Saturday, February 28, 2009

Follow-up on happiness and fertility

There is one general and two specific points I'd like to make in relation to the previous post. First, in looking at the relationship between fertility and self-described happiness, there are many things associated with having children that are also associated with happiness. The purpose here is to provide a little more empirical insight into the issue. But certainty would require an objective measure of happiness, a difficult idea in itself, and a way to control for virtually everything that makes life what it is. The latter is particularly challenging, which is why there does not seem to be much of a consensus on how happiness and having children relate to one another. The Inductivist offers some sagacity:

Common sense dictates that people are happy when they are doing what they want to do ( in fact the statement is almost tautolgoical). In my view, what people want to do is influenced by what their culture tells them is worthy of pursuit, and unfortunately American society is telling women of all types that stay-at-home mothers are brood mares, while Hillary Clinton is what it's all about.
Probably the most obvious of those things associated with both fertility and happiness is marital status. Among married women aged 30 and over (so those considered have had time to start a family and also to avoid shotgun weddings that presumably do not provide optimal happiness), the childless report the highest level of happiness. With the exception of a slight bump in going from one child to two, as the number of offspring increases, happiness decreases.

Instead of suggesting that making babies is linked to happiness, I should just try to prod people into matrimony. Once that stage has been reached, procreation is 45% more likely than among those who are not married*. Lead a mare to water and she's more likely to drink than if you just leave her in the desert. Of course, a comparison of married and unmarried women is not apples-to-apples either, but most women can find marriage partners if they are willing to.

Also, the ebbing of time influences how barren and procreative women see their own levels of personal contentment. The happiness index for married women who have 2-4 children and those who have not had any, by age group:
Age2-4 kidsNo kids

To the extent that any speculation can be made, women who have had children seem to be happier once the children are out on their own relative to peers who never had any kids. Even though the variances are small, happiness moves in opposite directions for those who've had children and those who have not had them. Psychologically, that's noteworthy. With children, your best days still probably lay ahead. Without them, growing old looks drearier.

* Among married women 30 years and older, only 13% of respondents did not have any children. For those of the same age who were not married, 40% were barren.

Friday, February 27, 2009

No kids? Too cold. Ten kids? Too hot. Two kids? Just right!

++Addition++Please see the comments section for Jason Malloy's potentially devastating rebuttal to my conclusions, by way of pointing out that happiness among those with children comes primarily from marriage and not from having kids, and BGC's contention that survey data on self-described happiness is of no real value.


Crucial to Dr. Bruce G. Charlton's take on the underpinnings of sub-replacement level fertility in the West is the observation that women (and men) want to maximize their happiness, and contemporarily tend to do so in the pursuit of pleasure that does not involve the nuisance of offspring:
Low fertility is what happens when people seek to optimize their pleasure/happiness in life.

To put it another way (and in a generalization which includes men) a hedonistic life - a life of enlightened pursuit of satisfaction - will lead to extinction under modern conditions (although presumably under ancestral conditions pleasure-seeking would also have been fertility-enhancing on average).

High fertility in women who are able to control their reproduction is therefore not primarily seeking pleasure but is likely to be conforming to group pressure and/or to transcendental beliefs.
But are the barren actually happier than those who reproduce? Research on the question is mixed, but the GSS allows for additional insight surveys and studies have failed to tease out--the number of children, not just whether or not any have been birthed, makes a difference.

To avoid a skewed result from those who have not yet had time to start families, only the responses of people 30 years and older are included. The range of averages only represents about one-fourth a standard deviation. The differences are not huge, but the sample sizes are, and thus the patterns are real. The level of happiness (the higher the number, the greater general happiness is reported to be) by the number of children, for each gender (N = 15742 for men, 19187 for women):


Mothers of two and fathers of two or three report the highest average level of general happiness. For as long as I've thought about it, I've maintained that I'd like to have three kids, but am willing to compromise at two. Seems reasonable enough!

While it's said that men are more often the husbands of their wives than the fathers of their children, males get the longer end of the stick when it comes to procreation. Childless men are the least content of all, and fathers of large broods do not experience the same downtick in happiness that mothers do. In the traditional family setting, it's not difficult to imagine why this is the case. Whether it's two kids or ten, dad goes to work each day so he bring home the bacon each night. Mom is the one who really feels the added responsibility that each new addition brings. Also, to have lugged around an occupied womb for several years, cumulatively, must take a toll on more than just the skeletal system.

Moderation looks like the best course for women. Those who have never had children and those who have a house full of them both report lower levels of general happiness than women who have between 2 and 4 kids do.

It would be welcome for popular entertainment to portray DINKS as being more miserable than the typical couple with two kids. But that peachy portrayal of Sex and the City whiterpeople single life helps construct the cultural myth that children are an unwelcome anchor that weighs down those who have them.

