Fertility by non-Hispanic white ethnic group, etc.

By Razib Khan | September 2, 2010 11:14 am

In my post on American fertility rates by racial group Mike Keesey asks: ‘It’d also be interesting to see what’s going on within “non-Hispanic whites”.’ One can explore this question in the GSS. Let’s look at ancestry group (e.g., German, French, etc.), religion, belief in God, political ideology, intelligence and education, for non-Hispanic whites. The data is limited to the 2000s, and I also constrained to those age 45 and up. Then I looked at the “CHILDS” variable, which asks the respondent how many children they have. Taking the mean of this value gives us a sense of the rank order in fertility. Note that this is not total fertility rate. That should be clear from the values being well above 2 in most cases. Additionally, I recombined some categories, so that “British” is the amalgamation of English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry. The “Irish” class almost certainly includes both Scotch-Irish (doing the regional and religious breakdown this seems obvious), and the Irish without modifiers. For intelligence I used “WORDSUM”. The variables I input into the GSS can be found at the bottom of the post so you can replicate.

Mean # of children N
Ancestry
German 2.47 911
French 2.43 169
Nordic 2.22 277
Irish 2.36 759
Italian 2.18 311
British 2.26 1033
Intelligence
Low intelligence 2.45 287
Average intelligence 2.39 1153
Above average intelligence 2.19 709
Highest educational attainment
Less than high school 2.93 720
High school 2.37 2970
Junior college 2.25 412
Bachelor 2.03 952
Graduate 1.93 687
Political ideology
Liberal 1.99 954
Moderate 2.37 1690
Conservative 2.43 1855
Religious preference
Protestant 2.39 3355
Catholic 2.53 1342
Jewish 1.83 155
No religion 1.78 639

I believe much of the difference among white non-Hispanics by ancestry is caused by other variables. In particular, the low values for Italians is probably a function of their disproportionately urban residence patterns in comparison to German Americans. Other white ethnic groups (the sample sizes were smaller for these constraints) with a strong urban bias show the same pattern.

To replicate, go to http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08.

Under “Analysis” at the top left select “Comparison of Means.”

Dependent: CHILDS

Row: WORDSUM(r:0-4″Low intelligence”;5-7″Average intelligence”;8-10″Above average intelligence”) DEGREE GOD(r:1-2″Atheist and Agnostic”;3″Higher Power”;4-6″Believe in God”) polviews(r:1-3″Liberal”;4″Moderate”;5-7″Conservative”) RELIG ETHNIC(r:2,11″German”;3,10″French”;7,9,19,26″Nordic”;14″Irish”;15″Italian”;8,24″British”)

German = Germany + Austria
French = France + French Canadian
Nordic = Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland
British = Scottish, English and Welsh

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis, GSS
  • Pingback: Which American racial group has the lowest fertility? | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine()

  • Antonio

    I never understood why white “hispanics” are discriminate from the analysis that include all other whites….surely they are non-puritan whites but so are many of the others included under the label (truly?) whites. Who knows America and its, to me, obsession with racial classification.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_and_Latino_Americans#Terminology

    in any case, within mexican americans the 50% who identify as white don’t seem that socially different from the 50% who identify as non-white, looking at the GSS (texan mexican americans are more likely to say they’re white than california mexican americans, though that’s part differences in the culture of the two groups). for affirmative action purposes i think it’s bureaucratically easy to not make a distinction.

  • Antonio

    Thank you for your response. “or affirmative action purposes i think it’s bureaucratically easy to not make a distinction.” I understand but what about for research purposes? Also, this bureaucratic definitions are not neutral in terms of their consequences for the assimilation of these people. I am sorry to be insistent but as a foreigner it just sound weird to me: a group should either white or non-white

    What about the variance across white groups in US? . To my understanding, European’s life styles are unrelated to US’s, doesn’t matter if the they from the south or north or east or west of Europe. From my trips to London even British people behaves different from American. So my point is that those European people had to be at least partially socialized to become (sort of) puritan whites – even though some are still not . However, it seems to me that the way US consider and classify white hispanics will make it very difficult for them to became white, in ethinic terms.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    antonio, i’m an anti-multiculturalist conservative who opposes affirmative action and doesn’t have a typical american concern with “diversity.” so there you have it. i don’t know empirically if it halts assimilation or not. i do get a sense, and there’s some scholarship to indicate, that the construction of a unitary identity has produced solidarity across the various hispanic/latino groups, and a tendency for anglos to view them as interchangeable. puerto ricans and cubans for example have solidarity with other latino americans in regards to immigration even though the standard rules don’t apply to them.

