Saturday, October 29, 2011

Average Wordsum scores by age

As a frequent user of the GSS, I spend a lot of time looking at Wordsum scores. For those unfamiliar with the Wordsum test, it is a simple, 10 question definitional vocabulary test in which respondents earn one point for each word correctly identified from a multiple choice listing of potential synonyms (to see the actual test material, click here). I frequently employ it as a useful, though imperfect, proxy for IQ.

One reason for its imperfection is that rather than measure problem solving or deductive reasoning abilities, it tests for knowledge previously attained. Unlike an IQ test, Wordsum performance can be significantly improved by preparation, even if the specific words included in the test are unknown by the test taker ahead of time. According to my college psych 101 course, this demonstrates the differences between assessing a test-taker's fluid intelligence (which IQ tests mostly do) and crystallized intelligence (Wordsum). The two are highly correlated, however, which is why Wordsum results provide a useful approximation of IQ scores at the group level.

Crystallized intelligence is said to increase with time, as the accumulation of knowledge and experience builds. But at some point, the destructive forces of aging set in and begin attacking crystallized intelligence, the assault on fluid intelligence having been well under way for several decades.

By looking at average Wordsum scores by age range, the GSS allows one angle from which to look at the decline in crystallized intelligence and when it tends to begin. The following graph shows as much. To avoid racial confounding, non-white scores are excluded. For contemporary relevance, all results are from 2000 onward (n = 4,072):


Some noise notwithstanding, there is a steady increase in mean Wordsum scores from the late teens into the mid-sixties, at which point decline sets in. People tend to enter retirement when they're minds are filled to the brim. Those who are forced to work into their retirement years are not afforded the luxury of going out on top. It must be depressing to experience a seepage of knowledge in one's chosen career after potentially having spent an entire professional lifetime accumulating it.

How nice it would be if we were able to reverse the declines aging inevitably (or evitably, perhaps?) brings.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National government spending as a percentage of GDP by country

A few years ago, I became frustrated when unable to find a table of national governmental expenditures as a percentage of GDP by country. So, using data from the invaluable CIA World Factbook, I created one.

It's gathered some dust, and an update is in line, especially since something or other having to do with the global economy occurred between then and 2010, from which the most recent data come. An inquiry from an author (who I won't name but who is certainly welcome to be made known in the comments if he so desires) searching for more recent numbers served as the impetus to actually get it done. Getting out in front of the inevitable objections, a disclaimer: These data do not include all government spending and state, local, and provincial government outlays of course differ from country to country. For consistency, all figures are in exchange rate terms:

