Sunday, December 27, 2009

Does religiosity protect against suicide?

The high rate of suicide this time of year got me wondering if religious involvement lowers one's risk, so I looked for a study (Taliaferro, L., Rienzo, B., Pigg, R., Miller, M., & Dodd, V. (2009). Spiritual Well-Being and Suicidal Ideation Among College Students. Journal of American College Health, 58(1), 83-90.).

The above table lists the correlations from a study of 522 college students. I don't know why their measure of religiosity is not included here, but you can see that all three types of well-being--spiritual, religious, and existential--are negatively associated with feeling depressed, hopeless, and suicidal. ("Spiritual well-being" is simply the summed scores of religious and existential well-being.) Religious well-being measures satisfaction with one's relationship with God, while existential well-being concerns satisfaction with life and finding meaning and purpose in it.

This table shows that people who attend church frequently have lower levels of hopelessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide, as well as greater social support.

This table displays the multivariate results. It turns that that when you control for other relevant factors, religious involvement (religiosity) does not lower your risk of having suicidal thoughts. Not surprisingly, feelings of hopelessness and depression are associated with more thoughts of suicide, but even after taking their influence into account, finding meaning and purpose in life (existential well-being) appears to reduce thinking about suicide. Religious well-being, by contrast, exerts no independent influence.

So what seems to be crucial for a person is to find a way to avoid feeling that his life is pointless. Religious people often succeed at this--the correlation between religious well-being and existential well-being is a fairly strong .46--but irreligious people can find it as well.  Nietzsche got this one right: "We may handle any how, if we only have a why."

(Let me add that all these questions about various dimensions of satisfaction are probably tapping, in part, personality traits. It goes without saying that Standard Social Science Models (SSSM) like this one are misspecified).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blacks score highest on "lie scale"

A reader raised the question about racial differences in honest self-reporting. I ran across this study of 980 children with a mean age of eight. It found that black children score the highest on the "lie scale" (with questions like, "I never get angry"--obviously dishonest if you answer yes), while Hispanic children scored the highest on concerns about living up to others' expectations (the "social concerns scale"). Whites scored lowest on the lie scale. The black-white gap is 37 percent of one standard deviation--a moderate difference.

Altruism among whites

I was curious to see if there were differences in altruism among large white ethnic groups (GSS data--Americans). Results are shown in the table. I don't see any general differences. Perhaps you do.  

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More on race and altruism

In The 10,000 Year Explosion, Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending claim that agrarian living selected for stinginess. A farmer who gave away all his seed was left with nothing to plant in the spring.

This might explain results from a GSS analysis described in the last post. I've reproduced the findings in the table above and added estimates for Amerindians and Americans of Chinese and Japanese descent (combined into an "Asian" category).

With their deep agricultural histories, you would expect whites and Asians to hold on to their money more tightly. It looks like they do. While they don't seem to differ on non-monetary forms of charity like participating in walkathons, they are less likely to give or loan individuals money. Compare whites and Asians to American Indians, for example. Twice as many Indians as whites have helped a needy neighbor.

Keep two things in mind, however. Pure opportunity might explain these numbers. NAMs associate with more needy people than whites or Asians. (On the other hand, whites and Asians have more money to give). Also--sample sizes are small for everyone except whites.

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.

Jews and altruism

In my earlier posts on ethnocentrism among Jewish Americans, commenters provided estimates from GSS data suggesting that Jews are altruistic. In using the term ethnocentric, I wasn't implying that Jews are uncaring toward others; only that they have affection for their own. Their liberalism despite great wealth leaves me with the impression that they care about non-Jews. 

I calculated means and percentages for all the GSS questions I could find that tap general altruism. Generic questions about charitable contributions are not good since, for all we know, people are donating money to within-ethnicity causes. Even the questions listed above have problems. Jews are concentrated in urban areas, so questions regarding giving up a seat on a bus or giving money to a homeless person will favor them. (In the question on giving up a seat, I limited it to people living in cities with at least a million people).

On the other hand, non-Jews are advantaged in questions about giving money to needy friends or neighbors. As a wealthier group, Jews are less likely to have friends or neighbors in need. The same could probably be said of some friend, acquaintance, or family member in need of a loan (LENTTO). 

Participating in walkathons or donating blood are better questions: percentages seem to be the same for walkathons, while non-Jews might be more likely to donate blood.

Jews, along with those having no religion, certainly shine in terms of giving money to racial organizations. I imagine this is mostly black orgs like the UNCF. I'd chalk this up to greater liberalism.

Judge the numbers as you will: I see little evidence here that Jews differ from others on general altruism.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Multiculturalism, ethnocentrism, and racialism

As a follow-up to the last post, I regressed agreeing that one's ethnicity is important (ETHIMP--GSS data) on a list of variables that seemed predictive when looking at the bivariate associations. 

The table displays the results. I included p-values since so many of them are just shy of the .05 cutoff. You can read p-values as the chance that the relationship between the predictor and ETHIMP is actually zero.

Believing there should be a law against marriage between blacks and whites is the only independent variable significantly related to thinking one's ethnicity is important. It also has the largest beta. Older people, those living in the South, political conservatives and people who are religious fundamentalists are more ethnocentric (but not significantly so). Gender and church attendance, on the other hand, have high p-values so there is a good chance they are unrelated to the dependent variable.

The results here are stronger here than in the last post probably because the measure of ethnocentricism is more normally distributed. Although the model explains little variance in ethnocentrism (R-squared is only .056) it does suggest that if Americans are encouraged to adopt multiculturalism for themselves, it will take the form of what you would imagine emerging from the South: one that is racialist and conservative.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Predictors of ethnocentrism among whites

We saw in an earlier post that ethnocentrism increases among Jews as one moves in an orthodox direction.  Is that true of other whites as well?

For a preliminary analysis, I looked at potential predictors of tribalism among whites (with closeness to one's ethnic group as the measure (ETHCLOSE)): low IQ, low education, low job prestige, political conservatism, and church attendance. None of those is more than trivially related to ethnocentrism--correlations were all well under .1.

