic, but it occurred to me while attending mass yesterday that I felt like I was trapped in a 1976 Up With People concert.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Minority and female literature: General Social Survey participants (N = 2,628) were asked how they felt about this statement: "It is a shame when traditional American literature is ignored while other works are promoted because they are by women or by members of minority groups." Here are the percentages who agreed (strongly or somewhat):

Percent who agree

White males 63.6
White females 64.6
Black males 52.3
Black females 48.4

The only group short of a majority is black females, so if traditional literature is so popular, why don't we study it?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Why feminism kills babies (beyond having gotten abortion legalized): I don't have to tell you that the 48.6 million U.S. abortions since 1973 were made possible by Roe v. Wade, which was a Supreme Court decision aimed at advancing the rights of women--that much is obvious. It is also clear that feminists have fought for policies which maximize access to an abortion. But less well known is that feminism raises the risk that a women will have an unwanted pregnancy and, if pregnant, will decide that an abortion is the right choice to make.

I was curious about the predictors of abortion and ran across a research article in Family Planning Perspectives (Early predictors of nonmarital first pregnancy and abortion. By: Udry, J. Richard, Kovenock, Judith, Morris, Naomi M., Family Planning Perspectives, May/Jun96, Vol. 28, Issue 3). The sample was of 351 young white women from the San Francisco area. They focused on non-marital births and abortions by unmarried women (82% of all abortions are to single women).

So what predicted having an illegitimate child, and then an abortion? For having a non-marital birth, it was: 1) wanting freedom and not wanting to be tied down; 2) having boyish characteristics; 3) feeling that obeying laws is not important; and 4) feeling comfortable as a child arguing with her father. For having an abortion, it was: 1) being a good student; 2) having a well educated mother; 3) small family size; and 4) feeling that obeying laws is not important.

The picture here is of a girl who comes from a libertine, feminist home. Part of what is going on here is the idea that, hey this girl is going somewhere, and we can't let a little thing like a baby get in the way of Angel conquering the world.

Feminists have pushed abortion rights, and have pushed girls to get abortions, and so 50 million people never got a chance to live.

(By the way, Levitt, it is unlikely that these babies would have turned out to be losers).
Arab American attitudes toward surveillance: The Detroit Arab American Study (2003) asked 1,016 people if, after 9/11, they were in favor of: 1) increased government monitoring of U.S. citizens; and 2) detaining suspicious Arabs and/or Muslims even if there is not sufficient evidence to prosecute them in court.

Only 10.9% supported the latter, but a majority (52.8%) favored the increased surveillance of U.S. citizens in general. I'm not surprised to see Arab Americans say, sure watch people more carefully--just don't pick on us.

By the way, 21.9% of Christian Arabs and 33.3% of atheist Arabs were in favor of targeting Arabs and/or Muslims, compared to only 5.5% of Muslims.

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 ...