Thursday, February 28, 2013

Counting blue gods

Like children often do, I have many questions. To the GSS I say, "Tell me all your thoughts on God". The following graphs show the percentage distributions for four categories of theistic belief across a host of usual-suspect variables. For contemporary relevance, all results are from 2000 onward. By race:

By sex:

 By political orientation:
By partisan affiliation:

By community type at the age of 16:

By social class:

By age range:

By intelligence*:

By educational attainment:

The quintessential atheist is a high IQ, upper class, urban, white (or Asian), young, liberal Democratic guy with a doctorate. Firm belief is pretty much the norm across the board and a plurality just about anyway one broadly slices it, but the further one moves away from the quintessential atheist, the more theistic things become.

GSS variables used: GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), SEX(1)(2), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), PARTYID(0-2)(3)(4-6), RES16(1-2)(3-4)(5-6), CLASS, AGE(18-29)(30-44)(45-64)(65-89), -WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), YEAR(2000-2010)

* For intelligence, respondents are broken up into five categories that come to roughly resemble a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Racial composition of smokers of top cigarette brands in the US

Journey into my head for a moment to take a gander at the cigarette brand stereotypes I hold.

To the extent that SWPLs still smoke cigarettes, they smoke Camels, especially Turkish blends. Blacks love menthol, and Newport is the premier menthol brand (Kool isn't the Pepsi to Newport's Coke, it's the 7 Up). Hispanics, especially the short, brown ones who know less English than you know Spanish, have an affinity for the gaucho/cowboy image--makes them feel a bit more at home, or at least better about being away from it. Pall Mall is the non-generic brand of choice for white trash. Doral is the more multicultural non-generic choice of the poor proles. Winston is a classier Marlboro.

Now let's put the tagline into action and validate these conceptions to the extent that they're worthy of validation. The following graphs show the racial breakdown of smokers of the top six most popular cigarette brands in the US as of 2011. Data comes from the National Survey on Health and Drug Use and the CDC:

Marlboro has the largest Hispanic share of the big brands. So far, so good.

Yeah, that one was easy. You really have to have your head in the sand or live a life in which you rarely come into contact with the lower rungs of society not to realize that Newports are as black a brand as are Air Jordans and Church's Chicken. Yes, Barack Obama purportedly used to smoke Marlboros, not Newports. That shouldn't come as a surprise (though I would've guessed he smoked Camels).

Difficult to tell from racial composition alone. It's not the whitest brand, but it is the least black brand, which is a fairly good indication that it's yuppie stuff.

So white. But these are the wrong kind of white people. They're apt to call these things "pell mells" or in some other way butcher the pronunciation of such a simple rhyming phrase.

Winston is the brand that most closely mirrors old stock America.

Okay, maybe Doral more closely mirrors old stock America than Winston does. Perhaps I need to claibrate a little--Winston is the classier Doral.

National Survey on Health and Drug Use variables used: CIG30BR2(104, 107, 115, 118, 119, 126), NEWRACE2(1)(2)(3)(4-5)(6)(7)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Opposition to premarital sex over time

A few years ago, I looked at trends in US public opinion on seven major social issues and came to the conclusion that, with the exception of same-sex marriage, traditionalists are doing a decent job of holding the line (see Dan's comments for a more finely grained, contemporary discussion of as much). Levels of support for abortion, capital punishment, affirmative action, wealth redistribution, and permitting prayer in public schools are at the same levels today that they were forty years ago (the seventh issue, support for marijuana legalization, has crept up slightly but remains a minority position).

Here's another pervious point in the traditionalist's perimeter, however. The following graph shows the percentages of respondents over time who said that sexual relations between two people prior to marriage are either "always wrong" or "almost always wrong" (the other two options were "sometimes wrong" and "not wrong at all"):

The mean liberal position of a generation ago has become the mean mainstream position of today. The mean mainstream position of a generation ago has become the mean conservative position of today. When the ratchet turns, it turns to the left.

The treatment in popular culture of the idea that a couple should refrain from having sex until they've tied the knot as something quaint, prude, anachronistic, and, most importantly, unserious, demonstrates how the Establishment is comprised primarily of progressive standard-bearers. Not that I can legitimately distance myself from said treatment--while I'm sympathetic and theoretically supportive of the idea that premarital sex is civilizationally destructive, my behavior doesn't adhere abide by it, nor do the behaviors of just about everyone I know.

According to one of Jayman's hypotheses (and the guy seems to be generating an intriguing new one every week), it's plausible to think that not only will traditionalists hold the line, but that in the future, aided by a conservative advantage in fecundity, they will stage a counter offensive and push progressive positions on these issues back from whence they came.

