Anglosphere comparisons

By Razib Khan | May 19, 2011 12:13 am

The most interesting chart below is infant mortality rate over time.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis
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Comments (32)

  1. Paul Ó Duḃṫaiġ

    From an Irish point of view the : “Merchandise trade (% of GDP)” is the most telling. The “Celtic Tiger” economy was a Export driven Economy. As you can see between 1992 and 2000 “Merchandise trade” went from 93% of GDP to 133% of GDP in 2000. The peak year when it came to growth been 1997 (Tech bubble connections) at 11.49% increase in GDP.

    It’s generally acknowledged here in Ireland that the “Celtic Tiger” era ended in 2000/2001 that graph nicely shows it. All growth after then was driven by the mother of all housing bubbles which was fuelled by membership of the Eurozone and interest rates designed for the German economy (in the doldrums at the time) that and reckless lending by Eurozone banks to equally reckless Irish banks.

  2. Roberto

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a psychological study on the perception of graphic representations? To me, two things come to mind when I look at these, not from the point of view of data representation, but from visual impact point of view.
    1) It’s a little irritating to keep searching for any particular country’s line when the line color changes from chart to chart.
    2) Scale means a lot. Our attention has been drawn to infant mortality rate. When we look at that graph when we ‘explore data’ and add a non-western country, South Africa, for example, we find that the automatic scaling feature squishes the data of the six countries here almost into a common line. Almost. This does not change the facts, only the perception of them.
    So psychologists, what can you tell us from this and our perception of data presented (aside from the obvious) and the representation or dissection of data in future studies?

  3. Net migration of… what? I’m not familiar with this term.

  4. Dave

    Do all the countries have the same criteria for infant mortality? I was surprised to learn (I think from the Skeptic’s Guide) that its different in the US than in other countries (eg a premature baby that lasts a few hours will count as infant mortality in the US, but other places its a stillbirth).

  5. Johanna

    You might want to fix your typo–I’m not sure what an infant morality rate would measure.

  6. iron0037

    I’m glad to see that infant MORALITY is highest in the United States :).

    Your description is a bit confusing on the preview since you get a graph of population instead of infant mortality.

  7. Robert

    Looks like the relatively worse infant mortality rate in the US is a function of the mass immigration into this country. A whole slew of statistics showing America’s inferiority to the Anglosphere and Northern Europe in terms of education, housing, health etc, disappear when you norm for race.

  8. Fraz Ismat

    The US infant mortality rate is such an outlier—how much of this is due to our population diversity, “economic diversity” (for lack of a better phrase), or manner in which infant mortality is measured? I understand that stillbirths are counted towards infant mortality in the US, but may not be in other countries.

  9. Chris T

    Rob – I’ve noticed that too. A substantial portion of the higher US infant mortality rate is caused by the African American rate being twice that of whites.

    Unfortunately, our national discourse treats it as a general problem rather than one specific to certain populations. Too many resources get misdirected addressing problems that aren’t actually there.

  10. The US infant mortality rate is such an outlier—how much of this is due to our population diversity, “economic diversity” (for lack of a better phrase), or manner in which infant mortality is measured? I understand that stillbirths are counted towards infant mortality in the US, but may not be in other countries.

    this is not too hard to find out. you might consider looking for it. as #9 notes, african americans are known to have higher infant morality.

  11. here’s infant mortality by ethnic group. it took me 5 seconds of google:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db09.htm

    probably not immigration. more immigrant origin groups have lower or same rates as non-hispanic whites.

    i predict that there’s going to be a huge gap between whites in appalachia and whites in new england too.

  12. To compare infant mortality internationally you need to added to still born and infant mortality and compare the totals.

    Also fertility treatments affect mortality internationally as does race. The lower the rate of multiple birth of a race the lower the infant mortality.

    Interestingly Hispanic Americans have lower infant mortality than American whites presumably because they have lower rate of multiple births and are less likely to get fertility treatments.

  13. Interestingly Hispanic Americans have lower infant mortality than American whites presumably because they have lower rate of multiple births and are less likely to get fertility treatments.

    interesting, is there social science on this? seems like it would be easy to get those variables. or are you making up the effect size on the fly as a hypothesis?

  14. Chris T

    Whites in the United States have a similar infant mortality rate to that of the European Union as a whole:

    http://www.indexmundi.com/european_union/infant_mortality_rate.html

  15. Here are some links on rates of multiple births by race
    http://multiples.about.com/od/funfacts/a/twinbirthrate.htm

    Twinning Rates by Race

    Twinning rates were essentially unchagned among the three largest racial/origin groups:

    Non-Hispanic White: 36.2 per 1,000
    Non-Hispanic Black: 36.8 per 1,000
    Hispanic: 22.2 per 1,000

    Impact of Fertility Treatments

    Assisted reproducive therapies (including in vitro, ovulation-inducing drugs and artificial insemination) account for 17 percent of all twins and 40 percent of all triplets born in 2007.