The measures in the table above were the only ones I could find that seemed predictive. I entered all of them into an OLS regression model and displayed the results above. Being female and living in the south are the only factors significantly related to feeling close to one's ethnicity. The effect of being a fundamentalist falls just short of statistical significance.  Racialism, measured as favoring a law against marriage between blacks and whites, is unrelated to ethnocentrism. Looking at the betas, you can see that gender, southernness, and fundamentalism all have a similar impact (if you ignore the lack of significance for fundamentalism).

I checked to see if females were responding more than males to the "feeling" aspect of the question. When we substitute thinking your ethnicity is important to a sense of who you are (ETHIMP), the gender effect disappears. I can see there are other differences as well, but that will have to wait until next time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skeptics more likely to cheat

In What's So Great about Christianity, Dinesh D'Souza claims that one of the psychological reasons why people adopt atheism is because they are very sexual and most traditional religions put heavy restraints on sexual behavior. Who wants to believe in all those rules when you have the libido of a bonobo?

I looked at infidelity to see if there was a relationship between skepticism and deviant sexual behavior. The table shows that there clearly is. As skepticism grows, so does the risk of cheating. Compared to believers, all categories except "believes sometimes"  have significantly higher rates. Atheists are almost twice as likely to stray. (This finding is also consistent with the greater sexual deviance and skepticism seen among men).

Of course, this link does not identify what is causing what.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ethnocentrism might rise with age

Steve Sailer asks: "Is there anyway to look at cohorts over time to see if ethnocentrism increases with age? I suspect ethnocentrism sets in more when you start thinking about grandchildren, but that's just a guess."

The GSS question on one's closeness to his ethnic group (ETHCLOSE) was asked in 1996 and 2004. I calculated the mean score for all whites in their 50s in 1996 and got 2.84. Next, I computed the mean for people ages 58-67 in 2004 (since the earlier group had aged 8 years). Their mean is 3.12, almost one-third of a standard deviation higher. The difference is not quite significant at the two-tailed 95% confidence level, but the small samples (143 and 137) do not help.

I take this as evidence that Steve is right: tribalism rises as you reach the age when grandchildren are in your thoughts.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another measure showing high Jewish ethnocentrism

Comments by The Undiscovered Jew (TUJ) in the last post motivated me to look at two items. He stressed that no one seems to back up claims of Jewish ethnocentrism with peer-reviewed research. Looking at the Academic Search Complete database that has 11,200 journals, I did a search on "Jews" and "ethnocentrism" and failed to find even a single relevant article. The closest I could find was a 1976 article studying the integration attitudes of liberal Jews and WASPs working for some civil rights organization in Los Angeles. Worthless. I did find an article based on GSS data examining the ethnocentrism of gentiles.  There are no relevant studies because people are terrified of this kind of topic. The only articles conducted are on anti-Semitism.

TUJ's other point is that I'm basing my conclusion on only one analysis. I've provided evidence before that Jews rank high on ethnocentrism among American ethnic groups here, here, and here.

Let's use the ETHCLOSE variable that TUJ uses in the comments. Respondents are asked how close they feel to their ethnic or racial group, with answers ranging from "very close" (1) to "not close at all" (4). I reverse-coded the values so that a high number indicates high ethnocentrism. The means are shown above for all groups with at least 30 respondents. (The exception to this was to include different types of Jews as TUJ did in his analysis).

Orthodox and Conservative Jews are the most ethnocentric of all groups. The only groups more ethnocentric than all Jews combined are blacks and Norwegians. Even Mex-Ams scored lower.  I should say, however, that all Jews together were not quite significantly higher than Americans of English/Welsh descent at the two-tailed 95 percent confidence level. The Jewish/English gap is one-third of a standard deviation.

On the other hand, TUJ has a point that tribalism varies greatly across types of Jews. While Orthodox Jews are one full standard deviation more ethocentric than Americans of English/Welsh descent, Jews with no religious affiliation actually score a bit lower than the reference group. (Keep in mind that the N's are tiny).

Evidence that Jewish Americans are consistent

I found evidence that Jewish Americans as a group are not hypocritical over issues of ethnocentrism. The table above reproduces the ethnocentrism scores I calculated in the earlier post. Groups with above-average scores I labeled "ethnocentrics". Groups with scores below the mean are called "individualists."

Next, I found this question:  "Some people say that it is better for America if different racial and ethnic groups maintain their distinct cultures. Others say that it is better if groups change so that they blend into the larger society as in the idea of a melting pot. Here is a card with a scale from 1 to 7. Think of a score of 1 as meaning that racial and ethnic groups should maintain their distinct cultures, and a score fo 7 as meaning that groups should change so that they blend into the larger society. What score between 1 and 7 comes closest to the way you feel?"

The means are shown in the right column. Those above the mean are categorized as "multiculturalists," while those below are labeled "assimilationists."  All the groups, including Jews, are consistent. What Jews tend to favor is a society where ethnic traditions are maintained. They are ethnocentric multiculturalists.

So where does that leave so many Americans whose families have been here for many generations, with ancestors from several different countries, who belong to no particular ethnic group? You can see that most white Americans are individualist assimilationists, but that attitude seems so 1950s.

If the country follows the route favored by many Jews and other minority groups, the natural path for these other folks is to organize as white Americans NOA--not otherwise allied. These people have no culture, history or heritage other than a white American one. The country does seem to be headed in a multicultual direction, especially when you consider massive Hispanic immigration mixed with a multiculturalist elite, but I don't think an America with tens of millions of tribalist white people is quite what multiculturalists have in mind.

UPDATE: Oops--I missed that Americans of Polish and French descent are individualist multiculturalists.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Younger Jews might be less ethnocentric

Here's some evidence for the side arguing that Jewish ethnocentrism is not significant.