Every Occidental country other than the US and Israel are bequeathing subsequent generations smaller than the ones that bore them. Of consequence are two major demographic shifts that carry implications of global importance.

1) The West is graying. The median ages in Great Britain and France are just under forty. Among the indigenous populations it has undoubtedly crossed that threshold, as is already the case for the entire populations of Germany, Italy, and Spain. These latter three European power players are all seeing more people die within their borders each year than are being born. Indeed, the population of the EU as a whole would be shrinking if it were not for immigration from South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.

2) It is also shrinking, relatively--and nearly absolutely. As Pat Buchanan states in Death of the West (p12):

In 1960, people of European ancestry were one-fourth of the world's population; in 2000, they were one-sixth; in 2050, the will be one-tenth. These are the statistics of a vanishing race.
Where then goes liberalism, capitalism, science, and democracy? Are these foundations, upon which the contemporary developed world is built, moribund? In varying degrees, they find some refuge in East Asia. Yet the Orient, too, faces the same top-heavy, unsustainable demographic problems the West does. In Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and even China, the total fertility rate is well below replenishment.

Readers of this blog have virtually all graduated from high school. So I'm raising the bar a little higher. If you have not already made it happen, plan to have at least a couple of kids. I would hate to see you fail not only yourself, but also your country.

GSS variables used: HAPPY, CHILDS, SEX(1), SEX(2), AGE(30-100)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Politics, religion, and happiness (ambitious enough a title?)

Arthur Brooks has argued the future of the GOP is bright because conservatives are more fecund than liberals are. Half Sigma modified that assertion by showing that the fertility gap by political philosophy did not translate to party affiliation. Self-described conservatives, whether Republican or Democrat, have more kids than self-described liberals, Republican or Democrat, do. Then there is the whole issue of immigration, but that's not the subject of this post.

Stepping away from the partisan labels, it is said that conservatives are happier than liberals are. It is also said that religious folks are happier than irreligious people. But self-described conservatives are more religious than liberals are. On a scale where 1 represents no religiosity at all and 4 represents the highest level of religious commitment, conservatives* average 2.87, moderates 2.63, and liberals 2.41, with a standard deviation of .94. The average liberal is less religious than 70% of conservatives are. So it's not immediately obvious whether religiosity is related to happiness while political conservatism is its proxy, the other way around, or a combination of the two.

From a GSS item querying participants on their happiness, I've created a simple index. The higher the score, the happier a group is. Levels of happiness are reported for the four categories of religiosity the survey employs.

Not religious
(N = 607)
Libs -- 1.05
Mods -- 1.13
Cons -- 1.20

Slightly religious (N = 995)
Libs -- 1.13
Mods -- 1.08
Cons -- 1.16

Moderately religious (N = 1859)
Libs -- 1.16
Mods -- 1.23
Cons -- 1.28

Very religious (N = 781)
Libs -- 1.26
Mods -- 1.33
Cons -- 1.39

That's a disparate way of taking the data in, so here is a visualization of the same (click on the image for greater resolution).

There does not appear to be much difference in happiness between those who are not religious and those who describe themselves as "slightly religious". Nominal religious affiliation, not surprisingly, differs little from having no affiliation at all. If these two categories are combined, leaving us with three levels of religious commitment--low, middling, and high--the pattern becomes very clear, as the second graph illustrates.

Both pieces of conventional wisdom previously mentioned have value. Political conservatism and religious commitment are each independently correlated with happiness. Religiosity is more 'influential' than political outlook is. Notice that highly religious liberals are happier than irreligious conservatives are. Yet at every level of religious commitment, conservatives are happier than liberals.


* The GSS uses seven categories in classifying political viewpoints. For ease of presentation, I've combined the three degrees of liberalism and the three degress of conservatism into single groups representing liberals and conservatives, respectively.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Believers want more (and have more) children

The great back-and-forth between Jason Malloy and Bruce G. Charlton led me to wonder if the trend of increased fertility as theistic confidence increases is conscious, or if it is a subconscious and indirect consequence of values and behaviors not explicitly related to a person's stated ideal family size. BGC suggested that secular women do not just have fewer children than the religious do, but that this stems from a desire to have fewer children to begin with.

From GSS data, I looked at the reported ideal family size* and the actual number of children had, by theistic confidence, among those who had essentially completed their total fertility (age 40-100):

Theistic confidenceDesiredActual
Don't believe2.262.23
No way to find out2.251.95
Some higher power2.181.98
Believe sometimes2.372.34
Believe with doubts2.342.31
Know God exists2.582.64

The more theistic, the greater the number of ideal children for a completed family to contain. It tracks almost identically with the actual number of children given birth to. That's not too surprising, since people are probably biased towards defining their actual family size as the ideal family size.