    I am sorry to be insistent but as a foreigner it just sound weird to me: a group should either white or non-white

    i find that a little weird cuz you’re brazilian ;-) i’ve met brazilians who identify as white who probably wouldn’t be classified as such in the USA cuz of our acceptance of african hypodescent.

  • benj

    Interesting than American Jews are the religious group with the lowest fertility rate while Israeli Jews are the Western/developed population with the highest fertility rate in the world and rising !
    I once asked an Israeli demographics professor about it – she told me that was the $1 million question for them.

  • Antonio

    How do you know I am from Brazil ? :)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    you’re not as anonymous on the internet as you think :-) you’re home town is rio, that’s in brazil, right?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Interesting than American Jews are the religious group with the lowest fertility rate while Israeli Jews are the Western/developed population with the highest fertility rate in the world and rising !
    I once asked an Israeli demographics professor about it – she told me that was the $1 million question for them.

    in the 18th and early 19th century jews had a reputation for fertility. that changed. similarly, christians in the ottoman empire had higher fertility in the 19th century.

  • Explanation for Antonio

    “Hispanic” is a foggy classification that overlaps with “white” but is not entirely inside it. To the extent that this “ethnic” distinction is genetic, it cannot be overcome. “Hispanics” in U.S. America are not necessarily “white,” meaning they mostly have a significant amount of non-European (Amerindian or sometimes African) ancestry.

    Hispanic mestizos with a significant amount of non-white ancestry generally cannot “become white.” This may be mainly because their non-European ancestry is usually visible. One cannot say the same of other non-Puritan immigrant groups. “White” actually means something. And it also means something in foreign countries, from my experience, although apparently not your foreign country?

  • Explanation

    Also, I felt a little silly in that post because I suspect Antonio already knew that stuff but fashionably disagreed.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    in the “explanation for explanation” category i think you kind of misunderstood antonio. as a point of fact he doesn’t look any less european than you do, for example, but he’s implicitly classified as non-white in the USA, as “white hispanic” is almost an asterisk.* if you guys flipped names the categorization would switch (there are plenty of people from his nation who look just like you “explanation,” as i’m sure you know).

    it all seems kind of weird to foreigners.

  • Antonio

    Most “white” Brazilians that I know of don’t identify themselves as white here. Some do. It makes sense, since the US definitions of white, if applied to Brazil, means that just a fraction of the whites there will be whites here. Actually, lots of “white” people in Brazil have a pretty good sense they are not truly white – i.e they have strong non-white ancestry – but some define themselves as white anyway given the looseness in which the term is used there. Anyway, I can be totally wrong but since I arrived here I have being impressed by the US obsession with racial classification. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of discrimination don’t there but less so along racial lines, I think.

    Well, according to US definitions, I am not sure if I am a etinnic or racial Brazilian :)

    I don’t play soccer, I don’t listen to Brazilian music and I truly HATE hot whether: I just can’t stand the weather in Rio and I suffered immensely over the summer (except when I was in some beautiful beach, which was rare).

    I am French and Portuguese descended from mother and French, Portuguese and German from father. I look white (check my facebook pictures :) ) , in US sense of the term and I don’t think I have non-white ancestry, not even from the middle east. In US, when I don’t tell my name I am generally German, sometimes Russian, French and Sweden. When I say my name I became Italian, from the north. I assuming that north Italy is the most white place that some can be named Antonio, according to US imaginary.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Anyway, I can be totally wrong but since I arrived here I have being impressed by the US obsession with racial classification. Don’t get me wrong,

    $ e.g., asian indians wanted to be classified as asian american to get minority small business loans in 1980. the consequence of this has been an asian american category which includes south asians, but there’s a lot of ambivalence from east asians about this. if brazil keeps elaborating its embryonic affirmative action programs you’ll get more of that in your neck of the woods. last i checked the income gap between self-identified brazil whites and blacks was much greater than between the groups in the USA.

  • Antonio

    Hi Explanation for Antonio,

    Well, white means something but the use of term is wider than here ( and thus less informative). A black in US can be white or mulato in Brazil, rarely white. Even if a black person call himself or herself white nobody will believe much anyway. Anyway, racial discrimination is a serious crime there so that people just avoid ask racial classification from other people. However, don’t think that people cannot discriminate among whites: they now very well who is whiter than whom and actually they predict quite well who pass as white in US. By the way is easier for Brazilian look white in Europe than here.