I took the Jewish sample that was asked the question about the importance of one's ethnicity, and split it into two equal groups. The first group is people ages 18 to 54; the age range for the second is 55 and older. The mean "my ethnicity is not important" score for the younger group is 2.17 (n = 24); for the older group it's 1.83 (n = 24). That's three-tenths of a standard deviation drop in ethnocentrism among the younger group. The sample is small unfortunately, but combined with the high rates of intermarriage mentioned in the comments of the last post, ethnocentrism might be on the decline.

One other thing: even if Jewish American ethnocentrism were approaching Italian American levels among young people, Italians don't seem hypocritical to me. To put it mildly, they're not known for their crusading anti-racism.

UPDATE: Now that I think about it, the greater ethnocentrism among older Jews (that reaches levels similar to Mex-ams) might be explained as an age effect rather than a generational difference. People seem to discover their roots as they age.

More on Jewish ethnocentrism

In the comments in the last post, some readers contended that Jews are not ethnocentric. Using the same question I used in the comments section--how important is your ethnicity for your sense of who you are--I calculated the mean score for all American ethnic groups with at least 30 people. Answers ranged from "very important" (1) to "not at all important" (4), so high scores indicate low ethnocentrism.

The table shows that of the 13 groups big enough to measure, Jewish Americans are the third most tribalist group, behind only blacks and Mexicans Americans. The difference between Jews and those of English descent (the comparison group) is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level. The standard deviation is 1.14, so the English/Jewish gap is slightly over 1/2 of a standard deviation.

Irish and Italian Americans, thought by some in the previous post to be as ethnocentric as Jewish Americans, do not differ significantly from Americans of English descent. The gap between Jews and the Irish is 39% of one standard deviation; the Jewish/Italian gap is 35% of one SD.

Jews are significantly less ethnocentric than blacks, but their mean does not differ significantly from that of Mexican-Americans (p < .05, two-tail test).  (I wouldn't be surprised if this comparison would become significant if N were increased).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jews and tribalism

The hypocrisy is getting old.

My friend suggested I watch the film Everything is Illuminated. I knew nothing about the movie, but trusted his taste. Into it a couple of minutes, I could see that it was a quirky movie about honoring your family. That's a theme I'm interested in, and I was really enjoying the story of a young Jewish man traveling to Ukraine to find relatives left behind during World World II.

That was until the story turned tribalistic. It was revealed that his tour guide--an elderly, anti-Semitic Ukrainian man--had actually grown up Jewish but turned his back on his people after narrowly escaping death at the hands of Nazis in the same area where the young man's relatives were from. Returning to the place where he had survived the shooting squad brought back all the events he had tried to forget. Guilt over abandoning his Jewishness drove the old man to kill himself. His grandson, who came along on the tour as translator, learned of his Jewish ancestry, embraced it, and had his grandfather buried in a Jewish grave.

There wasn't the slightest indication that the young man or his relatives or the old man had any religious sentiment. The message was one of tribalism, not religious belief.

Applying the film's message to yourself, a gentile will learn that it is imperative that you be loyal to your people; to sever ties from your people is an act worse than death. (A hero in the story was shot by Nazis for refusing to spit on the Torah).

In reality, any gentile who does take the message of this movie to heart and loves his people will be called a racist, a bigot, and a hater. For everyone in the world except Jews, it seems, loving your people is a crime. For Jews, it's a crime not to.

Some will contend that Jews are small and persecuted, so they have earned the double standard. I say that is completely unacceptable. To be considered legitimate, principles must apply the same to everyone. As I have argued before, you are racist if you argue for one set of rules for your group, and another set for everyone else.

And it can't be argued that, while tribalism is immoral, religious loyalty is still considered legitimate. The characters in this film were not the least bit religious; this was a blood thing, as it is for many Jews. How ironic it is that the champions of anti-tribalism are some of the most tribal people in the world. It has got to stop.  

Monday, December 07, 2009

Aversion to marriage

Who is more averse to the institution of marriage--men or women?

The General Social Survey asked 164 white never-married respondents ages 18-49 would they want to get married if the right person came along. Twenty-eight percent of men said no, while only 13 percent of  women said the same. The difference is statistically significant.

Young adults might not have anything against marriage but feel they are too young to marry. If we limit the sample to only those ages 30 to 49, 22 percent of men are not interested in marriage, compared to only 7 percent of women.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Attitudes toward illegitimacy

Whites, N = 3,281

This graph (GSS data) shows trends in the answer to the question, "Do you agree or disagree: People who want children ought to get married." You can see the culture war is growing. Compared to the past two decades, there are more whites who strongly agree with the statement, but there are also more respondents who have no opinion or who strongly disagree.  There are now fewer white Americans who simply agree.

Blacks, N = 477

With blacks, there are also fewer now who simply agree that people who want to be parents should marry, but the slack has been picked up by the strongly agree category. There is perhaps a little bit of a moral renewal going on here.  
How great it would be if our moralistic energy were directed toward bad family decisions instead of things like using an outdated name for black people. (I witnessed an elderly professor get busted recently for accidently using the word "colored").  Black folks themselves would benefit much more from being shamed for having kids out of wedlock than being timidly referred to as "African Americans." 
People need social punishment for socially destructive behavior. I know that if I divorced my wife today and walked away from four children, not a person I know would express a single word of disgust because nowadays everyone is so non-judgmental and so compassionate. American society has gotten to the point where it does nothing moralistic to shape our behavior except to throw us in jail when we have really crossed the line.  (Of course, it shames us mercilessly over contemporary concerns like gay marriage).      

N = 112

Here we see that Mexican Americans are significantly more permissive toward illegitimate births than either blacks or whites. Just exactly how are these people social conservatives?

To reinforce my point: a recent Pew poll revealed that more Mex-Ams favor gay marriage than whites: 45 versus 39 percent.

Friday, December 04, 2009

American decline continues right on schedule

The above graphs shows the trend in the percent of all births to white unamarried mothers (CDC data). The percent has shot up in this decade from the low 20s to over 25 percent.

For blacks, the level has been flat at around 70 percent since the early 1990s.