What about the nubile and their young nobles who are a decade or more away from finalizing their families? The ideal number of children by level of theistic confidence for those between the ages of 18-30:

Theistic confidenceDesired
Don't believe2.43
No way to find out2.23
Some higher power2.29
Believe sometimes2.45
Believe with doubts2.49
Know God exists2.65

At 47, the sample size for atheists is by far the smallest. Anomalously, two respondents from this cohort report an ideal number of children of six. If these two are removed, the average drops to 2.26, in line with the broader trend.

It looks as though early in life (long before family size is finalized) as theistic confidence increases, so does the perceived number of children a person should have. And across all levels of theistic confidence, people tend to realize those ideals**, with the more theistic slightly overshooting them and the less theistic coming up a little short.

It is not that secular people cannot keep up with religious folks. They simply do not want to. In the numbers game, though, the results are what matter. The question regarding Steve Sailer's suggestion that the future may belong to groups who are able to procreate the most is whether or not secularizing social trends are able to overcompensate for greater fertility among the religious.

GSS variables used: AGE(40-100), AGE(18-30), GOD, CHLDIDEL (removed "as many as desired", which is computed as 8), CHILDS

* For the question on the ideal number of children, the "as many as they want" response is filtered out, since it is coded as an 8 (that is, as though giving the response is tantamount to saying that the ideal number of children is eight).

** Incidentally, this increases my confidence in an assertion I made in a previous post that the most determinative factor in the number of offspring a man has is the number of offspring he desires. Except for in relatively rare cases of especially unattractive, socially awkward, or dehibilitated people, other personal attributes are ultimately of minor importance. 'Quality' of offspring, of course, is another matter.

Friday, February 20, 2009

QWERTY keyboard: A device lefties should be thankful for

Despite four of the last seven US Presidents being left-handed, the daily inconveniences lefties must suffer--the side of the palm covered in graphite after pencil use, the awkwardness in trying to write in a bounded notebook of any kind, the difficulty in playing pickup games of baseball (and no, we don't just want to be DHs) or golf, the inherent coordination disadvantage of a routine handshake--continue to go unattended to by a right-handed supermajority. In solidarity I preach that while lefties bleed, a right-handed world takes no heed.

Rather than launch into endless special pleading, however, allow me a moment to be thankful for one item of daily use that unapologetically favors the southpaw: the QWERTY keyboard. While working on a recent post, I took a swig of tea with my right while typing the word "average" entirely with my left.

In English, there are more words that are entirely the domain of the left than of the right because the left hand's territory claims greater frequency of letter use than the right hand's does. According to a letter frequency distribution calculated by mathematician Robert Edward Lewand, 54.02% of keystrokes are made by the left hand to the 45.98% made by the right*.

How might the right-handed majority realize greater parity in keystrokes? By learning to use the right index finger to reach the letter B, instead of the left index finger as is traditionally taught. There is little reason to prefer the left hand here, as the key is positioned an equal distance between the index fingers' resting positions on F and J. Adopting this change nearly cuts the disparity in half, with the left hand now accounting for only 52.64% of keystrokes, to the right hand's 47.36%.

* With the assumption that the summation of all punctuation--which is, with the exception of the exclamation mark, entirely a function of the right hand--falls equidistantly between the letter T and the letter A in frequency as the third most common keystroke, and also with a neutral designation for the space bar, which can be accessed by either hand.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Smarter countries send people to work, duller countries send people to live, seek refuge

In a previous post I showed countries 'sending' migrants for legal work-related reasons send better people than do countries sending a greater proportion of their total human shipment for reasons of family reunification or as refugees or asylees.

Continuing on that theme, I computed the percentage of migrants gaining residency by way of employment-based preferences by country for '07 from every nation that saw at least 500 of its people granted legal residency in the US during that year. Then I looked at the relationship between this and estimated average national IQ.

The two correlate positively at .51 (p=0). This relationship is attenuated by the presence of a few countries with low average IQs that send lots of workers to the US. Of the 127 countries who had at least 500 people granted legal residency in the US last year, Malaysia, South Africa, and India had the third, fourth, and fifth highest percentages of migrants come via employment-based preferences. The Chinese from Malaysia, whites from South Africa, and brainy Brahmins from India aren't representative of the larger populations in their countries of origin [Razib points out that high educational attainment is a better parameter than any of these designations are]. Removing just these three and looking at the relationship again for the other 124 strengthens the correlation to .58.

If we were looking at the percentage of a nation's population that had the ability to do well in the US, the relationship would be banally predictable. But with the average number of migrants per country coming to a little over 8,000 for the 127 countries, it's only a thin slice of the sending nation's population being looked at. If we take the IQ estimate of 66 for Zimbabwe, that still suggests around 50,000 Zimbabweans with an IQ of 115 or higher. Even the least endowed places could potentially send US employers a sharp contingent.