    17 percent of twins are the result of fertility treatments.
    40 percent of triplets are the result of fertility treatments.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.1963.tb04995.x/abstract?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+21+May+from+10-12+BST+for+monthly+maintenance
    http://convention3.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/2/2/7/2/p22727_index.html

    Here is a link on the problems of international comparisons of IM:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8141989

  16. thanks! much appreciated.

  17. Robert

    “i predict that there’s going to be a huge gap between whites in appalachia and whites in new england too.”

    A correct intuition. All the necessary data is in here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/mortality_tables.htm

    A quick back of the envelope (actually in my head) calculation shows that West Virginia accounts for something like 1.1% of the 2007 white infant deaths in the United States while only accounting for .9% or so of the white population so I would assume that it compares even more unfavorably to Connecticut taken alone.

  18. sourcreamus

    Does the net migration include illegal immigration. If it does it looks like the 1986 amnesty may have caused a huge jump in illegal immigration.

  19. Anthony

    From Wikipedia’s “infant mortality” article:

    … The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a live birth as any born human being who demonstrates independent signs of life, including breathing, voluntary muscle movement, or heartbeat. Many countries, however, including certain European states and Japan, only count as live births cases where an infant breathes at birth, which makes their reported IMR numbers somewhat lower and raises their rates of perinatal mortality.[5]

    The exclusion of any risk infants from the denominator or numerator in reported IMRs can be problematic for comparisons. Many countries, including the United States, Sweden or Germany, count an infant exhibiting any sign of life as alive, no matter the month of gestation or the size, but according to United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) researchers,[6] some other countries differ in these practices. … However, in 2009, the US CDC issued a report that stated that the American rates of infant mortality were affected by the United States’ high rates of premature babies compared to European countries. It also outlined the differences in reporting requirements between the United States and Europe, noting that France, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland do not report all live births of babies under 500 g and/or 22 weeks of gestation. …

    Another well-documented example also illustrates this problem. Until the 1990s, Russia and the Soviet Union did not count, as a live birth or as an infant death, extremely premature infants (less than 1,000 g, less than 28 weeks gestational age, or less than 35 cm in length) that were born alive (breathed, had a heartbeat, or exhibited voluntary muscle movement) but failed to survive for at least seven days. …

    Another challenge to comparability is the practice of counting frail or premature infants who die before the normal due date as miscarriages (spontaneous abortions) or those who die during or immediately after childbirth as stillborn. Therefore, the quality of a country’s documentation of perinatal mortality can matter greatly to the accuracy of its infant mortality statistics. This point is reinforced by the demographer Ansley Coale, who finds dubiously high ratios of reported stillbirths to infant deaths in Hong Kong and Japan in the first 24 hours after birth, a pattern that is consistent with the high recorded sex ratios at birth in those countries. It suggests not only that many female infants who die in the first 24 hours are misreported as stillbirths rather than infant deaths, but also that those countries do not follow WHO recommendations for the reporting of live births and infant deaths.

    So gross variations and long-term trend lines are meaningful, but the differences shown in the infant mortality graph above may be almost entirely artifacts of reporting methods.

    Also from the Wikipedia article: “Historically, infant mortality claimed a considerable percentage of children born, in the 1850s in America it was estimated to be as 216.8 per 1,000 for whites and 340.0 for African Americans “. Going from one-quarter of all infants to about one in 200 infants dying in their first year is pretty damn significant, even if the exact numbers are off by a factor of 10%.

  20. Ryan

    I find it frustrating when Americans blame some of their low social indicators (such as higher than expected infant mortality) on various kinds of racial or ethnic “diversity.” Sure, the US accepts a lot of immigrants in terms of absolute numbers, but not nearly as many per capita as Canada or Australia. Just eyeballing the chart, it looks like in 2010 Canada accepted about 20% as many immigrants as the US but had only 10% America’s population. Australia probably accepted even more people per capita. There are countries that manage much more diversity than the US (relative to their size), but have managed to keep many of their social indicators higher or on par.

    The point isn’t who is winning some kind of competition, but that the lazy thinking that leads people to conclude that higher diversity leads to worse outcomes is wrong. It might well be the case that were it not for diversity the US would score better on some social indicators, but that doesn’t mean that diversity *must* have this effect. Active and effective government policy matters a lot here, and can make all the difference.

  21. Just eyeballing the chart, it looks like in 2010 Canada accepted about 20% as many immigrants as the US but had only 10% America’s population. Australia probably accepted even more people per capita. There are countries that manage much more diversity than the US (relative to their size), but have managed to keep many of their social indicators higher or on par

    1) the original commenter was wrong on his facts (which he should have checked in 5 seconds before leaving a comment, as that’s what i would have done when seeing the correlation). i’m sorry your frustrated, but since the facts have been cleared, can we move on?