For Hispanic mothers, the share of illegitimate births has shot up from the low forties to 50 percent in just the past few years.

Asian Americans have hung steady at 15-17 percent since 1993. They are the only group with numbers that are low and not getting worse (unless the little 3-year increase starting in 2004 portends something).

It looks like the acceptability of bastardom, embraced by blacks long ago, has grown strikingly among whites and Hispanics in this decade. American decline continues right on schedule.

Blacks, church attendance, and marriage

N = 7,217

While analyzing GSS data for the last post on church attendance and fidelity among married black men, I noticed the connection between religiosity and marriage. Of course, marriage has been in deep decline among black Americans since the glorious 1960s. Fewer than 70% of black women ever get married, and they are more likely than whites to divorce and to never remarry.

The chart shows that frequent church attendance is often accompanied by marriage among blacks. (Both males and females are included: the pattern is very similar for both groups). Forty-six percent of married people attend religious services often (nearly every week or more frequently) compared to 27 percent of never-marrieds. (The difference is statistically significant at the 95% confidence level).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Black men, church, and cheating

All the noise about Tiger Woods reminded me of a question I wanted to look into: Are married, churchgoing black men less likely to cheat? 

The table (GSS data) shows the percent of married black guys who have ever cheated by church attendance. The variable ATTEND produced cells with very small sample sizes, so I collapsed them into three categories: rarely (never attends to once a year); occasionally (several times a year to 2-3 times a month); and often (nearly every week to more than weekly). This strategy puts roughly one-third of men into each category.

While men who attend occasionally are not significantly less likely to cheat than those who attend rarely, frequent churchgoers have significantly lower rates. Rare attenders are almost 1 1/2 times more likely to be unfaithful.

This sort of analysis cannot identify cause and effect, but there is evidence here that if you're married to a black man who goes to church all the time, you've got better odds that he's not fooling around. I'm particularly impressed with this fact, given that one meets many fine women at church.  

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Do people with certain personalities have more kids?

Using GSS data, I calculated the mean number of children of males and females who were at least 45 years old at the time of the survey. I used five questions that attempt to measure personality traits, and the table displays mean number of kids by possession of the traits.

The only categories that are significantly different are imaginative and unimaginative men. The guys without imaginations have fewer kids. Notice how few men will admit that they lack this trait. Those who do are probably particularly self-aware, or they might be especially unimaginative.

The other comparison that is almost statistically significant is finding fault among women. Females who admit to finding fault in others have fewer kids. As with imagination, few people are willing to admit that they do this.

Keep in mind that the heritabilities of personality traits are roughly 0.5. There is little evidence here of differential fertility across personality types. (Let's also remember that individual items are poor measures of traits).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Religion and trust

N = 8,866

N = 4,612

In What's So Great about Christianity?, Dinesh D'souza claims that religion makes people more trusting. Trust is an important ingredient in a well-functioning society. There's has been a lot of discussion in the Steveosphere about how diversity undermines trust in your neighbors, even among members of the same ethnic group.

The General Social Survey offers little evidence for D'souza's contention. In the top graph, you do get a little bump among people who attend church nearly every week or more frequently, but the lower graph on belief in a deity shows that those who know God exists are the least trusting category.

I'll have to look at it, but I doubt there is a positive cross-national correlation between religiosity and trust.

UPDATE: According to this study of 105 countries, religiosity is negatively correlated with trust.

Fertility before and after Roe v. Wade

In two posts, I described five different studies that conclude that more intelligent (or more educated) pregnant women are much more likely to get an abortion. It can be argued, however, that making abortion illegal will only increase fertility among less intelligent women because smart women can always find a way to get an abortion if they want one.

One way to test this idea is to compare the fertility ratios of dull to smart women who had their babies prior to 1970 with the ratio of those completing their families recently. In this manner, we can see how the two groups behave relative to each other both during an era when abortion was illegal and when it was widely available.

The first year of the General Social Survey was 1972. I looked at white women ages 50 and over for all surveys conducted in the 70s. The mean number of kids for dull women (Wordsum 0-4) was 3.02. It was 2.22 for smart women (Wordsum 8-10). That's a ratio of 1.36. Looking at this decade, I calculated means for white women ages 45-59. For the unintelligent group, the mean number of kids is 2.38, and it's 1.76 for the bright group. That's a ratio of 1.35.

There is no difference between the two periods. The higher fertility of dull women seen prior to 1970 continues to the same degree today. 

How do we explain this? If I'm correct that intelligent pregnant women are more likely to get an abortion, why doesn't their relative fertility go up when abortion is not widely available?

I suspect that the answer is contraception and perhaps abstinence. By 1970, 40 percent of married women were on the pill (Wattenberg. 1974. The Real America. p. 158). I've shown recent Guttmacher research that educated women are much more likely to use effective contraception. This was probably the case prior to Roe v. Wade. So if you take away abortion, but birth control is available, smart women will be more likely to use it than dull women and will consequently have fewer babies.

If I'm right, reducing the problem of low relative fertility among bright women would require the banning of both birth control and abortion. I don't see how that's possible, but even if it were, more capable women might very well reduce their number of children by abstaining from sex.

Of course, the real problem is the greater motivation to not have children when you don't want them, and to want fewer of them in the first place. Birth control and abortion are simply the tools that intelligent women use to end up with smaller families.

Changing the attitudes of these women would be a very difficult thing to do, which leaves strategies to reduce fertility among the lower half. I imagine that offering free and convenient abortions to poor women might help, but the idea gives me the creeps. In fact, even contraceptive programs aimed specifically at reducing the numbers of  poor people give me the willies. I suppose I harp on smart women having more babies, and being more selective about our immigrants because those are "eugenic" approaches that don't seem morally objectionable to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Abortion is for the educated

This graph is based on answers given by 3,683 women (GSS) asked if a woman should have the right to an abortion for any reason. There is a precipitous increase in support as education increases. For example, women who earned a graduate degree are 1.7 times more likely to support abortion on demand than high school graduates.