    I knew some of it but like I said I am confused here. I think in US there is a very strict definition of white. Sometimes people say that white is an ethinicity (how do I spell that?). But I am a little suspicious of the use of a racial category to indicate an ethinic group – but of course I could be totally wrong. And, yes, I’m a big fan of they way things are handle in this area here ( which doesn’t mean that Brazil is automatically much better).

  • Jenita

    I love the General Social Survey (GSS as noted above)!!!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    . I think in US there is a very strict definition of white.

    yes, this is true. in the end it’s about “privilege.” though before 1960 the privilege was viewed as a positive, and now it’s a matter of injustice.

  • Antonio

    “last i checked the income gap between self-identified brazil whites and blacks was much greater than between the groups in the USA”.

    Are you comparing comparable things? Like I said and you agreed, white in Brazil is different than here. As a thought experiment, let’s think we can classify white Brazilian in the US terms (perhaps using genetics). Then many “non-whites” will have a quite good social positions.

    Also remember that less than 10 % of Brazilian classify themselves as white, around 45 and mulatos and the rest mostly white. In US terms black and mulatos are just blacks, full stop. Among the Brazilian whites 50 % or more have significant non-white ancestry. So that cannot be white in US. The remaning 25 % of so of the population is still lots of people ( Brazil probably has more “truly” whites than Scandinavia!) , and they will better off than the rest. But my point is that we should compare comparable things.

  • Explanation

    That’s an interesting point, Razib. But I wonder, who would classify him as “Hispanic,” even if technically he is. It seems to me at this stage in the U.S., Antonio, that you would only be “Hispanic” if you want to be. I’m not really in tune with what Americans generally think about the word anymore. So it would be hard for me to say what perceptions are or whether they are changing. I guess that’s why we have surveys!

    I’m pretty that sure that most Americans think of “white” or other racial categories in a way that corresponds closely to actual ancestry and genetics. Maybe that’s your “strict definition.” “Hispanic” is a different matter. But again, I may be out of touch.

    Antonio, when you say “here,” are you always talking about Brazil? It seems surprising that it would be easier for a Brazilian to look white in Europe than in Brazil. And when you say “rarely white” in the first paragraph, do you mean the person’s actual ancestry as opposed to what people say?

  • Antonio

    “in the end it’s about “privilege.” though before 1960 the privilege was viewed as a positive, and now it’s a matter of injustice.”

    Sorry to ask a personal question but, hypothetically, would you classify yourself as non-white with you could classify yourself as white instead? I suspect many people don’t. Sometimes, it looks to me that those affirmative actions are just increasing discrimination: nobody say anything, because they don’t want to suited, but they think that this non-white guy is there just because he got extra help, not because he deserved. Yet, it might be beneficial in the long run….who knows.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    antonio, my source for the data:

    http://www.amazon.com/Race-Another-America-Significance-Brazil/dp/0691127921/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283457072&sr=8-1

    the book argues that in terms of income self-classified blacks and browns are one cluster, and self-classified whites are another. i am aware of the genetics of brazil. if you haven’t, check this out:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/06/amerindians-of-brazil-more-numerous-than-you-think/

    It seems surprising that it would be easier for a Brazilian to look white in Europe than in Brazil.

    blacks of predominantly european ancestry, such has jason kidd of the NBA, have been assumed to be white in europe. americans are more punctilious about the power of black ancestry i suspect. jade goode would be ‘black’ in the USA i think, and probably accused of self-hate if she didn’t identify as such, but from what i am to understand her mixed background was accepted in the UK

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Goody

    p.s. brazilians are latino, not hispanic :-) just to be a nerd.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    would you classify yourself as non-white with you could classify yourself as white instead

    unless i bleached my skin there’s just no way i could be white. unlike many middle easterners and latin americans my non-white identity is obligate, not facultative. in any case, in the USA white ~ european ancestry. operationally pure european ancestry. so even the south asians who can pass, and there are some from the northwest of the subcontinent, as white, probably wouldn’t because it confuses the fact that they’re not european.