Country
GE as GDP
1. Iraq
88.1%
2. Cuba
86.5%
3. Ireland
67.0%
4. Lesotho
65.5%
5. Denmark
58.4%
6. France
55.7%
7. Finland
53.6%
8. Sweden
53.4%
9. Belgium
53.0%
10. Austria
52.9%
11. Libya
52.2%
12. Netherlands
51.3%
13. Italy
51.2%
14. United Kingdom
50.9%
15. Portugal
50.6%
16. Iceland
50.1%
17. Bosnia and Herzegovina
49.8%
18. Hungary
49.3%
19. Greece
49.3%
20. Serbia
49.3%
21. Equatorial Guinea
47.3%
22. Cyprus
46.6%
23. Germany
46.5%
24. Norway
46.3%
25. Slovenia
46.3%
26. Belarus
45.1%
27. Spain
44.9%
28. New Zealand
44.4%
29. Cape Verde
43.9%
30. Canada
43.8%
31. Latvia
42.8%
32. Bolivia
42.5%
33. Botswana
42.5%
34. Croatia
42.4%
35. Malta
41.8%
36. Eritrea
41.8%
37. Brunei
41.7%
38. Lithuania
41.4%
39. Luxembourg
41.3%
40. Slovakia
41.0%
41. Moldova
40.8%
42. Japan
40.6%
43. Romania
39.3%
44. Swaziland
38.9%
45. Estonia
38.8%
46. Bulgaria
38.0%
47. Algeria
37.8%
48. Saudi Arabia
37.7%
49. Chad
37.3%
50. Oman
37.2%
51. Macedonia
36.4%
52. Czech Republic
35.8%
53. Australia
35.7%
54. South Africa
35.6%
55. Burundi
35.3%
56. Malawi
35.3%
57. Trinidad and Tobago
35.0%
58. Georgia
34.8%
59. Switzerland
34.7%
60. Angola
34.6%
61. Ukraine
34.3%
62. Vietnam
33.7%
63. Mongolia
33.1%
64. Nicaragua
32.9%
65. Kuwait
32.9%
66. Namibia
32.6%
67. Jamaica
32.6%
68. Israel
32.4%
69. Kyrgyzstan
32.3%
70. Uzbekistan
32.2%
71. Seychelles
31.9%
72. Ecuador
30.9%
73. Papua New Guinea
30.8%
74. Aruba
30.7%
75. Uruguay
30.5%
76. Mozambique
30.2%
77. Zimbabwe
30.1%
78. Egypt
29.8%
79. Guyana
29.7%
80. Albania
29.6%
81. Jordan
29.4%
82. Nepal
29.0%
83. Lebanon
28.8%
84. Belize
28.7%
85. Colombia
28.3%
86. Kenya
28.1%
87. Gabon
27.8%
88. Panama
27.6%
89. Burkina Faso
27.5%
90. British Virgin Islands
27.4%
91. Venezuela
27.4%
92. Brazil
27.4%
93. Senegal
27.3%
94. Yemen
27.2%
95. Bahrain
27.0%
96. Azerbaijan
26.9%
97. Armenia
26.5%
98. Malaysia
26.5%
99. Turkey
26.3%
100. Morocco
26.3%
101. Tunisia
26.3%
102. Rwanda
26.2%
103. Tajikistan
26.1%
104. Ghana
25.9%
105. Tanzania
25.5%
106. Mauritius
25.5%
107. Mexico
25.4%
108. Syria
25.2%
109. Iran
25.2%
110. Sierra Leone
24.5%
111. Qatar
24.4%
112. Kazakhstan
23.7%
113. United States
23.6%
114. Argentina
23.5%
115. Russia
23.3%
116. Zambia
23.2%
117. China
23.0%
118. Sri Lanka
22.8%
119. Chile
22.8%
120. Guinea
22.6%
121. El Salvador
22.5%
122. Honduras
22.2%
123. Togo
22.1%
124. South Korea
22.1%
125. Cote d'Ivoire
22.0%
126. Haiti
21.6%
127. Benin
21.3%
128. Afghanistan
21.1%
129. Laos
21.1%
130. United Arab Emirates
21.0%
131. Poland
20.9%
132. Republic of the Congo
20.6%
133. Pakistan
20.4%
134. Costa Rica
19.8%
135. Cameroon
19.7%
136. Sudan
19.5%
137. Thailand
19.5%
138. Peru
19.5%
139. Taiwan
19.0%
140. Gambia
18.8%
141. Indonesia
18.8%
142. Cambodia
18.6%
143. Philippines
17.9%
144. India
17.5%
145. Paraguay
17.4%
146. Hong Kong
17.3%
147. Bahamas
17.2%
148. Uganda
17.2%
149. Ethiopia
16.9%
150. Central African Republic
16.5%
151. Dominican Republic
16.5%
152. Madagascar
16.2%
153. Nigeria
15.5%
154. Bangladesh
15.1%
155. Singapore
14.5%
156. Guatemala
14.5%
157. Turkmenistan
9.3%

To view a visual representation, click here.

As the Iraq war finally draws to a close, at least we were able to transfer one tenet of contemporary Western democracies in a recognizable form to Baghdad. What's that? Isonomy? Respect for dissenting viewpoints? Individual liberty? No, no, no, Don Quixote. It's big government, of course!

Outside of a few paradises like Cuba, Western Europe dominates the top spots. The US figure, in comparison, is a bit of an apples-to-oranges one, as the table is, as mentioned previously, constructed on central (that is, federal) governmental expenditures and does not directly include the spending by local, state, or provincial governments. Around 40% of government spending in the US is doled out through state and local governments, a proportion higher than just about anywhere else in the world. Consequently, the US ratio appears deceptively small.

Still, if non-federal spending is included, the US is neck and neck with Japan, well below the bulk of the rest of the Western world. As ubiquitous as government seems to be stateside, its presence is relatively small compared to Europe.

Parenthetically, Switzerland (for which the CIA factbook includes cantonal and municipal spending in addition to federal spending) , a favorite of the American alternative right, stands apart from the rest of the Old Continent. In so many ways, this beautiful Alpine country instills in pessimistic conservatives a hope for what might yet be.

