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College vs. Babies

July 16th, 2009 · 11 Comments

Conor Friedersdorf finds serial plagiarist Ben Domenech stroking his chin over the pernicious collapse of values that’s causing moderns to delay marriage and reproduction. But sometimes, two charts are worth a thousand words of wankery.

8




Health > Total fertility rate
1
1

Education > Average years of schooling of adults

12


26




People > One person households
4
6

Education > Average years of schooling of adults

12

We’re spending longer in school before we enter the workforce, and we expect the kids we have to do the same, at substantial cost. Alternatively, this confirms the conservative thesis that book larnin’ corrupts. Your call.

Tags: Academia · Economics · Sociology


       

 

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Once Was Flanders (No, Not That Flanders) « Around The Sphere // Jul 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    […] Julian Sanchez with some charts: We’re spending longer in school before we enter the workforce, and we expect the kids we have to do the same, at substantial cost. Alternatively, this confirms the conservative thesis that book larnin’ corrupts. Your call. […]

  • 2 Dom // Jul 16, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    There is a lot wrong here.

    Is the line in the first graph supposed to be a line of best fit? If so, it is obviously off target.

    What is “average fertility rate”? Number of children per what?

    The x-axis in both charts are said to be averages. Are the dots the number of people per year?

    Worse, the graphs don’t even come close to supporting your conclusion. Nothing in the data indicates the time we spend in school before getting a job, nothing indicates that we expect the same from our children, and nothing even mentions the cost.

    It’s like you took two graphs at random, drew a stray line through them, and said anything at all about them.

  • 3 Maynard Handley // Jul 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Oh don’t be silly, Dom.

    He is pointing out the empirical fact, obvious from the data, that the way to a population of female baby factories that start early is to not educate the population; and so the obvious question is — is this what people like Ben Domenech want? Do they actually want the US to revert to a society with an average schooling of six years per person, and every woman having 7 children?

    And if not, then what the hell are they complaining about? If people are delaying marriage, so what? Conservatives go on and on about the glories of revealed preferences in every other aspect of life — why should we give a damn what their revealed preferences are wrt marriage?

  • 4 Bloix // Jul 16, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    But what is the data? Are the little white circles countries? Counties? what? And what are the black lines? Just lines that someone felt like drawing? These are awful graphs, really awful.

  • 5 fnook // Jul 16, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    “We’re spending longer in school before we enter the workforce, and we expect the kids we have to do the same, at substantial cost. Alternatively, this confirms the conservative thesis that book larnin’ corrupts. Your call.”

    I’ll take a predominantly (over) educated citizenry over a sentimentally ignorant citizenry any day of the week.

  • 6 Julian Sanchez // Jul 16, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    If you click on the dots, you’ll see that they’re countries. I assume anyone perplexed about the term “fertility rate” can google it easily enough. It’s true, I do not rely on the graph data for the observations that (1) college is expensive, that (2) more years of schooling generally entails delayed entry to the workforce, and (3) college graduates generally hope to send their children to college as well. I take those things to be pretty much self-evident. I’m not sure why that line in the first graph is off, but you can click through the links in the axis labels and get the full data from NationMaster.

  • 7 Matt B // Jul 17, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I know what fertility rate is, but what the hell is “Health greater than total fertility rate?” And what’s the scale for the tick marks? 1? 1/2? 1/4? Looks like both axes start at 1, which is dumb.

    It’s a crummy plot.

  • 8 Danny // Jul 17, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I think the > isn’t greater than. It’s a terrible representation, but maybe it’s an arrow or something. Essentially though it means “health” which is equivalent to “total fertility rate”.

    Bad labeling, good point.

  • 9 Dom // Jul 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

    “It’s a crummy plot.”

    Actually, it’s a new plot. The plots have been updated since we first complained about them. As Bloix pointed out, no one knew what the dots were. They have been changed to come up with country names.

    “…you can click through the links in the axis labels and get the full data from NationMaster.”

    Again, this feature was added after the initial complaints. They links were not there previously. And if you now click on the links what do you find? The strength of the correlation in the first plot (the one that has a best fit line with all data points on one side) is only 64%!! That’s it, folks, 64%!! The source of the data even calls this “potentially significant”. So is a coin toss.

    ” … what the hell is “Health greater than total fertility rate?”

    That’s not a greater than sign. It just means “Category Health; Subcategory Total Fertitlity Rate.” Sanchez copied it directly but without the context. Nice, huh?

    “… Looks like both axes start at 1, which is dumb.”

    It’s a logarthmic base 10. Sanchez left that out. And “Average years of schooling for Adults”? That’s age 15. Also left out.

    And the original data isn’t much better. Go to it and see what I mean. One plot gives a link to the data set, but when you click on it you go to the Egyptian god, Set. I’m not making this up. It’s interesting though. I found out that “Seth protected the sun (Ra) as he journeyed through the land of the dead during the night. Most notably, he fought and killed Apep, the evil serpent of darkness who attacked Ra each night.” More informative than this post.

  • 10 Goin’ to the chapel and we’re…undermining the traditional fa-amily « The Edge of the American West // Jul 18, 2009 at 10:53 am

    […] Sanchez counters with a pair of (sort of weird) graphs showing that the age of marriage and fertility rate tracks educational attainment reasonably well.  One of Sullivan’s readers points out that it’s damned expensive these days to live […]

  • 11 College vs. Babies | All For Newborns // Oct 6, 2009 at 2:02 am

    […] A smart blogger put an intriguing blog post on College vs. BabiesHere’s a quick excerptBabies. July 16th, 2009 · 2 Comments. Conor Friedersdorf finds serial plagiarist Ben Domenech stroking his chin over the pernicious collapse of values that’s causing moderns to delay marriage and reproduction. But sometimes, two charts … […]

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