Now, why would this be? Are high-status women so much more concerned about uneducated women needing easy access to abortion than the low-status women themselves?  Of course not. Educated women are preoccupied with the ability to freely get an abortion, whether it be for themselves, a daughter in trouble, a son's girlfriend, a niece, or a friend's daughter. It's practically a requirement of "enlightened" womanhood to be pro-abortion. How are you going to run the world with all those rug rats pulling you down?


Here we see a similar pattern for men asked the same question in this decade (N = 3,060). Once again, access to abortion is a concern of educated people. Educated men want the autonomy to facilitate a move up the social ladder, so abortion is a vital option since children are long-term, expensive entanglements. Elites are preoccupied with freedom and money and status. Kids are not a priority.

As shown by the graphs, some ordinary people have these concerns--many do not. But this kind of thinking is the norm among elite Americans. If we look at women with 20 years of education (the highest category in the GSS data) the number in favor of abortion for any reason rises to 70 percent (data not shown). Among these women, it's the norm. Abortion is for the educated.  

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. If you can't think of anything to be thankful for, be grateful that blogging doesn't involve face-to-face interaction. I've got a great face for radio.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trends in ideal family size

This graph summrizes the ideal number of children as reported to the General Social Survey by women ages 18-24 (N=1,253).  Compared to previous decades, fewer young women are saying that two children is ideal, and are more likely to give three as an answer or to say "as many as a person wants." The same pattern is seen with all women ages 18-44; with only the intelligent respondents (WORDSUM 8-10); or with whites only.

Whether these women will realize their ideal is another question, but it is encouraging to see the pro-natalist attitudes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Easterlin on the Baby Boom

One of the more serious explanations of the post-war Baby Boom is economist Richard Easterlin's cohort hypothesis. According to him, children of the Great Depression grew up accustomed to a low standard of living, and when they participated as adults in the economic boom after WWII, they felt like they could afford a large family. And they certainly had large families, averaging almost four children. Keep in mind that this was in spite of a longer-term decline in fertility (one seen long before and after the Baby Boom).

Easterlin explains that Boomers grew up during prosperous times and developed high expectations for their own futures. As they entered adulthood, however, they were confronted with bad ecomomic times, and so the birth rate collapsed.

A good deal of research supports the idea, and it makes me wonder, for those who want to be grandparents someday, if it isn't counterproductive to spoil your kids. If they grow up having everything handed to them, they might expect a lot for themselves as adults and are likely to take out any economic troubles on their potential children. I grew up around small-town people who make their children work for everything, and it makes the kids feel rich when they grow up and get a job that pays so much more than what they are used to having at their disposal.

It make sense that Mexican immigrants have more kids here than they would back home because when you are used to Mexico's wages, working here can make you feel like you hit the jackpot (or at least it used to).

More on a Darwinian outlook

To continue the summary and replication of Jason Malloy's analysis of attitudes toward science and social liberalism, I put together a table of standardized OLS regression coeffiicients which allow us to see which predictors are most powerful.

The "Sci-Fund" measure was constructed by Jason to both capture a mistrust of science and to maximize sample size. You can see that it is associated with more conservative attitudes (being against abortion on demand, sex between kids ages 14-16, extramrital sex, homosexual sex, and being in favor of laws against porn).

It is clear that people who trust science also tend to have liberal sexual attitudes.

On the other hand, it is not significantly associated with behavior--the number of offspring (that analysis was limited to those ages 45-69) or the number of sexual partners in the past year.

In the earlier analysis, I found that supporting science had a negative but non-significant effect on number of offspring, and Jason subsequently found a significant negative effect that disappeared when education was entered into the equation.

There is a little evidence here that support for science is associated with fewer kids, but we're far afield from what I was suggesting earlier. I hypothesized that a Darwinian worldview might increase fertility. To my mind, there is a profound difference between an ordinary person who trusts what scientists do, or who passively accepts evolution, and someone whose worldview and ideology are informed by Darwinism.

I don't have a measure of evolutionary-informed ideology, but I suspected you might see it more often among people who do biology.

The main criticism of my earlier analysis was that physicians have different personalities than scientists, so I reanalyzed the data with the practitioners removed.  Critics were correct that physicians boosted the mean number of offspring: Once they were omitted, it was 1.48 for the biologists and 1.72 for the computer, math, and physical scientists. (The difference is not statistically significant).

So maybe I'm off here, but it might be that we just need a more valid measure of Darwinian ideology. Honestly, I suggested the idea because it fits my story. When I was a liberal atheist, I accepted the theory of evolution but my worldview was save-the-world humanist, so I didn't need to look to Darwin to give me direction. When I began to reject all that schlock, I was open to new ways of thinking. I considered  and rejected hedonism/libertarianism and found myself drawn to a Darwin-inspired worldview--life is about my descendants (and those of my kin). That theme led me to paleoconservatism and conservative Christianity (my roots). But hey, I could simply be an odd duck. I've been called that once or twice before.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Measures of married women's employment and fertility

FeministX has been arguing that employment among married women increases fertility by supplementing family income. It's easy enough to test with GSS data. I limited the sample to married women ages 35 to 44, measured during any survey since 1990 (to maximize N). A husband's income should matter as well, and in the absence of a question about his income, I used one concerning the socioeconomic status of his job.  Here are results for three different indicators of work: 1) full-time status versus all other statuses; 2) hours worked per week; and 3) personal annual income. 

All coefficients are negative: spouse's income as well as the three measures for the wife, but only those with asterisks reach significance.

As a women is more committed to work and earns more money, she has fewer children. This is true, independent of the husband's income.

The negative coefficient for income is smaller than the others: a large income might make job and children less incompatible as it better enables one to pay for services to lighten one's domestic duties. 


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Support for science and sex-related attitudes and behaviors

You guys have got to make sure you read comments that go along with posts; otherwise, you miss people like Jason Malloy. I want to summarize his analyses and comments in the post on the relationship between a Darwinian outlook and fertility.