Yet even with numbers so small (relative to the size of the sending countries), a clear relationship between the percentage of those granted residency due to employment considereations and the average IQ of their home countries exists. Those who've found a place in the US economy are more likely to have come from countries with elevated average IQs. Those coming to swell the size of families already here, as refugees, or as "diversity immigrants" are more likely to come from duller places.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Attack trade deficit by trashing income tax, implementing national sales tax

In a column detailing the moribund state of manufacturing in the US, Pat Buchanan wonders how we respond to the persistent trade deficits Paul Volcker recently identified as the underlying cause of the global recession:
How do we correct those “trade-related imbalances” of which Volcker spoke? We must export more and import less, save more and spend less, produce more and consume less. We need to emulate the ants and behave less like the grasshoppers of summer.

But how do you tell that to two generations of Americans who have been raised in an era of entitlement?
He suggests an "industrial policy". A simple way to start is by instituting a national sales tax to replace the federal income tax.

Export more and import less: The FairTax, the legislative incarnation of a national sales tax, levies a 23%* sales tax on all new goods and services purchased in the US, whether they be produced domestically or imported into the country from abroad. Make imported items more expensive and imports will be reduced.

By scrapping the corporate income tax, exporters will keep the third of their profits currently going into federal coffers. Make it less expensive to export items and exports will be increased.

Save more and spend less: The income tax punishes wealth accumulation and rewards wealth liquidation. Americans must currently fork over money to the government when they earn it, but not when they spend it. When it's relatively cheaper to spend money than it is to make money, people save less and spend more.

A national sales tax does the opposite. It rewards wealth accumulation and punishes wealth liquidation. Americans will fork over money to the government when they spend it, but not when they earn it. When it's relatively more expensive to spend money than it is to make money, people will save more and spend less.

Produce more and consume less: As has been pointed out, eradicating the corporate income tax will lead to an uptick in exports by increasing the profitability of exporters. We'll produce more than we do now.

The national sales tax applies only to new goods. Sales taxes are not collected on the sale of used items. So the new car you're considering purchasing suddenly looks 30% more expensive relative to the three year-old automobile you're currently riding around in than it did under the income tax system. Consequently, you stretch the life of your car (and all the other things you own) in lieu of purchasing a replacement for it (and them). Thus we'll consume less.

* As a percentage of the total price. In terms of how state and local sales tax rates are typically discussed, it is actually a 30% rate. For example, with the federal sales tax in place (excluding state and local taxes for simplicity), a $1 candy bar will cost a consumer $1.30. Thirty cents is 23% of $1.30, hence the 23% figure.

If this seems misleading, keep in mind that income taxes are discussed in the same way. If a guy earns $50,000 and is subject to a 23% income tax rate, he has to cough up $11,500 (50000*.23). We do not describe this $11,500 owed as constituting a 30% income tax rate, even though the $11,500 paid is 30% of the $38,500 the guy gets to keep. Stating the national sales tax figure as 23% instead of 30% allows for an apples-to-apples comparison with the current federal income tax system to be made.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Climate change" overtakes "global warming"

I was under the impression that the phrase "global warming" had been progressively phased out in favor of the all-purpose "climate change", a la Michael Crichton's novel State of Fear (p314):
"Let me explain how you are going to solve your problem, Nicholas. The solution is simple. You have already told me that global warming is unsatisfactory because whenever there is a cold snap, people forget about it."

"Yes, I told you--"

"So what you need," Henley said, "is to structure the information so that whatever kind of weather occurs, it always confirms your message. That's the virtue of shifting the focus to abrupt climate change. It enables you to use everything that happens. There will always be floods, freezing storms, cyclones, and hurricanes."
I am obviously not qualified to speak authoritatively on long-term climate variations and their causes. Even if the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming narrative is accurate, it would still behoove activists to employ verbiage that doesn't cause skepticism or even welcoming of the putative disaster during unseasonal blizzards and cold years (or currently, relatively cold decades).

It does appear that CG is supplanting GW as the phrase of choice for environmental activists, but it has finally become king in just the last several months. A graph showing the number of articles by year in the New York Times containing the respective phrases, adjusted for the total number of articles annually produced (click for higher resolution) follows.

There are periodic spikes coinciding with the release of three of the IPCC's four assessment reports, released in 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007. The decline in media attention from 1993 to 1996 bucks this pattern. The time period corresponds to a drop in coverage of ozone depletion from its peak in 1991. Additionally, the second IPCC assessment's report for policymakers was criticized by lead authors for apparently differing from what the body of the assessment suggested.

Through the turn of the century, as the alarm was sounded more frequently, "global warming" was consistently employed as a descriptor about three times as often as "climate change" was. During the eighties, GW's usage rate was 315% of CC's. During the nineties, the trend was almost identical--GW usage was 308% of CC's. While the usage gap remained pretty steady, the usage of both continued to grow (excepting the momentary mid-nineties dip) as they became an evermore established part of the popular lexicon.