    2) the other anglosphere nations are not as diverse as the USA by *american* standards. when ameicans mean *diverse* they mean colored people, what canadians would term “visible minorities.” huge numbers of brits comign to australia would seem like “fake diversity” to americans, for whom colored blood is potent. the USA is ~2/3 non-hispanic white. 66% or so. all the other anglosphere nations would be “lily white” by american standards (new zealand comes closest, as they have an indigenous colored minority + lots of asians now).

  22. It might well be the case that were it not for diversity the US would score better on some social indicators, but that doesn’t mean that diversity *must* have this effect. Active and effective government policy matters a lot here, and can make all the difference.

    btw, which is why one should bring diversity up, you want to control for background effects. naturally people fixated on race because that’s what people really seem to care about, but the USA is big. you need to control for region too, as there’s a big gap between appalachian whites, or midwestern whites. the whole narrative of comparing the USA to canada, for example, is kind of stupid. but it happens all the time.

  23. Chris T

    It might well be the case that were it not for diversity the US would score better on some social indicators, but that doesn’t mean that diversity *must* have this effect. Active and effective government policy matters a lot here, and can make all the difference.

    In the United States, the fact that many health, economic, and educational indicators vary considerably by race is often overlooked. When discussions turn to solutions or causes, the issue is treated as a general problem. The fact that such a significant portion of the national average can be attributed to high infant mortality among blacks suggests a far different problem and potential solution set than one where the average is uniformly high across the entire population.

  24. also, i guess i should throw this out. i was interested in ireland infant mortality drop mostly in regards to my comment. u guys didn’t take that that way, but it’s all good.

  25. Paul Ó Duḃṫaiġ

    Razib,

    If you look at the figures for the drop you see that main drop is between 1960 and 1973 at which stage it had drop below the US. The reason I picked 1973 is that’s the year Ireland joined the EEC (EU). The 1960’s is often regarded as the “miracle decade” of the 20th century Ireland — before the Celtic Tiger era of 90’s. Government policy changed from been inward and protectionist to pushing for industrial development and a export driven economy.

    1961 is also the year that the Irish population finally stabilised after almost 120 years of constant decline since the Great Famine — population dropped 57% from 1841 to 1961

  26. Antonio

    Suggested reading on Infant mortality, 187 countries, 1970—2010:

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2960703-9/abstract

    Cheers.

  27. Ryan Canada has a very evil immigration policy of only accepting immigrants who are at the top of society and thus do need to emigrate from where they are.

    Also diversity in this context is a code word for blacks and Hispanics who under perform in certain areas. If you do not take he fact that blacks and Hispanics d poorly on some indicators into account you end up looking for what they do so different in North Dakota to do so well on social indicators and that would be silly.

    I know a silly way that we can beat the Europeans on all social indicators, that is let 100 million Chinese immigrants into the country.

  28. Robert

    “know a silly way that we can beat the Europeans on all social indicators, that is let 100 million Chinese immigrants into the country.”

    Implementation of that plan seems to be moving ahead with alacrity. Be careful what you wish for though. Immigrant Chinese are some of the most “racist” sumbitches on earth. They have absolutely no affinity for blacks and even the most casual observation reveals that they indeed shun them whenever and wherever possible. The intermarriage rate between blacks and Chinese is very low.

  29. Ian

    Speaking of changing demographics, New Zealand is interesting – went from 92% European in 1961 to somewhere 77% (counting both Europeans and “New Zealanders”). I wonder how much of that is real change, and how much is people re-classifying themselves as Maoris. (While the proportion of Maoris doubled in that interval, almost half of them listed another race in addition, so if that was white, those people should still be counted among the 77% white of whites.)

  30. Spike Gomes

    Ian:

    Your intuition is most likely correct, as it maps to what happened in Hawaii. Part-Hawaiians who could pass as white with Caucasian last names often did so. There’s a branch of my family that went that route from the 1920s to 1970s. Back then, there wasn’t much pluses to being Hawaiian in the urban enviroment of Honolulu. It could keep you out of the better neighborhoods and social clubs. Being that Northern European admixture was not the most common among lower class Hawaiians (more common was Chinese and/or “plantation” Southern European admixture, and admixed Hawaiians of noble descent had land claims tied into their Hawaiianess), I doubt much people took full advantage of it. New Zealand with nearly all Maori having some sort of Caucasian admixture probably took full advantage of it if they could. Nowadays the arrow has turned and it’s more profitable to identify as a member of the minority group, as well as renewed cultural pride in the heritage.

  31. ackbark

    The Google Public Data Explorer is a fantastic thing I’ve never seen before.

    On the Net Migration chart, if you click on Afghanistan it says 1,000,000 people moved there in 2010!

    Presumably moving back from a refugee situation in Pakistan, but even so that seems like a lot and I don’t think I’ve seen that statistic much advertized.

    Does it speak to US success at stabilizing the place, a lot of people feeling that the US leaving is now foreseeable, or is it that circumstances in Pakistan are becoming less friendly?

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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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