First, belief in evolution is associated with less fertility, independent of theological positions. Second, he reminded readers of my finding that acceptance of evolution predicts a pro-abortion position after controlling for atheism and liberalism.

Third, Jason looked at the predictive power of believing that scientists always seem to be prying into things that they really ought to stay out of. It looks, however, like he is comparing the size of logistic regression coefficients. They are unstandardized estimates and so reflect the metrics of the independent variables. To double check, I'll estimate standardized OLS regression coefficients. (In the case of being in favor of abortion for any reason, I know that I'm violating the assumption of a normally distributed dependent variable, but a statistician friend assures me I can get away with it as long as the skew is no more than 75/25.)

The table shows that believing scientists do not pry is associated with a pro-choice position, but the prediction is not stronger than either political views or belief in God. Although the sign of the coefficient for being pro-scientist is in the predicted direction for family size, the relationship is not significant--an N of only 227 doesn't help (I limited the sample to those ages 45-59 for the fertility analysis). Finally, while political orientation and atheism predict number of sexual partners, a pro-science stance does not.

Like Jason's findings, these show some connection between supporting science and having liberal sexual views and behaviors, but results are not as striking or consistent as suggested in the comments of the earlier post. Jason did much more, but I'll have to look at that later.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Discrimination against vets

Academics disgust me. This week was the second time that I witnessed what looks very much like anti-military discrimination. We were doing telephone interviews for a replacement position, and one candidate seemed particularly strong. Great vita. Ivy League. Post-doc at an impressive place. Good publications. Math whiz. Then I heard the man speak. I literally thought to myself, "This guy sounds like Steven Pinker." Beautiful answers.

When we hung up the phone, a committee member beat me to the punch and started rattling off all the reasons why we didn't want the guy. They were all bogus. I'm a little slow on the uptake, but then it hit me that she didn't want him because he is ex-military. Of course she is not going to admit that. Either she outright dislikes the military, or she sees it as a sign that the candidate probably does not have a lifetime subscription to The Nation like she does. I proceeded to debate her but then the others jumped in and took her side. And veterans are supposed to get a break--what a joke.

I consoled myself that he's too good for us anyway and will do very well somewhere. Who knows, maybe he'll be out with his own Blank Slate in a few years, and I'm damn happy it won't have our university's name on it.   

My tribalist moment

I think I finally had my tribalist moment. As much as I like Sarah Palin and her politics, I continue to be underwhelmed by her interviews. So why, when David Brooks called her a joke, did I want to punch him in the face? Why? She's not my sister. Her populism is great, but I want to feel confident about a politician. So why am I so defensive? I never got this way when Bush was mocked.

I've decided the answer is tribalism. I'm like a black guy who gets mad when some white person calls Obama a socialist. Ms. Palin reminds me of the women from my childhood. The mannerisms, the way of talking. She's not my next door neighbor, but she could be. I call it the Fargo effect.

And it's not exactly a white thing either. It's a regional thing. Chuck Schumer could never flip on my tribal switch with his way of talking. And looks probably have something to do with it as well. There might even be a gender aspect: attacks might bring out my protective side.

Really, I'm hoping that Palin has an impact on the political culture, and that she perhaps paves the way for other conservative populists--maybe even a few from my neck of the woods.    

Coulter sounding like Jared Taylor--gotta love it

Coulter is always fun:

It cannot be said often enough that the chief of staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, responded to a massacre of 13 Americans in which the suspect is a Muslim by saying: "Our diversity ... is a strength."

As long as the general has brought it up: Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations.

Or consider the warring factions in India, Sri Lanka, China, Iraq, Czechoslovakia (until it happily split up), the Balkans and Chechnya. Also look at the festering hotbeds of tribal warfare -- I mean the beautiful mosaics -- in Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central, L.A.

"Diversity" is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought. True, America does a better job than most at accommodating a diverse population. We also do a better job at curing cancer and containing pollution. But no one goes around mindlessly exclaiming: "Cancer is a strength!" "Pollution is our greatest asset!"

Fertility among smart moms

As a follow-up to the last post, let's look at the relationship between working and fertility for smart women only. While overall fertility is a concern of much of Europe, the American TFR is over 2. Since we don't have to worry at the moment about the country shrinking, we can concern ourselves with the eugenics question. Following the same rules as last time, I simply limited the sample to married women with scores 8 through 10 on the Wordsum vocabulary test.

Married women who work part-time or not at all have more kids. The differences are more glaring here than for women of all levels of IQ. (Differences, however, are not significant since the sample is small). To be specific, smart stay-at-home moms have 1 1/2 times as many babies. Now that's eugenic.  

Female labor force participation and fertility

FeministX has done a couple of interesting analyses of the relationship between employment and fertility. Her approach is macrolevel: she estimates the correlation across 23 countries, and over time in the U.S. The problem is that, more often than not, you use macrolevel data when you don't have relevant individual-level data available. With microlevel data, you can avoid the problems of small samples, country differences in data collection, and the danger of making the ecological fallacy (e.g., claiming that it is working women, as opposed to homemakers, who are having all the kids when the data can't tell you that). Plus, you have to use whatever macrolevel measures that happen to be available, while with GSS data you can custom-design your age group, period, race, etc. The typical weakness of individual-level survey data is whether respondents can be trusted. Fortunately, a solid argument can be made that women in the GSS are accurate in their answers concerning work status and number of offspring.

To answer the question, does working lead to more children, it seems to me that we should look at women who are old enough to have shown their fertility tendencies but are not so old that their kids are grown and consequently have entered the workforce. How about 35 to 44? (Feel free to do your own data crunching if you prefer another approach). And let's look at only this decade so we observe recent behavior.  Also--I suppose we want to look at married women since no one would want to see single motherhood encouraged. Here are the results:

* p < .05, two-tail test, compared with full-time status.

Married women who work part-time or who keep house average significantly more offspring than those who work full-time.