As a Radio Derb votary, I've long wondered why Turkmenistan is singled out as recipient of so much love on the weekly broadcast. To an ignorant yankee like myself, it's scarcely distinguishable from the rest of the crapistans. I need wonder no longer. The Derb may claim that the president's name is the source of affection, but the table above reveals the truth of the matter!

The relative paucity of government spending in affluent East Asian nations like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and even officially communist China is to some extent a consequence of the absence of generous government-provided welfare systems in these places, with pensions, medical care, and the like mostly covered by employers rather than by the state, as tends to be the case in Western Europe.

There is a statistically significant but modestly positive correlation (.22, p = .01) between a country's per capita GDP and that country's amount of government spending as a share of its GDP. Correlation is not necessarily causation, of course, but with otherwise backwards countries that have enormous resource wealth (ie, Botswana and Saudi Arabia) tending towards the leviathan end of the governmental expenditures scale, to the extent that the causation arrow exists, it probably points from high GDP towards prodigious government spending rather than the other way around.

On its face, there doesn't appear to be much here that validates the libertarian view that minimizing the size of the federal government, and avoiding the consequent economic distortions its continued growth will otherwise cause, should be the exclusive goal of a society wanting economic prosperity and an overall improved quality of life. Ceteris paribus it's relevant, perhaps (I certainly think it is), but there are clearly a host of other demographic and cultural variables that are of greater importance. Who would rather operate a business--or live--in Nigeria instead of in Denmark?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Percentage of ancestral Mexicans racially self-identifying as white by state

Razib Khan recently posted a table showing racial self-identification among those of Mexican ancestry in the US as well as the racial self-identification of those of Mexican ancestry in a selection of states using data from the 2006-2008 American Community Survey. A couple of commenters, including Steve Sailer, noticed an apparent relationship between Republican-leaning states and the percentage of ancestral Mexicans in those states who consider themselves to be white. With Idaho at the top of the list and New York at the bottom, that seems reasonable.

Presumably, the relationship would work via the more conservative, traditional ethos and culture of red states encouraging ancestral Mexicans in those states to identify more strongly with the majority rather than distinct from it, as they would tend to in places like California and Illinois.

To flesh out the accuracy of the observation, I looked at all 50 states (to see an accompanying map, click here*). There looks to be something to it, anyway. The correlation between the percentage of ancestral Mexicans who identify as white and McCain's share of the vote in 2008 is a positive but modest .25 (p = .08).

One issue in attempting to discover how voting patterns correlate with various other behaviors or attributes is the fact that blacks are so politically monolithic. The common perception of Mississippi is that it is a patriotic place, but over one-third of its population is black, so despite having the most conservative white population in the country, there are other more moderate states like Alaska and Utah that show up on electoral maps in a deeper shade of red than Mississippi does. The relationship between the percentage of ancestral Mexicans who identify as white and McCain's share of the non-Hispanic white vote, however, is even weaker, at .18 (p = .21).

What about ancestral Mexicans themselves? Unfortunately, state-level data on Hispanic voting patterns are only available for 13 states where the Hispanic population is substantial enough to report on. Despite that limited sample size, though, the relationship is strongest here--the correlation between the percentage of ancestral Mexicans who identify as white and McCain's share of the Hispanic vote is .51 (p = .07). This appears to mesh well with the narrative presented above--the more Hispanics identify with traditional American values, the more likely they are to identify with the majority white population.

By way of the GSS, consider how well this seems to hold up on the individual level. The following table shows, among those of Mexican ancestry living in the US, political orientation by racial self-identification, with blacks excluded and extending back only as far as the year 2000 for contemporary relevance (n = 713):

Race
Conservative
Moderate
Liberal
White
29.4%
43.9%
26.7%
Other
30.9%
40.0%
29.2%

White ancestral Mexicans are only marginally less liberal than ancestral Mexicans who identify themselves as members of another non-black race are. To the extent that the effect exists, it's pretty weak.

Parenthetically, recall that among the broader American public, people are nearly twice as likely to call themselves conservatives as they are to call themselves liberals. The preceding table shows that among ancestral Mexicans, the conservative and liberal numbers are at parity. Excluding a Cuban population that is decreasing in relevance, Hispanics, irrespective of racial self-conception, are considerably more politically liberal than whites are.