Maybe. While the seven issues mentioned above are reasonably representative, they are of course not exhaustive, as the persistent shift towards moral acceptance of premarital sex illustrates. It gets at the question of how substantive the Jayman hypothesis will be if it plays out as predicted. If self-identified conservatives increase as a proportion of the total population but the positions they hold morph into those their parents' generation opposed, are traditionalists on the receiving end of little more than empty semantic success, of a Pyrrhic victory?

GSS variables used: PREMARSX(1-2)(3-4), YEAR, POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Radiohead vs Dave Matthews Band

My brother is a junior in college, at the age when passion naturally flows into debates about which band is the greatest ever, speculations on eschatology, and the like. He's a connoisseur of contemporary music, and puts Radiohead at the top of the pile. I have been since adolescence and remain today a dmb votary, so when he baited me by asserting that Radiohead is the better band, I bit. I asked, "Who's going to be remembered a generation from now?"

His arguments for Radiohead: The songwriting is cohesive and credited to all five members (dmb's is mostly to the band's eponymous lead singer), band membership has been stable for three decades (dmb saxophonist Leroi Moore died in '08 and there have been both previous and subsequent member acquisitions and resignations), the band is album-focused and albums are what last through the years (roughly half of dmb's song library has never been recorded in studio), they show up on many contemporary lists of greatest active bands (dmb never does), they've pushed the envelope musically more than just about any other major act has over the last couple of decades, and they don't make anything of suboptimal quality (dmb has Stand Up).

Mine: The top grossing and ticket selling musical act of the 2000s. Beat Kenny Chesney, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Madonna, Elton John, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffet, and anyone else you can think of (no Radiohead here--this is the majors, not the farm league). If that's not enough, they've had the most consecutive #1 Billboard album debuts in the chart's history, ahead of the likes of Metallica, Eminem, Madonna, and U2. They've got Radiohead on the diversity front--four black guys (including Rashawn Ross) and a native African beats a bunch of white guys from England. They've got them on musical diversity as well--mainstreaming the fiddle, horns, saxophones, and soul vocals isn't an easy task. Dmb's appeal is wider--women listen (they don't really to Radiohead) and the age range is wider. When it comes to improvisation, there's really no contest:

Another factor, however, that suggests posterity might favor Radiohead is that music critics adore them while having never embraced dmb (Jim DeRogatis' 1998 review in Rolling Stone magazine epitomizing this) for a host of speculative reasons: The band's diversity integrates in the wrong direction--it features black guys doing 'white' things (playing instruments but not singing) and draws overwhelmingly white crowds who are, contrary to uninterested conventional belief (that pegs them as hippies), primarily frat boy yuppie types who grew into accountants and financial advisers; Dave's voice is an acquired taste; the music isn't tight enough to fit the three-minute-ditty template and, at least from afar, the atmosphere feels too much like the one the Grateful Dead inhabited a generation before; and the focus is on making stuff that is euphonious rather than novel, experimental, or danceable.

Since I've lost all but those who happen to share my enjoyment of dmb, a suggestion for a group that rumor and speculation suggest might be on another precipice--bring to studio the golden stuff that has never found its way into the studio (loosely including RTT). How about this for a prospective album (produced by Lillywhite, without negotiability)?

Granny (opening lines are perfect to open an album)
Idea of You
Break Free
Sweet Up and Down
Sugar Will
Kind Intentions
#40 (the first nine being something of a story of the initial meetup that turned into a lifelong relationship) Spotlight
Toy Soldiers (these two because they're poetically great)
Blue Water Baboon Farm (fits the same mold as Bartender, Spoon, Proudest Monkey, and Drunken Soldier as album sendoffs)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Baby-making among non-whites by political orientation over time

Marshaling evidence from the GSS, Jayman has thoughtfully and diligently looked at white fertility rates by political orientation over time. The tendency for conservatives to be more fecund than liberals extends at least as far back as the cohort of people born in the 1920s, and it has become more pronounced since then. Jayman argues this presages a future in which whites become, on average, increasingly conservative in their political outlooks. Given the partial heritability of political orientation, this is a plausible assertion (at least in a relative sense--the political ratchet seems almost inexorably to always turn to the left, with the consequence that oftentimes what was leftist a generation ago is considered mainstream today and what was conservative a generation ago is viewed as being totally beyond the pale today).

I've wondered, though, if the same argument applies to non-whites*. The following graph shows the mean number of children among liberal, moderate, and conservative non-whites by range of year of birth. For consistency, I used the same birth cohorts and years of survey participation as Jayman did:

Like whites, conservative non-whites have been outbreeding liberal non-whites for nearly a century now, yet it hardly seems obvious that non-whites have moved to the right (absolutely or relatively) over the last several decades, nor does it seem a prudent to bet that they will in the future. And the social-versus-economic angle doesn't hopelessly confound here--non-whites are moving to the left on social issues, not just on economic ones.

