Friday, October 30, 2015

The "Baby Penalty" is Shrinking for Educated White Women

This is a good tool to figure out the baby penalty in long-term wages for women with various characteristics.

The big news of this research is that the gap between mothers and childless women has been shrinking, especially for educated white women.

The reasons are mysterious.  I think, as educated women's marriage rates go up, younger married couples are investing more in her career than was true in previous generations.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

China Drops The One-Child Policy

The draconian one-child policy did reduce the population growth rate in China dramatically.  They went from having a population bomb to a birth dearth.

The expectable consequence of the old policy is that they will not have enough workers to maintain their cheap-labor economic growth.  They will also not have enough young workers to support their rapidly aging population.

The unexpected effect of the policy was that by limiting the number of children per couple to one, without changing the cultural preference for boys, they produced a massive sex imbalance - now about 119 boys born for every 100 girls.

For these reasons, China has officially dropped the policy.  However, many middle-class Chinese have already culturally adjusted to sub-replacement family size, just like families in developed nations. Culture, and the cost of middle-class life, may keep the one-child effect going.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Treating "Everyone as an Individual" is Impossible in a World Full of Strangers.

Students sometimes think that they should avoid using stereotypes in sizing up strangers.  This comes from an admirable desire not to misjudge people. They believe that if they just treat everyone as an individual, they can avoid ever making group generalizations.

Yet we cannot meet all strangers as individuals.  We encounter them as members of groups. It would be impossible to treat each person we meet with full individuality.

I offer, instead, that we should seek to meet groups with the most accurate group generalizations.  AND that we should remember Rule #1 of Sociology (according to me): We make generalizations about groups which do not necessarily apply to each member of the group.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Good News: The Deforestation Rate Has Been Cut in Half

The rate of deforestation has been cut in half since the 1990s.  The forests are still shrinking, but at a slower rate.

In the temperate zone, forests seem to be actually rebounding.

One unexpected fruit of the collapse of the Soviet Union is that the clear-cut forests on collective farms are now growing back since the farms were privatized again.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Fascinating Moment from "The Jinx"

This is not the usual topic of The Gruntled Center, but I did want to commend the documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."  The series, which ran earlier this year, shows interviews with rich oddball Durst after he was suspected in several murders, and tried for one.

The series famously ended with a scene of Durst, confronted with very damning evidence, denying culpability on camera.  He then went into the adjacent bathroom, with his microphone still live. He has a conversation with himself in which he seem to be admitting that the jig is up.

What struck me most about that conversation was that he sounded like Gollum.  Late in "The Lord of the Rings," the tormented Smeagol/Gollum has a conversation with himself between what increasingly seem like two distinct personalities.  Durst did not sound like that, but he did seem to have some part of his "presentation of self" that was being conducted by a personality that stood at a cold remove from the face he normally presented to the world.

Really fascinating.