I looked up the demographic literature, and the general story--whether from microlevel or macrolevel studies--is that working reduces fertility. The one expection I found was that after 1985 the relationship across OECD countries switched from a negative to a positive. Some demographers have explained it in terms of factors like wider availability of day care centers, flexible hours at work, maternity leave--basically more social support for working mothers. Other demographers point to the negative relationship in each of these countries over time (FemX shows the opposite in the U.S.) and use fancy models to explain away the positive cross-sectional correlation (I don't have time at the moment to figure them out).  So the conventional wisdom of the discipline (most clearly seen in the microlevel research) is that working reduces fertility--and fertility also reduces work--but work and babies are becoming less incompatible as societies adjust to the new realities. FemX's point that more income can help a couple afford additional babies seems reasonable, but mom takes on a much heavier load, and not everyone is so industrious.

I agree with the reader who wrote that talented adults need to get the message that parents have little influence on their kids' personalities, and that this old idea that children have to be doted on 24/7 to turn out normal is bogus. Send the tots to day care. Hell, for all I know, they'll be fine at boading school.

Let me add, however, that there are other serious consequences of female employment to worry about. It has probably been the driving force behind the decline of the American family. Now that women are working outside the home, marriage is no longer an economic necessity--it's a choice. So women are waiting longer to get married, delaying children, having illegitimate kids, and walking away from their marriages. And men realize that now a woman can take care of herself, so he's freer to not marry the mother of his children, to divorce his wife, and to fail to support the kids. It seems pretty clear that, overall, the breadwinner model is superior.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Darwinian outlook might increase fertility among elites

There is reason to believe that a Darwinian outlook increases fertility among elites.

Using GSS data, I formed two groups. The first is of math, computer, and physical scientists (n = 126). The second group includes biologists, agricultural and medical scientists, physicians, and veterinarians (n = 85). I followed this strategy on the assumption that the two groups are similar but that evolutionary realities are closer to the center of the latter group’s worldview.

Next, I calculated the mean number of offspring. I limited the sample to people between the ages of 45 and 69. For the first group, the average is 1.62 children. It’s 2.04 for the biological group. Confidence intervals overlap just a bit, so the difference is not statistically significant at the .05 alpha level (two-tail test).

I still take this as evidence that a Darwinian view might encourage smart people to have more kids. In an age where fewer and fewer elites find religion credible, we need to be Darwin’s evangelists. Of course, values cannot be derived logically from the fact of evolution, but I think natalism could be psychologically compelling to many if their worldview were Darwinian.

The weapons of feminism

The feminist movement has convinced many Americans, especially members of the middle and upper classes, that women, like men, need occupational prestige. An admirable woman earns an advanced degree and works a prestigious job that makes her a lot of money.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this kind of cultural value system is dysgenic. Children become understood as obstacles to status. A smart women is much more concerned about status and about not ending up a loser with no education and no career, so she is much more motivated than a dull woman to have kids later and to have fewer of them. She is also more aware of how today's behavior affects her future, so she is more cautious and prudent.

So how do contraceptives and abortion figure into this? Both are tools to reduce fertility. The first prevents pregnancy, and the second terminates a pregnancy.  These tools are going to be used to the extent that a woman is motivated to avoid getting pregnant and to avoid having a child, and to the extent that she considers the long-term consequences of her actions.

The data clearly show that the tools of birth control and abortion are used much more frequently by educated women. In this Guttmacher study, researchers showed that women with a college education are much more likely to use contraceptives and to have no gaps in use. Not surprisingly, uneducated females are much more likely to get pregnant.

Like it or not, what this shows is that birth control is dysgenic; it decreases the fertility of the top-half of the population while expanding it among the bottom-half. (I'm not morally opposed to birth control by the way--quite the contrary--but dysgenic is dysgenic.)

I've already shown in a earlier post that, among pregnant women, the educated are much more likely to get an abortion. Faced with a pregnancy that jeopardizes her road to social status, the smart women gets rid of the kid while the untalented girl keeps it.

For a person concerned about the declining quality of our population, the heart of the problem is a culture which tells a gifted woman that if she wants to be somebody she has got to give up having more than one child to pursue a high-status career. But contraception and abortion are the tools given to her to get the job done. They are part of the problem.

Many who are concerned about population quality applaud birth control and abortion because they are  focusing on the fewer births among the bottom-half. The racialist impulse leads some to favor widespread abortion among NAMs. But in their rush, they overlook the fact that the contraceptive/abortion regime works its magic much more on the talented top-half.

The core of problem is that we've been duped into desiring the means rather than the ends. Evolution gave us a hunger for status so we would be able to attract a mate and provide for all those babies. Children were the goal and all the stuff was just the way to get there. Now we worship the means and can't see that it's the humble among us who have all the riches.

Talented people need to get that message, but more on this in another post.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Question of the day

From this knowledge there has arisen that fine dictum of morality so much bandied about by the philosophical crowd that men are everywhere the same, and that having everywhere the same passions and the same vices, it is rather useless to attempt to characterize the different races; which is just about as reasonable as if one were to say that one could not distinguish Peter from James, because each of them has a nose, a mouth, and eyes.
Okay, who wrote this? And no google cheating.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

IQ, belief in God, and fertility

In the post where I showed that IQ is unrelated to church attendance, readers suggested that a negative correlation would be found between IQ and belief in God.  I looked at the question some time ago, but should do a test for statistical significance.  The above table shows the mean correct score on the vocabulary test (WORDSUM) by belief in God. As before, agnostics are the smartest group among whites, and are significantly smarter than believers. The same can be said of those who "believe in a higher power" and those who "believe but have doubts." Atheists are not significantly smarter--they probably would be if their sample were bigger. Among blacks, the "believes in a higher power" group has the highest mean but the difference is not statistically significant.

Turning to the fertility question, I divided respondents into a dull group and a bright group based on their Wordsum score, and I limited the sample to people between the ages of 45 and 69 who participated in the survey since 1990. I made these choices to maximize the sample, but to focus on people old enough to have had all their children and who composed more recent cohorts. I also merged the atheist and agnostic categories to maximize cell size.