ACS variables used: RACE(100), STATEICP, ANCESTR1(2101, 2102, 2110, 2111, 2130, 2183)

GSS variables used: ETHNIC(17), RACE(1, 3), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

* North Carolina really stands out as having a low percentage of ancestral Mexicans who racially identify as white. Is there an obvious explanation for why this is the case that I'm unaware of?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I wonder what she'd be like in bed and what he'd be like in the ring

It's commonly joked that within the first few moments of seeing a woman, men are envisioning what it'd be like to have sex with her.

I have to confess that within the first few moments of seeing a man, I'm usually doing something similar. No, no, not that similar. I'm sizing him up, assessing whether or not I could take him. Is this normal? If not, what do guys think about first when they see other guys? How much social prestige he has? How wealthy he is? Not much of anything at all?

How about women when they see another woman? How pretty she is (without the gratuitous male imagery that accompanies it)? Her sense of style?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Changes in birth rates by age cohort, 1980 to 2008

It's no secret that fertility rates in the Western world outside of Israel and the United States are below replacement level, and the populations in some developed countries like Japan and Germany have already began contracting. The US, at 2.06 children per woman, would be treading water if not for the country's net immigration level.

Sifting through new Census data, I came upon a file containing data on fertility rates by several characteristics of the mother. Although whites, blacks, and Asians have all become less fecund over the last thirty years [or not--please see Hail's comment below], their declines have been almost exactly offset by a rapid increase in the size of the more procreative Hispanic population, such that the total fertility rate in the US today is right where it was in 1980.

Also of interest are shifts in fertility patterns by age that have occurred over the last three decades. The following table shows the percentage changes in birth rates by the mother's age from 1980 to 2008:

Age
Change
10-14
(45.5%)
15-19
(21.7%)
20-24
(10.5%)
25-29
+1.9%
30-34
+60.4%
35-39
+136.9%
40-44
+151.3%
45-54
+250.0%

Women are having children later than they did a generation ago. The bulk of all birthing is still done by women in their 20s (see below), so the large percentage changes among women in their teens and thirties is less impactful on the whole that it might appear at first glance.

Educational romanticism and the accompanying societal desire that everybody receive higher education means more and more women are delaying childbirth or foregoing it entirely. The consequences are not only demographic, they are also health-related, as several risk factors for the child increase alongside the age of the delivering mother.

Now for the percentage of total births by age range of the mother in 1980 and 2008. Data are not available for women 40+ in the earlier period, so I estimated using simple algebra to get the total for the 40-44 and 45-54 age ranges, and then split that number proportionally in accordance to the most recent year in which births for women in those age ranges are recorded:

Age
1980
2010
Under 20
15.6%
10.4%
20-24
33.9%
24.8%
25-29
30.7%
28.2%
30-34
15.2%
22.5%
35-39
3.9%
11.5%
40-44
0.7%
2.5%
45-54
0.03%
0.2%

A plurality of births are now to women aged 25-29, a change from three decades ago, when women aged 20-24 gave birth most frequently. In 1980, women in their 20s accounted for 64.6%--nearly two-thirds--of all live births, while women in their 30s accounted for 19.1%, or less than one-fifth of the total. Today, at 53.0% of all births, women in their 20s account for just over half. Women in their 30s now account for 34.0%--over one-third. If these trends continue, in another generation it will be more common for babies to be born to mothers in their 30s than to mothers in their 20s.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

HBD, defined

Half Sigma asks "What are you doing about HBD-denialism?"

Creating definitions in the Urban Dictionary, that's what! Hey, it's something, at least. And voting these definitions to the top of their respective entries is something any reader is able to do right now, by going here and clicking on the thumbs-up for what is currently definition #7 [now at #2--keep pushing!], which reads as follows:
An acronym that stands for human biodiversity. It is the acknowledgement and study of how humans differ from each other on both the individual and group levels because of differences in genotype. Differences include, but are not limited to, personality traits, athletic ability, intelligence, height, health, and physical appearance.

"What are some things that HBD informs us on?"

"Why professional sports leagues like the NBA and NFL are dominated by people of West African descent, why blacks and Hispanics consistently perform more poorly on all forms of cognitive testing than whites and Asians do, and why the Amerindian immigrants mowing lawns in the suburbs are so much shorter than the residents of those suburbs, just to name a few."
We propelled NAM to the top in a matter of weeks, displacing the entry specifying the Southeast Asian country. The acronym for "happy birthday" is even more formidable, but I'm confident it's reign at the top is on borrowed time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Those who don't want the world to have more kids don't have their own

One of those fun troll roles to play involves telling secular leftists that irreligious Darwin lovers exhibit the least Darwinian fitness and telling pious creationists that they are winning the Darwinian race. While liberal atheists and agnostics aged 40+ average 1.78 kids, firmly theistic conservatives in the same age range average 2.69.

