Thursday, September 12, 2019

Which races are the most generous? It might surprise you.

It's the 10th anniversary of 10,000 Year Explosion, a fantastic book by Gregory Cochran and the late Henry Harpending.  You MUST read it if you haven't.  I command you.

The book is chock full of provocative hypotheses about humans.  Let's test just one of them with General Social Survey (GSS) data.  The authors explain that hunter-gatherers routinely share resources, in part because it is difficult for mobile people to hold on to things.  It's also advantageous to cement positive ties and to make others feel obligated to you by being generous with them.

By contrast, farming selects for people who are good at holding on to possessions: seed grain, breeding stock, land, etc. A farmer who gives away everything will starve.

So Cochran and Harpending predict that ethnic groups lacking deep histories of agriculture will tend to be quicker to share with others. In the US context, this would be American Indians and blacks.

The GSS asked respondents: "People help other people in ways besides giving money, time, or other things to organized groups. Sometimes people help needy people directly. During the past 12 months, did you or members of your family or household give money, food, or clothing to any of the following types of people: The homeless or street-people."

Here are the percentages who answered yes:

Percent giving to the homeless in the past year

American Indian  55.4
Blacks  45.7
Irish  44.0
East Asian  41.7

Total sample 40.2

Mexican  39.4
Italian  37.7
French  37.0
Russian  36.8
German  34.2
English/Welsh  33.1
Scottish  30.4
Asian Indian  28.6
Norwegian  20.0

Even though American Indians and blacks are poor groups, they are more likely to give to the homeless.  Groups with long agricultural histories are less likely to give, even if they are wealthy like Asian Indians.

And if you argue that giving to the homeless is largely an urban thing, American Indians tend to live in rural areas but are at the top of the list, while urban Asian Indians are at the bottom.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:06 PM

    "The first agriculture in Africa began in the heart of the Sahara Desert, which in 5200 BC was far more moist and densely populated than today. Several native species were domesticated, most importantly pearl millet, sorghum and cowpeas, which spread through West Africa and the Sahel. The Sahara at this time was like the Sahel today. "

    The West-African/Bantu people have been farming for thousands of years, no?

    Also, I think you have to look at overall charitable giving to get any meaningful results. It probably varies a lot among ethnic groups whether they think giving directly to the homeless is an efficient way of helping.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I live in Brooklyn and there is no question that blacks are more generous to the homeless and street people. I think it's misplaced altruism: rather than create a society of plenty, they have scarcity mindset (sorry for that zernobitch formulation). On the G, A and C trains, black women returning from work routinely slip dollar bills and even fives to homeless.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ...a study of donations to the United Way of America charity found that White Americans give less when their communities are more than 10 percent non-White. Robert D. Putnam recently showed that greater racial diversity of a community is associated with a loss of trust.[976]

    MacDonald, Kevin. Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future . Kindle Edition.

    [976] Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century”; recent literature is reviewed in Salter, “The Biosocial

    MacDonald, Kevin. Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future . Kindle Edition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the response of working class whites to the question of donating to homeless people should be:

      "I gave at the affirmative action."

      Delete
    2. I think the response of elite whites to the question of donating to homeless people _would_ be:

      What are you doing in my gated community/corporate campus?

      Delete
  4. Because of weaker family ties, there are higher levels of homelessness in northern Europe (because people tend to be left to fend for themselves), as well as higher levels of loneliness and suicide. On the other hand, individual initiative and dynamism are much more characteristic of northwest European societies, traits that are “so important for democracy and civil society in the West.”[318]

    MacDonald, Kevin. Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future . Kindle Edition.

    [317] David Sven Reher, “Family ties in Western Europe: Persistent Contrasts,” Population and Development Review 24, no. 2 (June, 1998): 203–234, 215. [318] Ibid., 217. [319] Ibid., 219.

    MacDonald, Kevin. Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future . Kindle Edition.

    ReplyDelete

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