January 19, 2014

NYT: Science proves Americans are still sexist

Economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writes in the New York Times:
This [Google search] methodology can also be used to study gender preference before birth. Every year, Americans make hundreds of thousands of searches asking how to conceive a child of a particular sex. In searches with the words “how to conceive,” Americans are slightly more likely to include the word “boy” than “girl.” Among the subset of Americans Googling for specific gender conception strategies, there is about a 10 percent preference for boys compared with girls. 
This boy preference is surprising for two reasons. First, the top websites returned for these queries are overwhelmingly geared toward women, suggesting that women are most often making gender conception searches. Yet in surveys, women express a slight preference for having girls, not boys; men say they prefer sons. Second, many Americans are willing to admit a gender preference to even out a family. About 5 percent more boys are born than girls in the United States, so evening out a family would more often require having a girl, not a boy. Are men searching for conception advice in large numbers? Are women searching on their husbands’ behalf? Or do some American women have a son preference that they are not comfortable admitting to surveys? 
Other countries exhibit very large preferences in favor of boys. In India, for each search asking how to conceive a girl, there are three-and-a-half asking how to conceive a boy. With such an overwhelming preference for boys, it is not surprising that there are millions fewer women in India than population scientists would predict. 
Clearly there is more to learn. 

Here's something more that wouldn't be hard to learn: just looking at this graph above, it's pretty obvious that the small male preference in Google searches in America for information about how to conceive a son is being driven by Asians in the United States, especially South Asians (the same is likely true of Canada). In contrast, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand have more searches for how to conceive girls.

For collateral evidence, just do a Google search on "sex-selective abortions."
Because this data make it easy to compare different countries over time, for example, we might examine whether these gender preferences change after a woman is elected to run a country.
Hillary 2016!

Last year, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank tut-tutted at a white Republican Congressman for noticing. Milbank wrote:
Republican’s abortion bill risks alienating Asian Americans  
Republicans long ago lost African American voters. They are well on their way to losing Latinos. And if Trent Franks prevails, they may lose Asian Americans, too. 
The Arizona Republican’s latest antiabortion salvo to be taken up by the House had a benign name — the Prenatal Non­discrimination Act — and a premise with which just about everybody agrees: that a woman shouldn’t abort a fetus simply because she wants to have a boy rather than a girl.  
The problem with Franks’s proposal is that it’s not entirely clear there is a problem. Sex-selection abortion is a huge tragedy in parts of Asia, but to the extent it’s happening in this country, it’s mostly among Asian immigrants.   ...
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Franks didn’t dispute that Asian Americans would be targeted. “The real target in the Asian community here is the Asian women who are being coerced into aborting little girls,” he told me, adding: “When the left doesn’t want to make abortion the issue, they say you’re being against minorities.”   
Franks is a principled and consistent opponent of abortion, but his strategy has raised eyebrows before because of its racial component.


Anonymous said...

How to conceive a lesbian president?

astorian said...

India has already had a female Prime Minister and that made no difference in Indians ' preference for sons.

agnostic said...

Asians are a smaller fraction of America than Britain. "Asians" (i.e. South Asians) in England and Wales are nearly 8%. Yet their google searches are more girl-oriented.

Blacks don't have a greater pref for baby boys than whites do -- seems like a bit less. Black females are more productive than black males, have greater social mobility, and are more likely to help out with family.

"Other races" are also where whites and blacks are, so that presumably includes Hispanics, who would make up most of that group.

Reg Cæsar said...

… where English is spoken…

Lazy bastards. I want to know the numbers worldwide.

That said, this list is even more concentrated than it looks. South Asians outnumber all Arabs, citizen and alien, in the UAE, and Wikipedia lists "other languages" as English, Persian, Hindi and Urdu.

Are Pakis and their brethren in India the only Moslems with a strong sex preference? I haven't noticed it among Arabs or others. As rough as Islam looks to be toward women, they seem to be willing to take whatever Allah chooses to give them. Indeed, in places like Indonesia and Somalia, where the (young) women are particularly pleasant and attractive, there may even be a preference for girls.

And wouldn't a falling fertility rate intensify sex preference? With two kids, you have a one-in-four chance of not getting the one sex you want. With five kids, it's 1-in-32. (So the Romneys and the Clinton-Bush-Obamas are in opposing 3% tails of the curve-- five of the same sex.)

Anonymous said...

We know that PC makes you stupid but the witless tone of this economist isnt stupidity, its blatant deceit.