  • Antonio

    I am in US right now. I just classify myself as white, not “hispanic” or “latino”. I would like to classify myself as non-puritan white but you don’t have this box yet :)

    My father in the 1960’s and my grandfather in the 40’s were classified here as white (and “strongly discouraged” to talk to non-whites, which sounded racist and surprised to them). I can’t be hispanic, however that means and I don’t consider myself “latino” as those people who call themselves latinos are not really my group (nor, on average, look like me).

    My wife here in LA looks like Persian but in Italy she is italian ( to the point of some people get mad at her because she just can answer them in Italian all the time!) In Germany or Sweden she is European from the south of Europe, not non-european. I can pass as native in almost all countries in Europe, from Iceland to Russia to Spain. They just think I was born there and talk to me in their language. I guess because I am a mixture of whites I became I really neutral, without any strong traits from any population.

    So because most brazilians white came from the south of europe in that continent they are just european. Here because most of the south european blood came from Latin America these phenotypes are confused.

  • Antonio

    Nice conversation! Congratulations for your blog Razib!!!

  • http://3lbmonkeybrain.blogspot.com/ Mike Keesey

    That was indeed interesting. Thanks for taking the time to look into that.

  • Explanation

    And Razib, your perceptual powers in blog comment conversations are frightening. Love your blog :) You make knowledge-gathering much more convenient!

  • SV

    Is there enough data available to similarly break out the fertility for different “Asian American” ethnic groups? Or at least to seperate South and East Asians (and maybe Southeast Asians as well)?

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  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    SV, in the GSS sample size is too small. you can find it elsewhere. chinese, japanese, koreans and indian americans are both below replacement. i believe that the higher asian american fertility is largely due to laotians (hmong) and cambodians. the hmong used to have TFRs around 7 or so in the 80s, though transition is occurring now.

  • Corvinus

    Razib Khan, thanks for your interesting statistics. A couple of things:

    Firstly, the Asian and Hispanic fertility reported by the CDC is likely too high because there are more of those groups’ people in the USA than the Census Bureau thinks. The exact same thing happened after the 2000 Census, when the Bureau found 6 million more minorities in the USA than it expected, and the CDC had to revise the fertility rates of all groups except non-Hispanic whites down to a greater or lesser degree (Hispanics, Asians, and Amerindians the most, blacks somewhat less, Anglo whites barely at all).

    Secondly, I was actually surprised by the Catholic birth rate, since the faith has been hemorrhaging members wholesale since Vatican II, and the Catholic countries in Europe (except Ireland) all have demographically suicidal birth rates. (I’m Catholic myself, btw.) Perhaps this hemorrhaging has left the more hard-core old-Latin-Mass members behind who have more kids. (Also, an aside: it would appear that white Catholics are becoming “blonder”, given that German, French, and Irish in the US seem to be significantly outpacing Italians in their birth rates; too bad the table doesn’t include Poles and other Slavs.)

  • Katharine

    Interesting than American Jews are the religious group with the lowest fertility rate while Israeli Jews are the Western/developed population with the highest fertility rate in the world and rising !
    I once asked an Israeli demographics professor about it – she told me that was the $1 million question for them.

    in the 18th and early 19th century jews had a reputation for fertility. that changed. similarly, christians in the ottoman empire had higher fertility in the 19th century.

    I wonder if this has much to do with the fact that 1) Israel’s economy is sort of crap, from what I’ve heard and 2) the presence of a large ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Secondly, I was actually surprised by the Catholic birth rate,

    remember that these were people who were 45 years or older between 2000 and 2008. so a slightly older cohort, so it would reflect somewhat higher fertility i suspect.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com Lab Lemming

    Are Mormons grouped in with protestants, or not included?

  • Latifundiário

    We could call all people from the English speaking American countries like Guyana, Jamaica, United States, Canada, Barbados as Brittonics just to make a comparison with the Spanish speaking Hispanics !
    In the Brazilian Ancien Régime even a Black Catholic was considered socially superior to any Protestant, Jew, or Muslim. There’s no racist laws in aristocratic atmospheres, only in egalitarian societies there’s institutionalized racism. I think the undistinct mass of immigrants in the United States invented the term “white” because they had not a proper nationality and a proper social status quo. The so called “white trash” needed the Jim Crow laws in the US and the miserable Boers needed apartheid in SA.
    Anthony Knivet, the first Englishman who left his memoirs in Brazil, was shipwrecked, captured and enslaved by the Portuguese in 1591. At that time no Englishman was in what you call North America. So I guess he was not considered “white” then !
    http://balagan.org.uk/war/new-world/brazil/timeline.htm

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Are Mormons grouped in with protestants, or not included?

    it’s unclear.

