Friday, January 08, 2016

Having a big family makes your children either badly behaved or low achievers at school, study claims

The academic article underlying the popular report below is "The Quantity-Quality Trade-off and the Formation of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills". In my usual pesky way, I have had a look at it

I don't have the time to look in great detail at this quite  complex study so I will content myself with a couple of basic observations.  For a start, the finding is unusual.  Other studies have found no effect of family size.

The problem, if there is one, appears to be an artifact of social class, though the authors are not allowed to mention that naughty word, of course.  The effect seems mostly found among the poor, who are also less bright and who are also more likely to have big families.

And here's the tricky bit: Mention of poverty in America immediately calls to mind the naughtiest word of all: race.  Did  the authors control for race?  Would the effect drop to insignificance if you looked at whites only?  The Abstract of their current paper does not mention that word. But here's the kicker.  There is also online what appears to be a preprint of the paper.  And that DOES mention the word.  And they DID find that race had a big effect.  The effect of family size was primarily seen among persons of sub-Saharan African ancestry ("blacks" in non-academic language).

And the effects overall were not large.  The word "IQ" is another word that may not be mentioned in polite circles.  It is too easily understood.  But their statistics can be translated into IQ.  And the result is that we are looking at only about an IQ change of 1.5 IQ points.  So the whole thing hardly matters anyway.

The takeaway is that in most families parents can have as many children as they like without concern about dumbing their kids down

Finally: I don't like to do this but I feel that I must place this study in the context of the current uproar in psychology about the high rate of unreplicable results and the associated topic of research ethics. It is now clear that many scientists do not tell the full truth about their research results -- for various reasons. 

In that context, any concealment of findings calls into question the integrity of the research and the integrity of its authors.  And since scientific communication depends heavily on trust, any attempt at concealment of findings -- as we see in the published abstract of this study -- strongly suggests that the work was not honestly reported and should therefore be disregarded.  I am not being cynical in saying that the abstract IS the article for most readers of  academic journal articles.  Only specialists in that field plough through the whole thing

In the circumstances it is open for one to conclude that the real findings concerned blacks only but that was too unpalatable ("politically incorrect") to publish.  So that problem was "worked around" in one or more ways

A new study has found that for every additional child born, the others are more likely to suffer poor cognitive abilities and behavioural problems afterwards.

Boys were more likely to misbehave while girls saw their performance in maths and reading skills dip.

Using data from 1986 to 2012 taken by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and by the Children and Young Adult Survey, three economists analysed how older siblings performed before and after a younger sibling was born.

They looked at the number and timing of births into a family and matched these to various mental and behavioural traits.

Levels of parental engagement were also crucial - with factors like how often families eat meals together, one-on-one time with each child, affection and the safety of the home also affecting how a child performed.

As families got bigger, the time spent with each child reduced, which has been linked to worse outcomes for children, they found.

'Our fixed effect estimates indicate that the arrival of a younger sibling reduces measures of parental investment as well as cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of older children by approximately one-tenth of a standard deviation,' the research paper said.

The study was conducted by economists Chinhui Juhn, Yona Rubinstein, and C. Andrew Zuppann, who questioned whether the 'quantity' of children would effect the 'quality' of their upbringing. 

It discovered that parental investment in older kids fell by 3 percentile points after a young child is born, while cognitive scores fell by 2.8 percentile points and behavioural problems increased.

'We have documented a significant trade-off between quantity and quality of children for NLSY mothers and their children. 'On average, children in larger families have lowered parental investment and worse cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. '

Other factors found to influence the outcomes was the mother's intelligence and economic well-being.

Mothers were asked to take the Armed Force Qualification Test (AFQT), used by the military to assess skills including reading and reasoning.

Those who scored badly saw a larger drop in cognitive scores when they had their second child.


Air Force Athletes Can Pray Before Game

After the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sparked a review when it challenged the right for football players on the Air Force Academy’s football team to publically pray before games, the Academy found that yes, the cadets do have the right to drop to one knee and pray.

In a statement just before Christmas, Academy officials said, “The United States Air Force Academy will continue to reaffirm to cadets that all Airmen are free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all. The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.”

At the beginning of December, the foundation whose goal is to strip expressions of Christianity it deems too politically powerful from the U.S. military, complained about some of the player’s pre-game ritual. This is an admirable move, coming from the organization that a few years ago tried to alter the Air Force Academy Officer Oaths to strip the mention of God from them.

But what is discouraging is that the academy has to consider the question on whether or not a group of football players have the right to express their faith just because they wear a second uniform.


Yemeni Cleric: Jews Are 'Most Despicable, Base, Vile, and Wretched ... The Brothers of Apes and Pigs'

Although rarely reported by the U.S. media, the sermons and pronouncements by many Muslim clerics are grossly anti-Semitic. A typical example is Yemeni cleric Sheikh Ahmad Bin Anis, who recently preached that the nation of Islam is ruled by its “enemies,” the “Jews,” who are the “most despicable, base, vile, and wretched of all the creatures,” and are “the brothers of apes and pigs.”

