Monday, December 18, 2006

Diversity as such, or race?

Robert VanBruggen, budding writer for National Interest, discovered in running a few correlations that while diversity (as calculated using the Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation index) and incarceration rates are meaningfully related in the developed world, murder rates are not. The wide variance by country in what lands one in jail renders criminality statistics based on incarceration rates unsatisfactory. Murder, which is unlikely to go unreported, serves as a decent proxy for the total violent crime rate in a country. So what he has apparently highlighted is that more ethnically and linguistically diverse nations are more likely to have harsher rules on social conduct than homogenuous ones are. Multiculturalism at work--differing social mores and lifestyle expectations mean less toleration of each of them for the sake of retaining cohesion at the expense of personal freedoms.

But a diversity index isn't an optimal measure of anything. I've tried creating a couple of my own diversity indices but they've consistently been far less predictive of conditions than simply looking at race. To understand why, consider San Diego, East St. Louis, and Leawood--by a measure of ethnic/racial diversity, San Diego will always come out as being the most diverse, while East St. Louis and Leawood will register as being similarly quite homogenuous. But in measures of social pathology, the homogenuous East St. Louis and Leawood will be at opposite ends of the spectrum, with San Diego bemusingly in the middle. If we just look at the percentage of the population in each city that is non-Hispanic white, things suddenly make a lot more sense. That East St. Louis and Leawood are both ethnically homogenuous is about the only thing the two have in common.

Attacking balkanization as a universal problem specific to say, London, carries less political risk than pointing out the poor performance of Central Asian Muslims there. How things are mixed does matter (creating feelings of resentment, etc), but the ingredients themselves are of paramount importance. I suspect the language your neighbor speaks has less to do with how likely he is to kill someone than who his ancestors were.

Unfortunately, most countries don't release demographic data broken down by race or ethnicity, so quantitative comparisons are much more difficult to make than they need be. Last year, I responded to the tendentious paper written by Gregory Paul claiming that America's religiosity was somehow the cause of its social pathologies compared to a secular Europe. Of course, the countries across the Atlantic do not have to deal with a population that is one-eighth black (and one-eighth Latin American Hispanic). By finding the frequency of behavior in whites in the US on the various measures Paul used (teen pregnancy, murder, etc) and pretending American blacks acted in the same way as American whites, I showed that the US would be in the thick of the European pack if not for its demographic disadvantages.

Robert didn't include the US in the numbers he ran due to its astronomically high incarceration rate of 738 per 100,000 with the next closest country a diminutive 193. But the non-Hispanic white US incarceration rate is only 230--higher than comparative developed nations due to tough sentencing especially with regards to drug use and possession, but not astonishingly so.


JSBolton said...

I tend to harp on diversity as such, not because it is a likely lead towards understanding poorly explained dysfunctions of society; but simply because it gets presented as an object of value in itself.
I find that claim, or implication, of our pro-diversity functionaries to be risible.
Actually, the nature of what sort of diversity one is championing, is exactly what must not be overlooked or equivocated away, so that the harmful diversity is concealed.

crush41 said...

I do the same, as an argument on mutually understood terms. But distinctions have to be made when necessary. The WSJ's op/ed board, for example, habitually uses the case study successes of a few anomalous and highly talented immigrants (the French world cup team) to argue for unfettered unskilled and third-world immigration.

JSBolton said...

There is a very strong and obviously deliberate pattern of that kind at the WSJ, which has been in place as long as I can remember.
Even if they were for only some, rather than for all politically possible immigration, and then some, their implicit dilemma is irrelevant and dishonest.
There is not a movement for outlawing all immigration, such that the good would be rejected along with the many bad and mildly bad.
Their propaganda pretends that we have only those two choices. What are the chances that they would apply the same reasoning to their letters to the editor publication?
If it is not obviously deceitful to say that their choices are only to admit all or accept none, how could they have found a way to pick and choose 'immigrants'i.e. letters to be published?

savage said...

jsbolton catches the WSJ in an act of blatant false argument. Such is the standard for the editorial board, which is so ideologically driven. It claims to be a rightist publication, but is an internationalist liberal one that is only rightist in not favoring explicitly certain groups, sticking only to the free-market individual. Its ideological outlook comes always from there.

Robert VerBruggen said...

Re-doing this comment to make it a little clearer...

I do agree that where diversity comes from, not just diversity itself, matters. I also agree that my results seem to indicate that diverse societies become more intolerant and incarcerate more.

However, I disagree that diversity measures nothing. If that were the case, how would it correlate significantly with incarceration? And while you agree with my explanation of a diversity-incarceration correlation, this post doesn't explain the lack of a diversity-murder correlation in advanced countries.

To me, that finding would indicate that (A) bringing minority races into advanced countries does not significantly drive up the murder rate and/or (B) the measure I used isn't precise enough to tease out the correlation.

crush41 said...

Not that a diversity index is meaningless, just that it is much less informative than a racial index, for the reasons I laid out above.

Unfortunately, diversity as a rough proxy for racial composition is about the best we can do in most of Europe. In the US, however, we can be considerably more precise.