    There’s no racist laws in aristocratic atmospheres, only in egalitarian societies there’s institutionalized racism.

    this is a caricature, though based on a real difference. it’s more accurate to say that in aristocratic societies there are different grades of distinction, of race, class, religion, etc. it is also accurate to say that ostensibly egalitarian anglo societies were far more racially conscious than the aristocratic ones.

  • Antonio

    Latifundiário! Você mora nos States? Um abraço, Antonio.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    INGLÊS FALA!

    :-)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    and antonio, not if the IP is correct.

  • Antonio

    Parabéns pelo blogue Razib. Eu estudo estatística e ciência politica no UCLA (PhD) e por conta do seu blogue estou pensando em algum projeto de pesquisa que envolva genética e política. I’m not sure about anything yet as I’m still writing my dissertation prospectus in the field of health politics. But I am really curious about whether politics can actually change the genetic composition of the population as, for instance, in the case of the development of modern state in Europe. Really cool stuff but I am still digressing!

  • Antonio

    OK. I got it :)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    he’s in brazil.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    antonio, economics? you might want to check out

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691141282/geneexpressio-20/

  • Antonio

    Thanks for the reference, I haven’t read this book yet but I did read an article from this guy about this topic. It seems that he uses surnames as a proxy for genetic transmission (Y cromosome). Yet, since I haven’t read the book itself I have no idea about how strong is his research design. I will read it soon. I also found this project at Peter Frost web page:

    http://pages.globetrotter.net/peter_frost61z/curriculumvitae.htm

    see item 3. I looks cool but it seems that, as of yet, it is just a project.

  • Anthony

    Antonio –

    My mother is Colombian, but her ancestry is ultimately entirely European. My father is Greek. In the U.S., socially, I’m white. I have black hair, brown eyes, and tan better than most whites, but I’m still white.

    Except. Legally, I may call myself “hispanic”, and claim affirmative action benefits. I did not do so when applying to college, and it’s mostly been irrelevant since then, since I don’t own a company. But if my grades or test scores were somewhat lower, or if I went into business as an independent consultant, it might be worth something.

    Also – on construction sites in California – more so when I was somewhat younger and out in the sun more – the Mexican laborers would address me in Spanish before I said anything.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Also – on construction sites in California – more so when I was somewhat younger and out in the sun more – the Mexican laborers would address me in Spanish before I said anything.

    don’t feel so special :-) happens to middle eastern and south asian ppl all the time. in high school i worked at a supermarket and sometimes mexican customers would start talking to me in spanish. one old dude berated me for not being in touch with my “heritage” in pretty good english after i indicated i didn’t know spanish. i think the combination of the type of work i was doing + my appearance made their guess OK from a bayesian perspective.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    btw, in my circles, i’ve encountered so many instances of “oh, i didn’t know you were latino” where a person had a mother who was from latin america, or of latin american origin, but not a father. the identity has been made as relevant to someone’s perspective, ostensibly, as being black or a conservative christian, even if the relevance is imposed on people from outside (e.g., a friend whose father is jewish and mother is mexican was labelled a “conservative latino writer,” to which he took some objection since he didn’t identify as latino but more as jewish). perhaps people should have their pedigrees on their identification cards like in some nations?

  • Antonio

    Yeah, my experience is different: I am never addressed in Spanish. I am mostly confused as a German but when I say that my name is Antonio, I became northern Italian. Your description fits pretty well what I was trying to say that the Europeans are MUCH more flexible (and correct) in their definition of white than people here. From your description your are white, and you will be recognized as such right away in Europe. But here, because white is just associated with specific types, you are not. I know some people in Italy, Spain and France that would be non-white here based on their phenotype. That severely strict definition of white, along with an obsession with classification cause me an impression a very very impression of this country, at least in racial matters. But I digress…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    antonio, i feel in some ways the USA has shifted from white hegemony to sensitivity toward non-whites, but the general analytical framework hasn’t changed much. the “narrow church” view of whiteness in the USA has old roots. here’s benjamin franlkin:
    Which leads me to one remark: That the number of purely white people in the world is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawney. And in Europe the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only being excepted, who with the English make up the principal body of white people on the face of the earth. I could wish their numbers increased. While we are scouring our planet by clearing America of woods, and so making our side of the planet reflect a brighter light to the inhabitants of Mars or Venus, why should we in the sight of superior beings darken its people? Why increase the sons of Africa by planting them in America, where we have an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawneys, of increasing the lovely white and red.”