From the release of the IPCC's fourth assessment in early 2001, CC has steadily gained ground on GW. The number of articles containing the phrase "climate change" as a percentage of the number of articles containing the phrase "global warming" during this decade:

2001: 32.2%
2002: 37.8%
2003: 36.3%
2004: 38.6%
2005: 47.1%
2006: 43.4%
2007: 62.1%
2008: 67.5%
2009: 113.7%

Up to February 13 of this year, it has been employed more frequently than GW. As the winter of 2007 in the southern hemisphere and the '07-'08 winter in the northern hemisphere were both particularly chilly (it snowed last January in Baghdad!), in tandem with substantial increases in Antarctic ice sheets, the shift in emphasis has utility.

Tangentially, global cooling never received media attention comparable to that given to GW/CC. The NYT only employed the phrase once in the eighties, and its archives before that time (extending back to 1851) return a grand total of six articles. There was not a scientific 'consensus' on the reality of global cooling in the seventies to correspond to the GW/CC consensus today.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department targeted by leading Dems in the House

No-nonsense Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio is being targeted Democratic House representatives for his department's aggressive enforcement of immigration laws:
Four leading Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked the new attorney general and Homeland Security secretary to investigate civil-rights complaints stemming from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crackdowns on illegal immigration.

The four lawmakers called on Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate complaints that deputies used skin color as the basis to search for illegal immigrants. They also asked that a federal agreement allowing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to enforce immigration laws be terminated if any problems can't be fixed.
The 287(g) program, which the Maricopa county sheriff's department participates in, allows local law enforcement to arrest and hold illegal immigrants for deportation, and then be reimbursed for expenses incurred in so doing. Since partnering with ICE, Maricopa county has led the state of Arizona in year-over-year decreases in births--not just a decline in the birth rate, but in the absolute number of births. This is strong evidence that Arpaio's department is cleaning out the illegal immigrant population in Maricopa county.

The four Democrats can brandish their open borders bona fides. John Conyers, Zoe Lofgren, Jerrold Nadler, and Robert Scott each receive an "F" on their AfBI gradecards, placing all four of them in the bottom fifth of all current Democratic representatives.

For those who hoped Obama's racialism and overwhelming black support would translate into some sort of populist stance on immigration, consider those hopes dashed:
Legal experts have said Arpaio's practices were likely to get more scrutiny under the Obama administration. Holder has a track record of investigating allegations of racial profiling against police departments when he was deputy attorney general under the Clinton administration. As governor, Napolitano yanked state funding that helped pay for Arpaio's controversial neighborhood sweeps, which critics said were aimed at arresting illegal immigrants.
Half Sigma recently called Arpaio the best sheriff in the US. I'm inclined to agree.

Border Patrol may be insufficient to deal with Mexican gangs spilling into US

The state of Texas is creating its own contingency plans, in addition to those already in place at the federal level, for the potential breakdown of the Mexican government and consequently its inability to control drug gangs operating in the country:
Texas officials are drafting plans for law enforcement and military responses to the growing Mexican gang violence threatening to spill across the U.S. border. “Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere’s equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos,” Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank, told Fox News. “That would clearly require a military response from the United States.”

With more than 5,300 people killed in Mexico last year owing to criminal activity, Mexico has been identified in a Department of Defense report as a country that could abruptly destabilize.

While Texas officials work on their defensive posture, the federal government has already developed a contingency plan that calls for armored vehicles, aircraft and teams of personnel along border hotspots. Military forces, however, would be deployed only if agencies like the Border Patrol were unable to quell the violence.

Of the 18,000 Border Patrol agents, fewer than 2,000 are devoted to the US-Canadian border. Some similarly small number (I cannot seem to find an exact amount) are charged with patrolling the Florida penninsula and Puerto Rico. The remainder are tasked with the US-Mexico border. It is alarming that around 14,000 armed agents working the southern border may be too overwhelmed to control gang violence spilling over into the US.

The construction of a wall would be a permanent contingency plan to not only obstruct the movement of street gangs and drug cartels across the border, but also to break the waves of a refugee tidal wave if Mexico ruptures into an anarchic state without any credible centralized authority.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sleeping in the darkness to roam in the light?

In the comments of an Al Fin post on the reduction of sleep pressure in mice through regulation of a brain chemical, I wondered if the diurnal circadian rhythms of most primates, including humans, might have an evolutionary protective effect.

The thought process is straightforward: To wander around fruitlessly in the dark, at risk of walking unexpectantly into a predator's ambush, seems like a wasteful and dangerous way to expend energy. Better to be quiet and still when the sun's not out. Conversely, konking out during the day makes for a sitting duck missing valuable hunting and gathering time.