Among the dull group, believing in some higher power or believing with doubts is associated with having fewer children. "Knowers" and atheists/agnostics do not differ significantly in their fertility.

This changes, however, among the bright sample. Atheists, agnostics, and those who believe in some higher power have significantly fewer children than knowers.

So knowledge of God does not appear to increase fertility among the dull, as Jewish Atheist argued, but belief in God specifically (as opposed to some "higher power") might  increase fertility among the intelligent.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Question of the day: Does the man just to the right of the black man with the mustache in the blog's header look more like: 1) Jared Taylor, or 2) John Derbyshire?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IQ, education, religious attendance, and fertility

Jewish Athiest's contributions are valued at this blog because he does such a good job of teeing it up for me. To quote him:
[Abortion's] just a symptom of the greater problem: religion is dysgenic. The less intelligent&educated, the more religious. The more religious, the more kids. Abortion's just a very small part of that picture.
Based on a GSS data of 23,871 people, the correlation between frequency of religious attendance and WORDSUM (an IQ proxy) is a whopping 0.00.  And the correlation between attendance and educational level is an even more whopping 0.02.  

At least he got the religiosity-fertility part right. One out of three ain't bad.

In the world of Americans who never go to church, low-IQ people (0-4 on WORDSUM) ages 40 and over in this decade average 1.82 kids. The number is 1.45 among the smartest non-attending group (8-10 on WORDSUM). A dysgenic situation exists in this secular world.  Are you surprised?  We would expect the incompetent to have more kids in an environment where it can be pulled off.

Among people who attend more than weekly, the dumb group average 2.24 kids. For the intelligent group, the mean is 2.10. In a world of religious people, the dysgenic trend almost disappears. 

Another way to look at it is, if we assume the greater fertility of religious people is completely due to their church attendance, then religiosity boosts the fertility of dumb people 23% while it boosts the fertility of the smart group by 45%.  The dysgenic influence of religion on the dull is more than made up for by the eugenic influence on the bright. Check out the Mormon case--a group with a mean IQ of 106.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abortion is dysgenic

This table reports the results of an analysis of the outcomes of more than 500,000 pregnancies (Social Forces. 1991. 69:1121). The numbers under the heading "Gross" are the percent of women in a particular category who opted for an abortion rather than giving birth to the child. Numbers under the "Net" heading are more important since they are the results after controlling for relevant variables.

I'm interested in the estimates for various levels of education--a proxy for intelligence. You can see that, whether we look at adjusted or unadjusted numbers, the probability of abortion for unmarried women rises dramatically with education. Given a pregnancy and focusing on the adjusted figures, a single women with at least a bachelor's degree is 2.8 times more likely to abort the child than someone who didn't get past the eighth grade.

The chance of an abortion for married women is curvilinear: it reaches its peak of 12.59% among women with 12 years of schooling. Compared to abortions by married women, those gotten by single women are more important since they are by far more common (according to the study, 76% of all abortions are by single women).

So this huge and carefully done study indicates that abortion as it is practiced in the Unites States is dysgenic.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The reality of unequal abilities

One of the most important contributions that the Steveosphere can make is to demonstrate and promulgate the reality and durability of unequal abilities. Radical egalitarianism has been a deeply destructive force in the West, and it's based on the assumption that everyone is interchangeable and thus any observed inequalities are unfair.

The truth is that abilities vary widely, sometimes by an order of magnitude. Let's use a convenient example--vocabulary. Most years that the General Social Survey is conducted, respondents are given a vocabulary test of ten words. I have not been able to track down the actual questions, but I'm sure they ask about words that are beyond a basic vocabulary. I'm treating the test as a sample of the population of advanced vocabulary words. Prior analysis has shown that vocabulary increases through age 30, so I've listed the percent earning each score for those ages 30 and up:

So everybody included has had at least 30 years to develop an advanced vocabulary. Everyone in America--even smelly homeless people--has access to a library where every imaginable word can be found. You can buy a dictionary with 75,000 definitions for about six bucks. Yet with all this easy access, there are people who don't even have 10 percent of the the vocabulary of the folks in the smartest category. Over one-fifth of the sample doesn't even know half the words that the smart people do. 

This wide variation is largely genetic. This article cites studies that put the heritability of vocabulary at over 70 percent. Malcolm Gladwell assures us that anyone can have a mammoth vocabulary if he just puts in the hard work necessary to build it, but wishing it to be true doesn't make it so. In the world of actual people, some absorb difficult words like sponges while others can't get past the basics. Simple as that. I run up against a wall every time I try to teach people what standard deviation means. It is just beyond many of us. God knows I've got my limits as well. I feel like an adult admitting that. We need to help everyone else grow up too.    

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Men and women in academia

In my experience, universities are populated with manly women and womanly men. I won't claim that academia is a matriarchy, but it might easily reach that point. It seems to attract men who lack the masculinity to compete in other fields. Perhaps aggressive women are drawn to the power vacuum or to the leftist culture.

Many of these women are tough as nails. If they had been running the universities in the Sixties and the student protesters had been, say, neo-Nazis, there would have been a hell of a lot more than four dead at Kent State.  

Who thinks genes are important?

GSS respondents were asked about the reasons why someone's life turns out well or poorly. One of the options presented to them was worded like this: "Some people are born with better genes than others." The answer seems pretty obvious to me. For example, if you have the gene for Huntington's disease, things are going to turn out badly for you. Genes for autism are going to change the course of your life just a wee bit.

But the most common answer given was "not important at all" (31%).  We really do live in a gene minimizing culture. Most people think in terms of environnment or free will.

I was pleased to see that my kind of folks have more sense. I looked at two factors--political views and church attendance--and discovered that the mean score among whites for thinking genes are important is significantly higher for extreme conservatives, while all the other political categories--conservative through extremely liberal--do not differ. Second, when lumped together, those who attend church more than weekly, weekly, or almost weekly have a significantly higher mean than those who never go or who go no more than once a year. My guess is that PC thinking has infected my group the least.    

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 ...