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There was a discussion about the average age of marriage for males and for females on a forum that I frequent and decided to see how they differed in terms of the age gap between the two genders.

The long-term trend is towards convergence but stabilizing at the male being 1.5 years older.

Using ACS data that is easily available on the Census website for 2010, I was curious to see the composition of wealthy Hispanic households by national origin.

Mexican households are somewhere around 65% to 70% of all Hispanic households but the overall composition tilts to the other national groups as you filter through higher and higher income levels.  The general heuristic is that slightly less than half of wealthy Hispanics are Mexican, about a quarter are Cuban/Puero Rican and another quarter is Central American/South American.

I noticed I had a plethora of data regarding fertility and female illiteracy. These two variables are highly correlated with one another. In fact female literacy correlates more strongly than general literacy. The issue here is that men’s literacy starts to go up at an earlier date than female literacy.

As you poke around the data, the interesting thing you notice that the numbers go all over the map for female literacy, the Muslims/Hindus don’t consistently top one another. But outside of Madhya Pradesh, Muslims have consistently higher TFR’s than the Hindus do.

Sources: International Institute for Population Sciences, National Family Health Survey 1998-1999, ORC, Macro, WorldBank Dataset


The table appears small, here is a link to the table.

These next two tables show rank differences by state.

I subtracted (Muslim – Hindu) for both variables.

The higher the number, the greater the disparity is in the Hindu’s favor for the first chart, it is measuring illiteracy. A lower number indicates a Muslim edge.

This is literally measuring how many more kids Muslims have than Hindus. Ranging from as high as 3.2 to zero.

Islam tends to have a pro-natalist effect, even in that states where Muslim women have lower illteracy rates, they have higher fertility rates than Hindu women.

From the GSS, tracking turnout in the 2008 election by educational attainment. The overall partisan affect of this turnout pattern hurts the Democrats.

The partisan makeup of “partisan” Democrats and “partisan” Republicans as based on GSS data and defined as people who self-identified as “strong” in their leanings. I also restricted it to solely White voters just in case of race skewing or biasing the data.

Untitled Italian Sonnet

In the fourteenth century, the poems addressed to “Laura” by the Italian poet Petrarch became so popular they helped spread the chivalric code across Europe and introduced the world to the sonnet, a fourteen line poem with a very specific metrical and rhyme pattern. The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet is written in iambic pentameter and has two sections: an octave that is rhymed abba, abba, and a sestet that has three rhymes which may vary in their sequence, e.g. cde, cde; or cdd, cee; or cdc, ede, etc. 

This sonnet, again, like one of my previous poems is about a difficult time in my life that engulfed my life for several months. Poetry is an interesting means of “letting it out” so to speak.

The chaotic house is falling apart
It changed beyond our basic recognition
It was an emotional admission
Once upon a time we thought you were smart
Everybody wanted a clean fresh start
Destroyed potential, wasted ambition
We all wanted an easy transition
Once more we were left with a broken heart
We all crave a blissful conclusion
A blind hope that you could one day be good
It is likely to be an allusion
Now a chance that you’ll end up in the hood
With now haunting black holes of confusion
Your desires for freedom, understood

I was rearranging my closet and bookshelf and I dusted off a notebook that I ended up using for from Econ 142. I found a particularly cool problem that I encountered back than, that I will reproduce here.

In the game Former Soviet Union Roulette, a number of bullets are loaded into a revolver with six chambers; an individual then points the revolver at his head, pulls the trigger, and is killed if and only if the revolver goes off. Assume the individual must play this game; that he is an expected-utility maximizer; and that each chamber is equally likely to be in firing position, so if the number of bullets is b his probability of being killed is b/6. Suppose further that the maximum amount he is willing to pay to have one bullet removed from a gun initially containing only one bullet is $x, and the maximum amount he is willing to pay to have one bullet removed from a gun initially containing 4 bullets is $y, where x and y are both finite. Finally, suppose that he prefers more money to less and that he prefers life (even after paying $x or $y) to death. Let UD denote his von Neumann-Morgenstern utility when dead, which is assumed to be independent of how much he paid (as suggested by empirical studies of the demand for money); and let UA0, UAx, and UAy denote his von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities when alive after paying $0, $x, or $y respectively.