I suspected when it came to worries about overpopulation, however, stated beliefs would be far more aligned with actual behavior than in the case of evolution by means of natural selection. Expressed concerns about sustainability and the like aside, people who would see it as just rewards if homo sapiens go extinct in the next century hail more frequently from the ranks of those who think the human population needs to be reduced than from among those who want humanity to be fruitful and multiply.

Indeed, the GSS shows that tends to be the case. The following table (n = 1,520) displays the percentage of people aged 40+ who agree with the Malthusian concern that "the earth cannot continue to support population growth at its present rate" by the number of children they have:

Kids
Agree
0
65.6%
1
60.0%
2
54.5%
3
45.9%
4
46.6%
5+
52.7%

But maybe I'm following the wrong scent in my hunt for hypocrisy. If the rapture occurs in the near future and only those judged unworthy of heavenly entry are left behind to expire, the fulfillment of prophecy will have happily occurred and the result will be one in which the earth certainly will no longer be able to sustain it's current growth rate, yet you'd be correct to think that most believers ignore this when they fail to express concern about indefinite population growth in the future!

The following table (n = 2,392) reveals their hypocrisy by showing the percentage of people who don't think the earth can sustain current levels of human population growth by confidence in God's existence:

Belief
Agree
Atheist
68.4%
Agnostic
62.8%
Uncertain believer
62.1%
Firm believer
47.6%

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2010), AGE(40-89), POLVIEWS(1-2)(6-7), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), POPGRWTH(1-2)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Marriage durability by state

In taking a fresh look at how what Steve Sailer deems the marriage gap held up in the 2008 election, I came across an interesting US Census report on marriage rates and things related with data from 2009. The marriage gap still existed in '08, with McCain's share of a state's vote and the median duration of first marriages (age adjusted and for all races) in that state correlating at .85 (p = .00). Steve found a correlation of .91 (p = .00), though he looked exclusively at white women between the ages of 18 and 44. Those are extremely strong relationships for anything in the social sciences.

Perhaps counterintuitively at first, divorce rates also correlate strongly with voting Republican at the state level (r = .53, p = .00). That's surely not something that red state "values voters" are proud of, is it? Well, the confounding factor is that divorce rates are measured among the population at large, not just among those who are (or were) married. So in states where relatively few people get married, it's not surprising that divorce rates are going to tend to be lower there than in states where more people tend to get married. Indeed, marriage and divorce rates correlate with one another at .39 (p = .01) at the state level.

How about an attempt at measuring the durability of marriages by looking at the divorce rate in the context of the marriage rate? The following table ranks states in this way by taking the number of marriages per 1,000 people aged 15 and older that occurred in 2009 and dividing it by the number of divorces per 1,000 people aged 15 and older that occurred over the same period of time. So it's not measuring the healthiness of 'the institution of' marriage per se*, but instead how committed those who actually get married tend to be:

State
Durability
1. Idaho
3.35
2. North Dakota
3.34
3. Hawaii
3.00
4. Wyoming
2.98
5. Utah
2.90
6. District of Columbia
2.81
7. Delaware
2.60
8. Connecticut
2.55
9. New York
2.55
10. New Jersey
2.43
11. California
2.39
12. Virginia
2.30
13. Illinois
2.24
14. South Carolina
2.23
15. Nebraska
2.23
16. Texas
2.15
17. Washington
2.14
18. Iowa
2.11
19. Kansas
2.08
20. Alaska
2.08
21. Maryland
2.08
22. Wisconsin
2.07
23. Minnesota
2.07
24. North Carolina
2.06
25. West Virginia
2.04
26. Montana
2.03
27. Colorado
2.03
28. Massachusetts
2.03
29. Pennsylvania
2.01
30. Florida
2.00
30. New Mexico
2.00
32. Missouri
1.96
33. Arkansas
1.96
34. Georgia
1.92
35. Nevada
1.89
36. Arizona
1.88
37. Louisiana
1.87
38. Oklahoma
1.86
39. South Dakota
1.84
40. Oregon
1.82
41. Indiana
180
42. Michigan
1.79
43. Ohio
1.78
44. Kentucky
1.76
45. Mississippi
1.74
46. Vermont
1.71
47. Tennessee
1.70
48. New Hampshire
1.65
49. Rhode Island
1.60
50. Alabama
1.59
51. Maine
1.04