Another commenter dismissed the idea, arguing that sleep serves other functions. Right, if the only purpose is protection--or "preservation and protection", to be exact--why sleep at all? Diurnal mammals are not disciplined enough to stay quiet and still during the night, perhaps. But why then the rebound sleep the following day?

If, however, it optimizes the time in which necessary functions take place, that objection doesn't seem convincing. There are lots of anecdotal evidence that for many people, adjusting to night shift work is never a completed process, even after having burned the midnight oil for years. If I go to bed without an alarm at eight in the evening, I will often sleep until five or six the next morning. If I'm up until four in the morning, I'll crash exhaustedly, yet still wake up around eight or nine if I made some attempt to darken the room. If not, I'll wake up with the rising sun a few hours later.

Rebound sleep is deeper than normal sleep, so more time is spent in REM during the late morning after 24 hours of being awake than would be the case if sleeping normally, but I assume that's a result of deprivation. The sleep would be deeper still after 36 hours of being awake during the following evening after having gone the night before and all of the current day without it. It's been my experience that night workers are often able to sleep for long periods of times during the nights on their days off (my roommate does this) while most people who work normal workweeks are not easily able to sleep undisturbed from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon on a Saturday.

Night work lowers serotonin transmission and night workers experience more disruption in sleep quality from caffeine than daytime workers do. Night workers average less sleep during the workweek than daytime workers do, and sleep deprivation is linked to lots to harmful things like inflammation and more negative emotiveness. Why the recalcitrant desire to sleep most during the night instead of whenever it is most convenient? Is it all cultural?

I realize that uninformed speculation on possible evolutionary effects makes serious geneticists cringe. That's why I'm bringing it here (with much humility!), since I have some allies in that arena who might have something to say.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When it comes to current events, women are ignorant

According to a Pew survey profiling who watches and listens to various media figures and networks, women are more than three times as likely as men are to listen to religious radio broadcasts. I find this especially notable because it is my impression that men are more likely to listen to non-musical radio than women are, in part because men are better informed about current events than women are and also because I presume men spend more time behind the wheel than women do, where listening to the radio is most natural.

I suspect it is theological self-help ("How should I talk to my son who says he doesn't believe in God?" "Well, God tells us...") and shows that do intimate profiles of how welcoming Jesus into Sad Sap's life helped pull him out of the gutter that women come for most. I, a typical male, find those kinds of programs empty filler and would never listen to them. But I do regularly flip to the local Christian radio station to listen to guys like Tony Perkins and Jay Sekulow, as a means of getting the political perspectives of the 'religious right'. I also find Hank Hanegraaf edifying, because he spends much of his time pointing out scriptural refutations to various non-traditional Christian and quasi-Christian belief systems.

The previous assertion that women are less informed than men is borne out by the results in the Pew survey. It labels viewers and listeners as "high knowledge" if they are able to answer three rather simple political questions. The correlation between the percentage of viewers and listeners to a show or network who are highly knowledgeable and the percentage who are female inversely correlates at .74 (p=0) for the 26 shows and networks Pew presents both figures for. Stated in another way, for each one percentage point increase in a program's viewers/listeners who are female, the "high knowledge" contingent drops by 1.35 percentage points.

This brings to mind a piece by Steve Sailer, where he describes why men care about 'unimportant' stuff like Israel's military action against Hamas in Gaza or Timothy Geithner's taxation avoidance while women pay attention to things that will make them better girlfriends and housekeepers:
Women are simply, on average, more practical than men. They aren't as interested in big issues where they are unlikely to have much impact. They are more interested in how to improve their own lives and those of the people they care about.

I've spent enormous amounts of time standing around magazine racks in my life, and I can assure you that women almost never look at the prestige section where they group together "The Economist," "The New Republic," and "The National Interest," and other journals that don't have anything to do with your personal life. Attractive single women look at fashion and beauty magazines. Attractive married women look at expensive home decorating magazines.
It's troubling that men are an electoral minority in the US.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More on Pew's religion surveys, or why I like Mormons part XXIV

++Addition++Randall Parker calls for a more meticulous look at the effects and consequences of religious belief. I agree, at both the sect or denominational level, and also at the individual level. Piety is surely more beneficial for some people than it is for others. The same probably applies at the societal level.


Last year, I tried to glean some insights (here and here, for those interested) from Pew's US Religious Landscape Survey. Breaking up material into digestable and coherent chunks is not a strong suit, and an arbitrary third post on the project was left to gather cyberdust. Feathering it away, a few other points of potential interest:

- Uniquely, Mormons are both economically successful and fecund relative to the other 13 theistic affiliations* considered. They also have the most positive outlooks on life, suggesting their zest for existence doesn't stop at the office or in the bedroom. Of the seven questions asked concerning personal opportunities and life satisfaction, Mormons gave the most optimistic responses to five.