In a recent sermon posted on the Internet and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI),  Sheikh Ahmad Bin Anis declares, "Oh Muslims, oh servants of Allah, the nation of Islam ruled the world for a long time. This nation ruled the land in accordance with the shari'a.”

“The Islamic nation is invincible,” he says.  “In the days of yore, its slogan was: 'Convert to Islam, and you will be safe. Allah will reward you twice. Otherwise, pay the jizya poll tax in humiliation. Or else the sword will come down on the heads of those who resist this.'”

"Today, however, our enemies have joined forces against our nation,” says Sheikh Ahmad Bin Anis.  “The Islamic nation is held hostage by the absolutely most despicable and base nation on the face of the Earth. The nation of Islam has become subordinate to others, while in the past, others were subordinate to it. The nation is ruled by others, while in the past, others were ruled by it.”

“The nation of Islam has been taken over by its enemies,” he says.  “It has been taken over by the Jews – the most despicable, base, vile, and wretched of all the creatures of Allah.”

“Our nation has been taken over by the brothers of apes and pigs,” states the Muslim cleric.

"For those who are not familiar with the history of the Jews – they are the enemies of Allah, of His messengers, and of His prophets,” says the sheikh.  “The Jews are the enemies of the holy books and the enemies of mankind. The Jews never honor agreements, treaties, or covenants of protection.”

“They are the enemies of humanity, the enemies of mankind,” says Sheikh Ahmad Bin Anis.   “The Jews are the enemies of peace!"


Black crime is a  Tax on the Poor

By Walter E. Williams

A few years ago, BET had a commentary titled "Where Are the Grocery Stores in Black Neighborhoods?" One wonders whether anyone thinks that the absence of supermarkets in predominantly black neighborhoods means that white merchants do not like dollars coming out of black hands. Racial discrimination cannot explain the absence of supermarkets in black communities.

Compare the operation of a supermarket in a low-crime neighborhood with that of one in a high-crime neighborhood. You will see differences in how they operate. Supermarkets in low-crime neighborhoods often have merchandise on display near entrances. They may have merchandise left unattended outside the store, such as plants and gardening material. Often these items are left out overnight. Supermarket managers' profit maximizing objective is to maximize merchandise turnover per square foot of leased space. The economic significance of being able to have merchandise located at entrances and outside is the supermarket manager can use all of the space he leases.

Supermarket operation differs in high-crime neighborhoods. Merchandise will not be left unattended outside the store — and surely not overnight. Because of greater theft, the manager will not have products near entrances and exits. As a result, the manager cannot use all of the space that he leases. On top of this, it is not unusual to see a guard employed by the store.

Because supermarkets operate on a very lean profit margin, typically less than 2 percent, crime makes such a business unprofitable. The larger crime cost is borne by black residents, who must pay higher prices, receive inferior-quality goods at small mom and pop stores and/or bear the transportation cost of having to shop at suburban malls. Crime works as a tax on people who can least afford it.

Racial discrimination suits have been brought against pizza companies whose drivers either refuse to deliver pizzas to certain neighborhoods or require customers to come down to their car. In many instances, the pizza deliverymen are black people who are reluctant to deliver pizzas even in their own neighborhoods. For a law-abiding person, not to have deliveries on the same terms as everyone else is insulting, but who is to blame?

It is not just pizzas. Recently, Comcast notified a cable customer on the South Side of Chicago the company would not send out a technician because of the violent crime in the area. Delivery companies do not leave packages in high-crime neighborhoods when the customer is not home. The company must bear the costs of making return trips, or more likely, the customer has to bear the cost of going to pick up the package. Taxi drivers, as well as Uber and Lyft drivers, are reluctant to provide services to high-crime neighborhoods.

Crime and lack of respect for property rights impose another unappreciated cost. They lower the value of everything in the neighborhood. A house that is not even worth $50,000 might be worth many multiples of that after gentrification. Gentrification is a trend in some urban neighborhoods whereby higher-income people buy up property in poor repair and fix it up. This results in the displacement of lower-income families and small businesses. Before we call gentrification an exclusively racial phenomenon, many gentrifiers are black middle-class, educated people.

It is by no means flattering to law-abiding black people that "black" has become synonymous with "crime." Crime not only imposes high costs on blacks but also sours race relations. Whites are apprehensive of blacks, and blacks are offended by being subjects of that apprehension. That apprehension and offense are exhibited in many insulting ways to law-abiding blacks — for example, jewelers keeping their displays locked and store clerks giving extra surveillance to black shoppers.

White people and police officers cannot fix this or other problems of the black community. If blacks do not fix them, they will not be fixed, at least in a pleasing way.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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