Friday, January 14, 2005
- China's Deficit of Women Increasing Despite Economic Gains: "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Relative Female Income on Sex Imbalance," by MIT grad student Nancy Qian, examines the paradoxical finding that China's 'female deficit' is actually increasing, not decreasing, with greater economic prosperity:
Many Asian populations are characterized by highly imbalanced sex ratios. For example, in 2002, only 48.4% of the populations of India and China are female in comparison with 50.1% in western Europe. Amartya Sen (1990, 1992) coined the expression "missing women" to refer to the observed female "deficit" in comparing sex ratios of developing countries with sex ratios of rich countries. An estimated 30-70 million women are "missing" from India and China alone.But, beware the post hoc, ergo proper hoc fallacy: is the rising gender gap truly a consequence of increasing wealth, or are some other factors causing correlation?
This phenomenon is almost certainly due to behavioral factors that reflect a preference for male children (selective abortion, infanticide and/or neglect). In the long run, male-biased sex ratios can benefit women by increasing their price in the marriage market (Angrist, 2002; Samuelson, 1985). A more immediate concern, however, is that to select the sex of the child, parents without access to pre-natal gender revealing technologies must resort to infanticide or other forms of neglect which ultimately lead to the death of a child.
Economists, beginning with Becker (1981), have long argued that sex imbalance responds to economic conditions. The negative cross-country correlation between income and sex imbalance corroborates this argument. However, the sex imbalance within China is increasing, not decreasing, despite rapid economic growth. [read full article, PDF file]
- "The Lethal Effects of Three Strikes Laws" [Journal of Legal Studies, January 2001 - Researchers Thomas Marvell and Carlisle Moody (among others) have evidence to show that many states' tough "Three Strikes" laws are actually increasing - not decreasing - the number of homicides:
"...when committing an ordinarily nonlethal felony, a criminal might kill victims and others at the crime scene in order to reduce the chances that they will overpower or identify the criminal. Everything else being the same, when the penalties for a crime and for an exacerbated version of that crime are similar, the criminal can be expected to commit the exacerbated version if that reduces the chances of apprehension and conviction." [read full article, PDF file]
- Is graying hair an unintended consequence of tough talk?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush says he now sees that tough talk can have an "unintended consequence." During a round-table interview with reporters from 14 newspapers, the president, who not long ago declined to identify any mistakes he'd made during his first term, expressed misgivings for two of his most famous expressions: "Bring 'em on," in reference to Iraqis attacking U.S. troops, and his vow to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."Then again, Bill Clinton might have a thing or two to say about gray hair...seems like the last president to use hair dye was Ronald Reagan?
"Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean," Bush said Thursday. "'Bring 'em on' is the classic example, when I was really trying to rally the troops and make it clear to them that I fully understood, you know, what a great job they were doing. And those words had an unintended consequence. It kind of, some interpreted it to be defiance in the face of danger. That certainly wasn't the case." On other points, Bush said:
- He wants Congress to approve major changes in the Social Security program before the end of May. Many Democrats and some Republicans in Congress oppose Bush's proposal, which may entail steep reductions in future benefits.
- Baseball's new policy for steroids and other drugs is "a very strict policy and I want to congratulate both parties."
- Four years as president have changed him. "They say my hair is grayer. But I come from a pretty white-haired gene pool. At least half of it."