August 1, 2009

Table of contents for data-rich blog

Table of contents for data-rich blog

1. Climate and civilization among Blacks. I look at how climate affects IQ, imprisonment rates, and college degree-earning rates among Blacks, using state-level data. This is a follow-up to a similar post I wrote about Whites.

2. Was there a decline in formality during the 20th C? Here, I look at data on changes in naming preferences that question the widespread view that we've "become less formal."

3. Are the arts in decline? I've dug up annual data on theater attendance and the number of playing weeks for both Broadway and road shows from 1955 to 2006. I discuss the overall trend, the notable departures from the trend, and how in-synch or out-of-synch the Broadway and road show data have been over time.

Brief: Science knowledge across the lifespan. I use GSS data to construct a 13-question quiz of basic math and science knowledge, and see how well people do on it at different ages. Do people learn more and more, does their knowledge atrophy from lack of use, or does it pretty much stay put once it's in there during your required schooling?

4. Class and religious fundamentalism in red and blue states. Using the GSS, I find the relationship between two measures of fundamentalist religious beliefs and four measures of social class, once for blue states and again for red states. Are fundamentalist beliefs more a function of social class or regional culture?

5. Intelligence and patronizing the arts in red and blue states. Similar to entry 4, but now looking at four measures of going out to arts performances. Same question as before: is having an artsy leisure life more influenced by IQ or by regional culture?

Brief: Do Asians consume boat loads of carbohydrates? In order to see whether Asians consume lots of rice or carbs in general, as many believe, I look at USDA international data on grain consumption per capita for India, Indonesia, South Africa, Iran, Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Australia, Hungary, Canada, and the U.S. I've broken down each country's consumption by grain in two tables, as well as make a graph of total grain consumption per capita for an easy comparison. Grains studied include barley, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat.

6. The rate of invention from 0 to 2008 A.D. I've found a book with 1001 world-changing inventions, and I've transcribed the dates and plotted the number of inventions over time, by century, half-century, decade, year, and a 10-year moving average of the yearly data. I've written before about the slowing pace of innovation since Bell Labs and the DoD were broken up in the mid-1980s, using a dataset of 100 modern inventions, so this allows for an independent test of that claim. (And the new post obviously gives a clearer picture since there are 10 times as many data-points.) It also puts recent trends in larger historical perspective. I discuss some plausible genetic and institutional causes for the rise of invention. There is not only a trend that stretches across centuries, but an apparent cycle on the order of human generations.

7. The changing social climate of young people from 1870 to present. I quantitatively search through the archives of the Harvard Crimson (the undergrad newspaper) to see how the zeitgeist has changed over time. Young people typically leave very little written record, let alone over such a long stretch of time, so this presents a uniquely fine-grained picture of the social forces they faced. The topics include identity politics (with five topics and a composite index), religion (also five topics and a composite), and generational awareness. There are some things that everyone knew, but there are quite a few surprises, such as when the obsession with racism or sexism peaks. There are large swings up and down over time, supporting a cyclical view of history. I discuss what kinds of processes or models are necessary to explain such patterns.

Brief: Relationship anger by political views for men and women. The stereotype is that liberal women are more combative and temperamental in relationships, compared to the more docile and even-headed conservative women. I look at the GSS and see if it's true. I look at the same question for men to see if the pattern is different.

Brief: Have we gotten more or less sympathetic since Adam Smith's time? Here I look at the NYT's coverage of Japan and Indonesia over the past 30 years to see if it is driven more by sympathy for their plight or fear about the threat they pose to us. This tests Adam Smith's claim that we care more about nearby disasters than faraway ones -- and so, whether things have changed much since his day. By splitting sympathy into two components, I argue that the data show we've become more sympathetic in one way, but have stayed the same in another.

8. Youthful exuberance: Age and the housing bubble. Here I investigate the basis for the string of stories we heard about 4 years ago about the increasing number of 20-somethings who refused to grow up and were more and more living at home through their adult years. I use homeownership data broken apart by age group to see how the age distribution of homeowners has changed since 1982, how the homeownership rate has changed for the the various age groups -- especially the very youngest group (under 25) that the stories were talking about -- and how the changes in homeownership rates during the housing bubble compare when we look at different demographic groups. For example, did under-25 people enjoy a larger jump than Hispanics or single mothers? This provides a useful way to compare the trends among age groups.

Brief: When did elite whites start obsessing over blacks? I search the Harvard Crimson archives for "negro" to see when African-Americans started to enter the consciousness of elite whites, and at what speed it increases afterward. This allows me to test whether whites were complacent / ignorant before the Civil Rights movement, as one popular view has it, and were woken up by the events of the 1950s and later.

9. Has the free market been taken too seriously or not seriously enough? Paul Krugman recently claimed that one reason economists failed to predict the current crisis is that they weren't sufficiently skeptical of the market to bring about desirable outcomes. I search the econ journals in JSTOR for various phrases relating to market failure -- asymmetric information, adverse selection, network externalities, and irrational exuberance -- to see whether or not market skeptics have gotten a lot or a little attention over the past 30 to 40 years. To put things in context, I also compare the popularity in each year of these new ideas to the popularity of standard economic concepts like supply and demand.

10. What predicts income dissatisfaction? I use GSS data to test the idea that the higher your status, the more dissatisfied you'll be with your income. For example, it could be that people's expectations of their livelihood rise faster than their income. I show how income dissatisfaction changes according to income, class identification, job prestige, intelligence, education, age, race, and sex. Surprisingly, the sex difference is the largest of all.

11. How are religiosity and teen pregnancy related? States with higher religiosity scores also have higher teen pregnancy rates, but does this pattern reflect individual-level patterns or not? I use the GSS to see whether age at first birth predicts greater religiosity -- that is, if the state-level pattern is just an individual-level pattern writ large -- or if teen mothers are less religious, so that their state's greater religiosity is just a response to their reckless behavior. Using three measures of religious beliefs and three measures of religious practice, I find evidence of both forces at work.

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