This epigone isn't an augur so I won't prognosticate about the trajectory of non-white political orientation in the future. I merely hope (though I'm not optimistic) that the political beliefs of tomorrow are recognizable by their ideological flavors rather than by the race and ethnicity of the person espousing them.

GSS variables used: COHORT(1883-1909)(1910-1919)(1920-1929)(1930-1939)(1940-1949)(1950-1959)(1960-1969)(1970-1979), YEAR(1972-2010)(1985-2010)(1993-2010)(2002-2010)(2006-2010), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), CHILDS, RACE(2-3)

* Referring here to those who selected either "black" or "other" from the three choices "white", "black", and "other".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Regular church attendance rates by party over time

Razib's informative post relating Asian-American religious affiliation to electoral behavior spurred me to take a look at the relationship between regular church attendance and partisan affiliation among self-identified Christians in the US over the last several decades. My impression was that the difference in attendance rates by party have become starker over time, Jimmy Carter being more overt about his religion than Barack Obama is and Gerald Ford being considerably less so than the second George Bush was while in office.

It's important to keep in mind that we're looking at those with either a Protestant or Catholic religious affiliation. Non-Christians and those without any religious identification at all are not considered. In a subsequent post I'll take a look at religious affiliation by party over time, but for now let's just consider expressed piety (evaluated by whether or not a respondent attends services on at least a weekly basis) among those who identify as Christians. To avoid racial confounding, the analysis is limited only to whites. Note also the range display from 15%-45% of the self-identified Christian population. Even among white Christian Republicans, it has persistently been the case that only a minority attends services on a regular basis:

Independents and moderates are, on the whole, less knowledgeable and less actionable than committed ideologues and partisans are, and that shows up here as well. The tendency among Christians for Republicans to be more religiously active than Democrats and moderates existed at least as far back as the early seventies, continued over the course of that decade, and had become pretty firmly established by the time Reagan left office. The partisan gap has only widened since then.

That said, the differences aren't stark. Today we'd report them by saying that while 4-in-10 Christian Republicans attend services at least once a week, only 3-in-10 Christian Democrats do. Quite similar, really. I suspect the bigger story is in the drop off in Christian identification among Democrats (but not among Republicans) over the same time span.

GSS variables used: RELIG(1-2), RACE(1), PARTYID(0-1)(3)(5-6), ATTEND(0-6)(7-8)

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The service economy

I remember hearing in junior high and high school a fair amount about how the US had become a "service economy" and that the provision of services had replaced the provision of goods as the marker of a country's affluence; in college, I recall a handful of passing references being made; contemporaneously, I can't think of a time in the last five years that I've heard a reference to the service economy being made. From Google's Ngram viewer, the percentage of books published in the US that have contained the phrase, from 1960 through 2008:

I fear that professing to your neighbor's kids about Mexican feminism so that he'll do your taxes so you can use your refund to have your other neighbor adjust your lower spine so that you're comfortable when you sit down with your financial adviser to discuss your targeted retirement account isn't as surefire a way to national riches as we once assumed it was.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

In government we trust?

Just in time for the bipartisan, full-court amnesty press, Pew provides some insight into why our political class is so eager to elect a new people. The research center surveyed people in the US on the levels of trust they have in the federal government.

Guess which group was the most likely to say that they can "trust the government in Washington to do what is right". This group reports higher levels of trust in the federal government than blacks or even self-described liberal Democrats do. Hint: The GOP's response to Obama's state of the union address will be given by an invade-the-world, invite-the-world neocon who will be delivering said response in both English and Spanish.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The windy city is to die for

Reading through the comments at Randall Parker's Parapundit, I see the proprietor himself musing on murder, specifically Illinois' high rate of unsolved homicides:
I would have expected the rest of Illinois (55.4%) to dilute the state-level effects of Chicago. But no.
In 2009, the most recent year for which I've gathered detailed homicide data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the entire state of Illinois logged 477 non-negligent murders. That same year, the city of Chicago alone recorded 459. Over 96% of the state's killing takes place in a city that holds around one-quarter (depending on the city proper is counted) of its total population.

Wow. This is presumably an extreme but informative example of how urban/rural differences are probably a lot more important when it comes to determining violent crime rates than state-to-state differences are.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

IQ and homicide

The inverse correlation between mean white IQ (as estimated by NAEP scores) and the white homicide offender rate at the state level in the US is a statistically significant .67 (p = 0).

A few technical notes: Florida is excluded for lack of adequate FBI uniform crime reporting data. "White" includes Hispanics who racially identify as white. To compute the total white NAEP scores for each state, I took NAEP results for 8th graders from 2005 and then weighted the non-Hispanic white and Hispanic scores according to how much of the total white test-taking population each comprised. For the states in which the Hispanic population is too small to be reliably reported, I used the average Hispanic score from the states where the Hispanic populations are large enough for mean scores to be reported.

Intelligence doesn't just improve quality of life measures in a cerebral way, it also does the physical body good.