Anonymous said...

According to your logic, shouldn't the UK with its large south Asian population (Pakistan!) show up way higher?

Reg Cæsar said...

India has already had a female Prime Minister and that made no difference in Indians ' preference for sons. --Astorian [This one? Or this one?]

We don't know that. It may have intensified. After all, India and Pakistan were among the first major countries to elect female leaders.

David M. said...

If it's South Asians in the U.S. and Canada that are driving the preference for sons, why wouldn't there be an even larger effect in Britain?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't fit the data. Britain is about 7 percent Asian, almost all of whom are South Asian, whereas the US is about 5% Asian, most of whom are less sex-selective East Asians.

Canada is 15% Asian with slightly more East/Southeast Asians than South/West Asians, and Australia is 12% Asian. And now that I'm looking at it, even New Zealand is 12% Asian.

There really doesn't seem to be any pattern to it, but there's also a lot of statistical noise in these national internet search analyses.

My main problem with the article was this section-

"...do some American women have a son preference that they are not comfortable admitting to surveys?"

Obviously, the people making this kind of search are not going to be a representative sample of the nation as a whole. Maybe the real question is, what is the demographic profile of the women making these searches?

Bert said...

English is not widely spoken in Pakistan. It may be an official language, but almost all regular folks speak their local language.

Harry Baldwin said...

In a related story, America still racist says twice-elected president Barack Obama:

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama said in the article by David Remnick, appearing in the [New Yorker’s] Jan. 27 edition.

“Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president,” Obama said in his most direct comments on how race has affected his political standing since he’s been in office.

Some black folks like him because he's black? Some, as in 95 percent? "Maybe" some white folks like him for the same reason? I'll bet there are a lot more whites who like Obama largely because he's black than there are who dislike him for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Can we call thinking America is more Asian than it is "The Californian's Fallacy"? Though I suppose the upper-middle class nationwide would be prone to the same.

I for one welcome our future quarter-Asian, quarter-Jewish, quarter-Catholic, quarter-Wasp overlords. They're going to be a very capable bunch- smart, civic-minded, not prone to agitating over identity politics (at least of the ethnoracial sort- and I assume World Wars G, T, and whatever else will have been won by the time they come into power).

Anonymous said...

There are more indicative -and effective- tools than Google queries, like abortion of female foetuses.

These news are repeated all over Europe, blaming "UK" of course, and scolding preventively other European countries.

For some reason, the reference to some ethnic groups has been omitted.

Anonymous said...

"Republicans long ago lost African-American voters. They are well on their way to losing Latino voters. And they may now lose Asian-Americans as well."


How can you lose something you never had?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 1/19/14, 6:47 PM, Republicans did in fact have some minority groups back before George W Bush came into office.

Most Muslim Americans voted Republican before 9/11 for the very same reasons why fundie Christians vote Republican: pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-traditional family values.

Reagan did better with Asians than with Whites. Asians went for George HW Bush twice. The only time when an absolute majority of Asians voted Democrat was in 2004.

Two things contributed to Republicans losing minority votes: 9/11 and George W Bush. And only George W Bush can be blamed on the Republican party.

TGGP said...

Do Australia & Britain really have fewer asians to skew their results?

Anonymous said...

"How can you lose something you never had?" - blacks once upon a time voted republican, when, on issues blacks care about, the republicans acted like democrats today, and the democrats acted like republicans.

Anonymous said...

"Two things contributed to Republicans losing minority votes: 9/11 and George W Bush. And only George W Bush can be blamed on the Republican party." - Ultimately regression to mean would have pulled those groups into the democrat sphere in any event, so I wouldn't be too broken up about it.

C. Van Carter said...

Why is nobody googling how to conceive a trans it is transphobic we still have a long way to go.

Ali said...

Per the 2011 UK census, Indians are 2.5% of the population, Pakistanis 2.0%, Bangladeshis 0.8%. Chinese are 0.7% and Other Asians make up the difference to reach 7.5%.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Alienating aliens is no way to go

Anonymous said...

I expect the future will be the ultimate wiener festival, aided by the likes of John McCain who wants to import tens of millions of horny Third World males.

Felix said...

This economist should talk to a psychologist. He'd learn tat folks often give the "right" answer if asked explicitly but actually do or think the opposite.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of internet users in Pakistan, India and the like are male? I'd guess a much higher proportion than are in the Western countries. That will definitely skew the results (men searching for how to have boys, women searching for how to have girls)