  1. What restrictions are placed on UD, UA0, UAx, and UAy by the assumption that he prefers more money to less when alive?
  2. What restrictions are placed on UD, UA0, UAx, and UAy by the assumption that he prefers life (even after paying $x or $y) to death?
  3. Is it possible to tell from the information given above whether x > y for an expected utility maximizer? Does it matter whether he is risk-averse? Explain.

First things first, lets just write down what we know.

  • Expected Utility maximizer.
  • Probably concave utility function where second derivative is negative.
  • Homo Economicus
  • b/6, b= bullets, each additional bullet adds like a ~16% chance of being killed
  • He is willing to pay an amount $x to have a bullet removed from a gun that only has one bullet. Essentially letting him live.
  • He is willing to pay an amount $y to have a bullet removed from a gun that has 4 bullets.
  • More $ > Less $ is his preference.
  • Life > Death is also his preference.
  • UD is independent of payment.

Utility functions defined:

  • UD = Utility of being dead
  • UA0 = Utility of being alive and paying $0
  • UAx = Utility of being alive and paying $x
  • UAy = Utility of being alive and paying $y

Scaling of utilities gives us

  • U(a1) = 0
  • U(a2) = U(a3) = U(a4) = 1/3
  • U(a5) = U(a6) = U(a7) = 2/3
  • U(a8) = 1

1.) Using the last two bits of information allows us to solve the first part.  UA0 > UAy and UAx > UD

2.) UA0, UAy, UAx > UD
3.) For the last question we have

  • EU($x) = UD*(1/6)+EUAx*(5/6)
  • EU(Nothing) = UD*(1/6)+UA0*(5/6)
  • EU(Removing Bullet at Cost $x) = UAx
  • EU(Nothing) = UD*(1/6)+ UA0*(5/6)
  • EU(Removing Bullet at Cost $y) = UD*3/6 + UAy*(3/6)
  • U’ > more money, happier, life over death, UA0 > UAx ~ UAy > UD

Setting up a system of equations for this situation yields us

1/6*UD + 5/6 UA0 = UAx
3/6UD + 3/6*Ay = 4/6*UD + 2/6UA0
+ 3/6*Ay = 1/6*UD + 2/6UA0

Bottom equation falls out since it can be rearranged to look like the second one.

1/6*UD + 5/6 UA0 = UAx
3/6UD + 3/6*Ay = 4/6*UD + 2/6UA0

Solving yields us:

UA0 = 2UAx – UAy
UA0 = UAx   + Uax – UAy (this is positive)
So UAx > UAy

Addendum
This paper attempts to reconcile the Russian Roulette problem to Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory.

http://lishu.psych.ac.cn/doc/A%20closer%20look%20at%20the%20Russian%20roulette%20problem%202009.pdf

Utilizing the Russian roulette problem as an exemplar, Kahneman and Tversky (1979) developed a weighting function p to explain that the Allais Paradox arises because people behave so as to maximize overall value rather than expected utility (EU). Following the way that ‘‘overweighting of small probabilities” originated from the Russian roulette problem, this research measured individuals’ willingness to pay (WTP) as well as their happiness for a reduction of the probability of death, and examined whether the observed figures were compatible with the nonlinearity of the weighting function. Data analysis revealed that the nonlinear properties estimated by straight measures differed from those derived from preferential choices [D. Kahneman, A. Tversky, Prospect theory: an analysis of decision under risk, Econometrica 47 (1979) 263–291] and formulated by [A. Tversky, D. Kahneman, Advances in prospect theory: Cumulative representation of uncertainty, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5 (1992) 297–323]. The controversies and questions to the proposed properties of the decision weight were discussed. An attempt was made to draw the research attention from which function was being maximized to whether people behave as if they were trying to maximize some generalized expectation.

Lost At Sea in Fresno

Lost At Sea in Fresno by Jim Geddes

The rusty old white van pulled into our drivway
The cult emerged with my sister
They could have been from Mars
For all I knew

My sister opened our house door
I’m leaving for Fresno
Little did I know she was leaving for good
I watched from our driveway

Watched our family torn apart
on that smooth concrete in 1970
my sister swallowed up in the van
that backed out and went north

My sister who backed out
of each of our lives
hoping to land in a better place
was lost at sea in Fresno