They are the most likely to be satisfied with the direction the country is going in, to be satisfied with their family lives, with how the political system works, with their personal safety and protection against things like crime and terrorism, and the most likely to believe that people who want to get ahead in life can do so if they are willing to work hard. They are the second most likely to be satisfied with their own personal lives (Buddhists are first) and the third most likely to be satisfied with their material standard of living (Jews are first, Hindus are second).

- The more Republican an affiliation's members are, the more likely they are to believe that people are able to get ahead in life if they work hard (as opposed to the view that hard work is no guarantee of success). The two correlate at .55 (p=.04).

- The percentage of each affiliation's members who believe the government should do more to help the needy, even if it requires debt financing, subtracted by the percentage who believe the government is stretched too thin to do anything more. Thus the higher the figure, the more supportive of governmental welfare programs an affiliation's members are:

1. Historically black64
2. Muslim56
3. Buddhist55
4. Other Christian47
5. Other non-Christian47
6. Jewish45
7. Unaffiliated39
8. Jehovah's Witness36
9. Catholic34
All affiliations33
10. Orthodox32
11. Mainline Protestant25
12. Hindu24
13. Evangelical23
14. Mormon7

Not surprisingly, the more supportive an affiliation's members are of increased government welfare, the more supportive they are of the Democratic party. The correlation is a strong .73 (p=0). It is worth noting that the correlation between support for increased government welfare and political liberalism is more modest, at .54 (p=.04). Members of historically black churches, Jehovah Witnesses, and Muslims are the most likely to consider themselves conservative relative to their support for the Democratic party. Buddhist, Jews, and other various smaller theologically liberal affiliations are the least likely to do so.

Barack Obama's election to the Presidency highlights the potential for a coming fissure in the Democratic coalition. Stark gender distinctions, a premium on monetary success and male masculinity, and (extended) family orientation (ie, family reunions lasting several days) are all held in high regard in the black community. When focused on it, blacks tend to be merciless in ridiculing whiterpeople social causes like vegetarianism, opposition to dog fighting (that one can really set them off), and pussy Prius cars. Environmentalism is viewed as borderline racism (that is, it is perceived as anti-black). These attitudes also describe working class Hispanics to some degree. On all of these issues, the distance between NAMs and whiterpeople is greater than it is between NAMs and middle class white Republicans.

Obama campaigned as a whiter in black's clothing to win over as many of the electorally important white voters as he was able to do, knowing racialism would net him large turnout and virtually universal support among blacks. To the extent that non-whites succeed to top positions in the Democratic party over the next three decades or so, that will probably be the primary route taken. But as the Democratic party becomes less white, non-white candidates will feel less inclined to cater to the concerns of whiter liberals. If current trends continue, by mid-century, the firm majority of Democratic voters will be non-white.

- One of my favorite bloggers is whiterperson Fat Knowledge. Although his writing suggests he rarely thinks actively in terms of human biodiversity, he is reasonable in considering h-bd when others point to how it interacts with this behavior or that outcome. So it's with a gentle jab that I call on him to admit that a post in which he insinuates disdain for "religious nutballs who try to force their religion on us" applies to a higher percentage of black churchgoers (69%) than it does to the other thirteen affiliations Pew gathered data on, including Evangelicals (64%), second most likely group to say their churches should express views on social and political questions.

- Below is a moral absolution index, computed by looking at responses to the question of whether or not there are "clear and absolute standards for what is right and wrong". The percentage of an affiliation's members who completely agree is counted as two points, the percentage that mostly agrees is counted as one point, that don't know or refused to answer as zero points, that mostly disagree as a negative one point, and that completely disagree as negative two points. The higher the score, the more morally absolutist an affiliation is. Conversely, the lower the score, the more morally relativistic it is:

AffiliationMA score
1. Mormon121
2. Jehovah's Witness119
3. Evangelical117
4. Historically black94
5. Catholic91
All religious89
6. Mainline Protestant83
7. Muslim79
8. Orthodox73
9. Other Christian69
10. Unaffiliated55
11. Hindu51
12. Jewish38
13. Other non-Christian28
14. Buddhist4

No big surprises, other than the relative, uh, relativism of Muslims. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Muslims in the US are with Evangelicals on most social issues. Maybe as a group they're more 'moderate' than they're given credit for. Or maybe their nuanced thinking about the issue of suicide bombing simply isn't as black-and-white as that of other Americans!

* Including Buddhists, but not "unaffiliated secular", agnostics, and atheists. That decision was Pew's, not mine.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What types of people cheat on their spouses?

++Addition++An error in the original posting has been updated in response to the astuteness of commenter DK, who pointed out that the figures for male median income were far too high to be plausible. They have been corrected. Also, please see Blode's comment challenging the assertion that thin women, as measured by GSS interviewers, are likely the most attractive.