There is a bit of a generational issue here, as we're gauging to some extent how eager relatively young people are to get married with how likely older married people are to get divorced. Theoretically, younger people in a given state who are getting married today could be entering into much stronger (or weaker) marriages than their divorcing parents did when they were married compared to what is taking place in another state could make states where marriage is suddenly getting much stronger or much weaker stand out less with the old strength (or weakness) negating the new weakness (or strength). Or, the marriage rate in a state may be undergoing a major shift, with relatively few (or more) of its younger people getting married compared to what has taken place in the state's past. It's difficult to account for these differences, although states undergoing the most demographic changes are the most likely to be effected.

There aren't any clear correlations with things like political leanings or IQ that emerge (both are statistically insignificant, with only slight positive relationships existing with higher IQ and voting Democrat), as this accompanying map illustrates. Mountain states tend to do the best, while the upper Northeast and South fare the worst.

I suspected that among states where marriage rates are higher matrimony would be more superfluous than in states where fewer people get married in the first place, as if the relatively few people who actually do get married in states like Maine and Rhode Island actually mean it, whereas in states like Wyoming where everybody ties the knot, there are plenty of marginal people with lots of slack in their strings. Not so, however--the correlation between the marriage rate and marriage durability at the state level is a healthy .52 (p = .00). Marriages tend to be more durable in states where more people get married in the first place.

* In DC, for example, the marriage rate is on the low end among all the other states, but the divorce rate is the even further down the list, second from the bottom. Consequently, marriage durability in the nation's capital is actually quite high.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Illegals playing hooky in and leaving Alabama

Alabama's new immigration law, deemed the toughest in the nation, has been in effect for a week after surviving legal challenges brought forward by the Department of Justice . In those first few days, some 2,000 Hispanic students--presumably the children of illegal immigrants if not illegal themselves--did not show up for school:
Federal courts have struck down large parts of similar legislative attempts by other states, but Judge Blackburn allowed key provisions in the Alabama law to stand, saying they passed constitutional muster because they reinforced existing federal law [now dwell on the fact that the Department of Justice is leading the charge against Alabama].

Teachers unions and Hispanic advocacy groups, as well as the Obama administration, have filed an appeal, but the law began to take effect this week. Some 2,000 Hispanic students did not show up to school Monday, according to state education officials. That figure amounts to about 7 percent of the state's Hispanic student population.

Of course the parasitical educrats hate this. School districts receive funding based on enrollment and attendance, so fewer students means less money to squander. I think it's fantastic.

Many illegals are already heading to other states. This reveals, yet again, that the tripe about not being able to deport XX million illegals without turning the nation into a police state is a canard. When the state shows a willingness to enforce the immigration laws it is entrusted to enforce, most of the lawbreakers head for the hills (or in this case, the Rio Grande).

Such an outcome is hardly unprecedented. When the Eisenhower administration put Operation Wetback into action, it is estimated that for each illegal immigrant forcibly removed, 7 or 8 voluntarily left the country of their own volition.

Cliched as it sounds, the national question is one of political will and nothing else.

Parenthetically, the grand architect of both Alabama's and Arizona's immigration enforcement laws is Kris Kobach. I've met him multiple times, and the guy is razor sharp, propelled by an unrelenting desire to protect the national sovereignty of the United States. He's up there with Steve Sailer and Charles Murray among the public figures I admire the most.

Monday, October 03, 2011

That's so not cool

Parenthetical to this post by OneSTDV comes results from the GSS showing that smokers have fewer friends than non-smokers do, (medians of 4 and 5, respectively; means of 6.9 and 7.7, respectively). These items are only able to be cross-referenced in 1986 (n = 1,463). Smoking wasn't cool then, and after a couple of decades of visceral crusading against it, it's now something mostly reserved for low-class, antisocial types to do in shame, away from everyone else.

So it's almost certainly even less cool now than it was then. We probably have to go back a generation before that to find a time when smoking was hip, rather than immaturely rebellious, as it was in the 80s and early 90s, or prolish as it is today.

GSS variables used: SMOKE, FRINUM

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Peace is so SWPL

The Institute for Economics and Peace compiled a peace index ranking the 50 states (see the map here) earlier this year. The index uses five indicators in making the peace score calculations--homicide rates, violent crime rates, incarceration rates, per capita police officers, and the availability of small arms.