  • Antonio

    When people said to me “Oh I did’t blah blah” and start asking me about samba, etc I generally reply: hey man, an not your Latino friend, maybe a Russian in a bad mood!” :)

  • Antonio

    I never saw nothing like this before…but maybe I am just ignorant….

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    franlkin was an extremist and a bit out there. but there was a growing acceptance in 19th century america that only german-speaking peoples passed the racial snuff as true white people (e.g., who knew that there was prejudice against french miners in california because they were perceived to be latin?). americans are no longer racist in that way, but i think there’s a tacit acceptance of this model still, insofar as the measure of whiteness is still anglo-german. kind of like hypodescent, which was originally a tool of white supremacy and eventually grounded in the “law of reversion,” whereby inferior atavistic black genes dominant over superior white genes, but now is promoted by black leaders as a way to buttress their community’s numbers and accepted by other americans. i.e., we have a black president, even if he’s half white genetically, and grew up in his white grandparents’ house.

  • Antonio

    Also, I would like to hear more about the hypothesis that “igualitariam” societies are more racist than aristocratic one. Any references?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan
  • Antonio

    Well, I am not blue eyed and no longer blonde ( I was born with almost white hair but it changed over time). I am surprise can I fit German stereotypes. Maybe facial traits and the fact that I am more or less tall and somewhat strong/fat? Who knows?

  • Marnie

    Guys, it’s even more confusing than you think.

    I’m a whitie, very fair skinned with blue eyes, but with dark brown hair.

    In Canada, everybody can look at me right away and tell that I’m of Scots or English ancestry. (Most Scots immigrated to Canada, while the Irish mostly immigrated to the American eastern seaboard).

    Here in California, people can’t tell where I’m from. I’ve been asked if I am “mixed race” and, if they haven’t heard me speak, have even been told to “go home”.

    People develop paradigms of race which depend on the people they are used to looking at. If you don’t fit into one of them, many people feel compelled to fit you in somewhere.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    old nazi-era joke: “Aryan type: blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels.”

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    People develop paradigms of race which depend on the people they are used to looking at. If you don’t fit into one of them, many people feel compelled to fit you in somewhere.

    *nod* my friend henry harpending has stated that bushmen classify the vietnamese with themselves, as opposed to whites and bantu blacks.

  • Antonio

    I should add that I never experienced ANY discrimination, even with my VERY strong accent.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    if you’re white, it’s all right, if you’re brown, don’t stick around :-)

    (local conditions matter a lot, i experienced some pretty obvious racism in italy, more than i’ve ever experienced in my life, and i grew up in a very conservative white area of the intermontane west. but italy is being swarmed by brown street vendors right now. no prejudice in finland)

  • Marnie

    “I was born with almost white hair but it changed over time.”

    That’s interesting. I think that must be very uncommon in Western Europe, but I’ve often run into it in people from Greece and Turkey.

  • Marnie

    btw, the person who asked me if I was “mixed race” was from Singapore. She asked me out of curiosity, not in a mean way. It was kind of a revelation to me that blue eyes and brown hair look “mixed race” to some people. In a way she was right, as it is likely a product of an R1b/R1a mix up in people from the British Isles.

    Sorry for snooping on your conversation.

    Have a nice evening.

  • Antonio

    After our today long conversation I can resist tell you guys this: I am just back from the supermarket. There the blond, blue eyed cashier, out of the blue, asked me:”are you russian” and I replied “no” and the guy “where are you from sir ” and me “you guess” then he said “sweden” and me “no” then he tried again “germany” I said no and finally I told him “Brazil” he didn’t believe.

    I am curious about how these stereotypes are formed.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    “THERE ARE IDIOTS. Look around.” :-)

  • Antonio

    Well, I think that hair change is very common in US. Most white kids are blond but very few adults. Less true for women but they artificially change their hair :)

  • Antonio

    But there is a pattern in the stupidity, at least regarding my case.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ah, that’s called a “heuristic & bias” then :-)

  • benj

    @Katharine
    “I wonder if this has much to do with the fact that 1) Israel’s economy is sort of crap, from what I’ve heard and 2) the presence of a large ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.”