Reading one of Agnostic's recent posts on the subject of female sexual activity by age led me to wonder what kinds of people cheat. Fast-paced thrillers designed to make the reader feel like an insider (I'm thinking Grisham or Crichton here) tend to portray the high-powered elite types in their forties and fifties and the aspiring members of the next generation in their twenties and thirties who are ready to replace them always running wild, with passionate but shallow mistresses (established elites) or one-night tangles (ambitious up-and-comers). My impression has been that those presentations are American Beauty-esque, portraying the upper-middle and solidly middle classes engaging in behaviors that more accurately characterize the working- and underclasses, especially the urban underclass.

The GSS suggests cheaters are pretty evenly distributed across social category markers. One shortcoming in using GSS data is that it only asks those who are married or have previously been married whether or not they have ever cheated on a spouse. Since those who marry are on average more intelligent and affluent than those who do not, much of the underclass is left out. What should we assume about the 70% of unmarried new black mothers with regards to fidelity? Commitment levels and expectations are a world apart here relative to the burgher world, so it's an apples and oranges comparison, although my experience* tells me faithfulness is more fleeting among the underclass.

In any case, interviewers are asked to report on the respondent's weight. The percentages for each weight class who report to have had sex with someone other than a spouse while married:

Men (N = 659)
Slim -- 29.2%
Average -- 20.1%
Stocky -- 25.7%
Fat -- 30.4%

Women (N = 843)
Slim -- 2.6%
Average -- 12.9%
Stocky -- 15.7%
Fat -- 11.6%

The higher rates of infidelity across the board for men is a result of the male tendency to overstate sexual activity and/or the female tendency to understate it. But there is little reason to assume that the level of exaggeration shifts by weight categories across genders. The GSS does not ask a question about physical attractiveness, but I would guess slim women tend to be the hottest (and also probably the least masculine--so try to snag a slender girl for marriage!), while average weight is probably the most attractive male category. Three-fourths of male respondents are gauged as average, while nearly two out of three women are. So among both genders, fatties are more likely to roam (probably in part because they tend to be married to other girthy folks who leave them wanting).

The average (mean) years of education for those who have cheated and those who have not, by gender:

Men (N = 6394)
Cheaters -- 13.49
Faithful -- 13.62

Women (N = 8551)
Cheaters -- 13.25
Faithful -- 13.27

There is little difference among cheaters and the faithful in terms of educational attainment.

The average (median) annual individual income, adjusted over time for inflation:

Men (N = 4243)
Cheaters -- $24,782
Faithful -- $24,830

Faithful men are slightly more educated than cheating men are. They make the same amount of money.

I am not sure how to gauge the same for women without artificially skewing the average based on family situation. Since faithful women are presumably more likely to remain married than cheaters are, they are more likely to have a breadwinner at home and consequently have less need to earn an income independently.

Average IQ, as estimated by converting Wordsum test scores, presuming a white male mean and white female mean to each indicate an IQ of 100 (with a standard deviation of 15) for the genders, respectively:

Men (N = 3152)
Cheaters -- 101.4
Faithful -- 99.7

Women (N = 4347)
Cheaters -- 101.7
Faithful -- 99.3

Cheaters tend to be a little more intelligent than the faithful are.

Across three of the four variables, the differences among cheaters and the faithful are modest. Life outcomes in terms of income, intelligence, and education do not seem to substantially predict levels of infidelity, although it is worth noting that those who are faithful appear, in aggregate, to make a little more (income, educational attainment) out of what they're given (intelligence) than the unfaithful do.

What, then, predicts fidelity? The percentage of cheaters for each response to the question of confidence in the existence of God:

Men (N = 2835)
Do not believe -- 30.2%
No way to find out -- 28.3%
Some higher power -- 26.9%
Believe sometimes -- 24.3%
Believe with doubts -- 21.1%
Know God exists -- 20.2%

Women (N = 3747)
Do not believe -- 16.7%
No way to find out -- 18.2%
Some higher power -- 25.0%
Believe sometimes -- 11.0%
Believe with doubts -- 13.6%
Know God exists -- 11.5%

Stay away from girls who are into mystical stuff like Kaballah, Yoga, and Buddhism.

The percentage of cheaters among self-described political liberals, moderates, and conservatives:

Men (N = 5549)
Liberal -- 25.5%
Moderate -- 21.5%
Conservative -- 18.7%

Women (N = 7247)
Liberal -- 16.5%
Moderate -- 13.1%
Conservative -- 10.5%

Get a girl you're interested in to tell you all her thoughts on God and the President. Other things equal, find a conservative girl who loves Jesus (and probably her mom and daddy, too). The same advice applies to women seeking husbands. The firmer his theism is, the less likely he is to run around on you.

* Anecdotally, three times I've been appoached by the girls of guys I'm acquainted with (though not friends with). All three are from working class backgrounds, and two of the three are dysfunctional at that.