At first blush, the last indicator seems to reveal an unsatisfying leftist outlook in the report as less densely populated, politically conservative flyover states tend to have less restrictive legal gun ownership requirements than Northeastern and West Coast states do. That's probably a more-or-less accurate read into the authors of the report. However, gun ownership rates are estimated rather bizarrely by the percentage of suicides in each state committed by the use of a firearm, so while this is surely influenced in some degree by the availability of guns, it's difficult to dispute that a relatively high percentage of people ending their lives by blowing their brains out instead of overdosing on sleeping pills proxies for the violent tendencies of the residents in question reasonably well. Anyway, this factor was assigned the least weight of the five, representing only 1/15th of the peace index total.

Using incarceration rates and the number of police officers per capita is a bit problematic as well. Throwing increasing numbers of people who commit crimes in prison and holding them there is arguably one of the primary reasons criminal activity has decreased in the US over the last couple of decades. Similarly, relatively large police forces could be seen as a necessary response to a violent population, but could also be viewed as an expression--not necessarily related to the actual prevalence of violence--of how high a priority that population makes deterring crime and capturing criminals.

A few years ago, I computed a strictness index that ranked states by how many people they incarcerated relative to the amount of crime that occurred. South Dakota comes out as the most 'draconian'. This is notable because the report contains a "case study" on New York and South Dakota, the former being the state where the peace index has increased the most over the last 20 years and the latter being the state where it has decreased the most over the same period of time. Singling out South Dakota as a state that has slid backwards since 1991 highlights why incarceration rates and police presence are suboptimal measures of peacefulness--homicide and other violent crime rates are almost exactly where were 20 years ago, but because the incarceration rate and the per capita police presence have both increased markedly over that period of time, South Dakota looks bad. As a law-abiding citizen, if more thugs are in jail and more patrol cars are out than they were when I was a kid, but the frequency of crime has been held in check, I'm not complaining too much. These changes are certainly preferable to even a modest uptick in the crime rate.

These qualifications notwithstanding, state-level correlations with indices like these are rarely uninteresting. So without further ado, here are some of them. Positive correlations indicate the variable in question is associated with more peace, negative correlations with less of it:

Mean IQ -- +.62
McCain's share of the '08 vote -- (.31)
McCain's share of the '08 white vote -- (.58)
Median age -- +.28*
White population % -- +.48
Black population % -- (.56)
Hispanic population % -- (.34)
NAM population % -- (.67)
Male:female sex ratio -- +.26*

* Not statistically significant at 95% confidence

The only surprise is in the sex ratio, with relatively more men being modestly correlated with more, not less, tranquility. Crime is a young person's game, so it's hardly shocking that states like Maine and Vermont, where the median age is over 40, are among the nation's least violent.

As always, higher IQ is positively associated with a higher quality of life. And also as always, ugly a fact as it is, the more black and Hispanic a place is, the lower that place's quality of life tends to be.

Although the report, at 52 pages in length, delves deep in discussing the results and implications of the index, and the racial composition of a state is apparently the single most determinative factor in how that state fares, there is not a single mention of race in the entire thing. Those of us interested in human biodiversity are often accused of being obsessed with racial differences. Well, race matters. It matter a lot. Reports like this, in which the most influential variable is inexplicably ignored, illustrate that rather than HBDers being excessively focused on race, the majority of people are tragically ignorant of it (or at least profess to be so) whenever paying attention risks casting non-whites in a bad light.

It's plausible to think that in places where crime is an acute problem, whites react by tending towards political candidates, generally Republican, who take a tough-on-crime approach, and that is reflected in the strong inverse correlation between peace and the percentage of whites who voted for McCain. Whites in the South vote heavily Republican--at rates in Alabama and Mississippi that nearly mirror black support everywhere else for whoever the Democratic candidate is--and the South, unsurprisingly, is rated the least peaceful in the country.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Arab Americans are racially profiled

While I've seen Steve Sailer point to then Texas Governor George W. Bush's complaints about racial profiling of and the use of "secret evidence" against Arab Americans on several occasions, I was a sophomore in high school at the time and so predictably not paying attention to US national politics. Consequently, I have no recollection of any of it. Fortunately, C-SPAN, the network that carried the debate in which Bush made the remarks, archived the event. To view the comments in question, follow this link, scroll down to the transcript section, and then find and click on the 46:37 mark to jump the video forward to that point in the debate.