    1. You heard wrong. Israel’s economy has some problems but is close to the EU average for GDP per capita. In fact in the last decade it had been growing steadily and was one of the countries less affected by the economic crisis. In the same decade, the fertility of Jews has risen from 2.6 to 2.9 (and is 3.2 for Jews born in Israel so it will continue to rise).
    2. Yes. Ultra-Orthodox have the highest fertility rate and secular the lowest. But in the last decade the ultra-orthodox rate decreased and the secular one increased. And this does not explain why the secular fertility rate is around 2.3-2.4 when the average in Europe is 1.5 (and probably slightly lower if we take only the secular Europeans) and the average of US Jews is also around 1.5.

  • http://www.latif.blogspot.com Zachary Latif

    My uncle married a Dominican in Westchester, New York. Their social circle are Dominstanis or Pakiminicans and its a fairly common combo since some Pakistan med students had studied in the Dominican republic.

    Anyway I was reading through the thread about Razib’s comments on Hispanic identity. I remember a Doministani girl was telling her Dominican mom that her friend wasn’t black but Dominican.

    I had heard it in passing but I found it hilarious at the time. After that the girl, who was black for all intent and purposes, was “Dominican”.

    I really find Hispanics somewhat similar to South Asian; in the concept of browness or Desiness. Forgive the vast generalisation everyone aspires to be fair and lovely (as white as they can be really) to emulate ancient or medieval conquerors. At the same time there is this intangible concept of desiness or “Hispanicness”, which means whatever your colour or culture you belong, even if the subcultural differences are huge and vast.

    Could it do with the linguistic area; South Asia is pretty much Hinglish dominated whereas Latin America is Spanish/Portuguese (my Columbian colleague speaks to Portuguese clients according to him its something you can pick up).

    Just my thoughts; race is a funny concept, very few hard and fast rules in it.

  • http://www.latif.blogspot.com Zachary Latif

    Another thing caught a DS9 episode last night.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sight_(Star_Trek:_Deep_Space_Nine)

    Captain Sisko has a love interest; I was certain the whole episode she was Indian (picture in the link).

    Turned out half African American and half Italian American. Usually I find in mixed-race union children tend to look more like the race of their father (even accounting for obvious genetic dominance).

    Anyway my point being in Hollywood its very rare to see a black/white romantic relationship (Will Smith’s famous statements in Hitch that the female lead Eva Mendes was the only acceptable counterbalance for a black lead) but other “people of color” can do.

    Its really very strange. One thing about the West is that it is the first society to consciously delve into color consciousness; most “people of colour” back home are extraordinarily sensitive to gradations of skin tone. Malcolm Gladwell in his last book Outliers has a moving paragraph about Jamaican society’s attitude to Creoles. It was only discrimination in England which made his Creole mother she was and would remain black.

  • Ian

    I find Trinidadian paradigms of race most interesting. Many people will not only put you into a category (Indian, Black, Mixed, White, Chinese, Syrian, “Spanish” and Carib being the applicable ones) but they will also often try to assign people to ‘parts’. I remember meeting a Jamaican sociologist some years ago. My first thought when I saw him was ‘Chinese…no, Spanish’. I commented on that to him, and he said that was typically Trinidadian…in Jamaica he was just a ‘red man’ (red = light-skinned, usually near-white African-European mix), like his ‘red’ Jamaican father. A Trini, on the other hand, would notice his skin colour, but also the features he inherited from his mother, a half Chinese-half Spanish Trinidadian.

    I also found it interesting the way my cousins were perceived in Trinidad versus Jamaica. Their mother is Indian, their father Chinese-African-Carib-French-English (iirc). In Trinidad, as children, one was likely to be taken for Indian (straight hair, darker skin, relatively straight features) while the other ‘dougla’ (mixed Indian and black) on account of her curlier hair. In Jamaica it was reversed – she was Indian (because Jamaican Indians are often a little mixed while he was Chinese, on account of his very straight hair).

  • JL

    “I was born with almost white hair but it changed over time.”

    That’s interesting. I think that must be very uncommon in Western Europe, but I’ve often run into it in people from Greece and Turkey.

    No, in Northern Europe, at least, it’s the rule: the majority of children have blond hair, while the majority of adults have brown hair. To a lesser extent, that must be the case in Europe in general.

  • Antonio

    Maybe I was adopted and I am a real Nordic :)

  • Corvinus

    Marnie said:

    btw, the person who asked me if I was “mixed race” was from Singapore. She asked me out of curiosity, not in a mean way. It was kind of a revelation to me that blue eyes and brown hair look “mixed race” to some people. In a way she was right, as it is likely a product of an R1b/R1a mix up in people from the British Isles.

    Sorry for snooping on your conversation.

    Have a nice evening.

    When I was living in Minnesota, a little boy at the church I attended once asked me, “why is your hair so dark?” and it hit me that just about everybody there was blond, and just about the only time they would have seen dark-brown hair would be on a non-European person. I’m of mainly British Isles ancestry (I identify as Irish American but I’m only about half that) and I’ve heard that having nearly-black hair with light eyes is associated with this ancestry, and Minnesota seems to be among the least British states in the country.

  • Marnie

    Yeah, a stealth Nordic!

    Ian, your comments on Trinidad cracked me up. You’d need a flow chart to keep up with it all.

    It reminded me of an article I came across a while back about the experiences of an African American women, Adia Whitaker, in Ghana (West Africa). It was so funny, I saved it.

    Here’s some of what she had to say:

    “I found their constructs of “black” and “white” completely different than the ones in the US. In Ghana, because my skin was not dark brown, I was considered white. Well, not white-white, but a version of it. One man at an internet cafe said to me, “Well we are confused because we can’t tell sometimes the difference between a black American and a white American. It seems as though you all have the ability to turn yourselves white if you want to. Beyonce?””

    “My gender was also questioned frequently, because I don’t wear earrings. At first, my hair was cut into a fade and then I shaved it bald because it was causing me too much trouble. In my mind, I thought Africa would be the perfect place to grow it out. No pressure to look like a rock star and all that. Big mistake. Big, big mistake.”

    “Nowhere in that did I anticipate the level to which my physical appearance would cause such disruption in the daily lives of Ghanaians. They really, absolutely needed to know whether I was a boy or a girl to continue any interaction with me. At home, I’m this exotic, bald headed, queen honey bee. In Ghana, I was this sick, skinny dog walking down the road that would confuse people and cause hysteria.”

  • Marnie

    “I’ve heard that having nearly-black hair with light eyes is associated with this ancestry.”

    Yep, it’s very common, especially in Scotland and Ireland. Also, because of traditional patterns of immigration, you see more brown hair + blue eyes in Canada than you do in the states.

    There’s a long history in England of people who claim that they are of Anglo-Saxon decent scurrying around with concern about black haired Celts.

    From the Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:

    Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
    And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
    He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
    Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

  • Antonio

    racism is an endless history. :(

  • Latifundiário

    Antonio

    Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of the United States, South Africa, and Brazil
    Anthony Marx

    http://books.google.com.br/books?id=ad7QVJN70AIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Making+Race+and+Nation:+A+Comparison+of+the+United+States,+South+Africa&hl=pt-BR&ei=wXKBTKXsN4SClAexxIGsDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Antonio
    Eu trabalho muito com genética e história política
    Você tem uma idéia interessante para um projeto de pesquisa.
    Entre em contato
    guararapes1648@gmail.com

    Abraço

  • James

    “And in Europe the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion”

    I have just returned from a two- month visit to Sweden. Swedes swarthy? They have more yellowish skin than the average Brit but I wouldn’t say swarthy. Then again, I was staying near Svarte which my wife told me means ‘darkie’.

  • Corvinus

    James said:

    “And in Europe the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion”

    I have just returned from a two- month visit to Sweden. Swedes swarthy? They have more yellowish skin than the average Brit but I wouldn’t say swarthy. Then again, I was staying near Svarte which my wife told me means ‘darkie’.

    Haha, Svarte and “swarthy” are the same word, obviously. ;) But Ben Franklin, I believe, said the same thing about continental Europeans, even Swedes, so it would seem that British Islanders are the palest people in the world, even if we don’t have the highest incidence of blond hair. (We do have the highest rate of red hair, though.) Perhaps it’s because the British Isles are cloudy, getting the first rains off the Atlantic, while the continentals have a somewhat drier, sunnier climate, and thereby haven’t lost their ability to tan.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    franklin was being a biased dumbass. let’s call a spade a spade. i simply offered it up as an example of the weird framework which i think still has an influence on anglo-american conceptions of whiteness, no matter our particular race.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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