Longer pieces, posts with extra data analysis, and highlights from the last few years.

Lifetime chance of marrying for Black and White women

Black women are less likely to ever marry than White women, but the difference isn’t as large as I expected, because Black women are much more likely to marry at older ages. Part of an ongoing analysis of marriage markets and inequality. Combines demographic analysis of an important question while demonstrating useful lifetable techniques. A little technical, but you get the point.

Deciphering a well-told data story, cars are good for kids edition

cars-malnourishmentEveryone knows correlation does not prove cause. But the people trying to convince that their correlation is causal will employ some of these tricks. How to protect yourself, with an example showing the very strong relationship between car driving and children’s well-being: multiple indicators, different data sources, statistical controls. It all adds up to baloney.

Santa’s magic, children’s wisdom, and inequality 

The myth of Santa might seem like harmless fun and existential comfort-food. But we have two problems that the Santa situation may exacerbate. First is science denial. And second is inequality. An exploration of credulity and skepticism among children — from Margaret Mead to Elf on the Shelf, and its implications for the U.S. today.

Six grueling demographic indicators of Detroit’s decline (and some pictures)

It’s probably the greatest population decline in the modern history of cities, along with record institutional isolation, family instability, and widowhood rates. And then there are the deserted and decaying houses. The willful lack of attention or compassion from the U.S. government, and the mainstream culture, must feel as cold as it looks.

It’s modernity, stupid

In The Sacred Project of American Sociology, Christian Smith says the discipline of sociology has overdosed on modernity, and lost its ability to critically examine itself and its questionable, unquestioned assumptions. The book is awful, but it’s a good chance to think about what’s going on in academic sociology. Has the discipline’s progressive orientation become a religious orthodoxy? I don’t think so.

Is the price of sex too damn low?

Mark Regnerus returns to the public eye with a video mansplaination of the “economics of sex,” which means feminism has hurt women, hurt families, hurt children, and dragged society toward a rapidly-spiraling drain. And if you think that’s wrong (which it is), wait till you hear from the man whose theory Regnerus based it on. Funny, but no joke, as the video gets tens of thousands of views and accolades from the right-wing press.

Gender in animated movies


A series of posts on the construction of sex and gender in animated movies for children. From hand and wrist size in Frozen and Tangled to gender the old-fashioned sexism of “Smurfette” in The Smurfs, the choices they make when they could have drawn anything always tell us something — and they usually tell us that men are extremely, naturally different from women, and we like it that way.

Marriage’s global decline

Using data from four sources on most of the world’s countries, I illustrate the decline of marriage in the last several decades, arguing it is nearly universal, in rich countries and poor countries, and that it is not simply attributablto increasing age or education levels. Some of this is because people are delaying marriage, but that is part of the decline as well. I see no major modern precedent cases in which this trend has been reversed. Can we safely predict it will continue for several decades? I think so.

The Regnerus Affair

In 2012 Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, funded by $800,000 from conservative foundations, published a paper suggesting that growing up with gay or lesbian parents was harmful to children. In a series of posts under the Regnerus tag, I critique the work and chronicle the controversy, from the publishing process and reviews, to the letter from 200 researchers, the American Sociological Association’s response and the paper’s place in the Supreme Court deliberations over marriage rights.

The End of Men and the Richer Sex, reality check series

A series of posts on the books by Hanna Rosin (End of Men) and Liza Mundy (Richer Sex), and related debates, are at the Hanna Rosin tag. My review of both books together appears in the Boston Review as “Still a Man’s World: The Myth of Women’s Ascendance.”

Do Asians in the U.S. have high incomes?

Some do (e.g., Japanese, Indian), some don’t (e.g., Cambodian, Hmong). Because Asians are a diverse category made up of groups with very different profiles, and their household composition and geographic distribution vary by national origin group, generalizations are often unhelpful. I look at those factors for 10 Asian groups, and offer the details, including SAS code, so you can work on it more yourself.

One case of very similar publications, with some implications and suggestions

In which I use a detailed case of a “very similar publications” — which make the same claims to originality, and include extensive copied text — and reflect on the institutional problems it reveals. I conclude with some of the research on publication problems in academia and a few concrete suggestions.

Should every sociologist blog?

Writing a blog – as well as reading and contributing to the blogs of others – seems the most practical and engaging means of achieving the intellectual ideal that Mills described, which requires “surrounding oneself by a circle of people who will listen and talk.” Today’s blog platform is ideal for that.

Play, supervision and pressured parenting

On the changing norms of childhood, children’s safety and parenting — from traffic fatalities in New York City circa 1910 to hypervigilance at local playground in the present day, via Unequal Childhoods and research on children’s physical fitness.

What do to about the 1% meme?

A series of posts on the old claim that women only own 1% of the world’s property, which has been repeated in many forms and places since the 1970s, and still pops up today. I explain the origins of the claim, it’s continued resilience, a recent blog-and-Twitter-driven flareup, and finally a stab at empirical debunking.

Distorting data on divorce at the National Marriage Project

The National Marriage Project is telling some tall tales, courtesy of a grant from the Templeton Foundation‘s “Foundations of Marital Generosity Project.” By using private foundation money and taking his results directly to the media, the National Marriage Project bypasses the peer-review system — but they use the image of that system to bolster their prestige and authority.

Doing color with babies

Color is everywhere; gender is everywhere; color and gender have a varied, changing, and hard-to-pin-down relationship, which nevertheless creates powerful, explicit and implicit signals by and for both the people who apply colors (to their kids, themselves, their cars) and those who see them (including themselves). With the recent news of Disney moving its product lines into the delivery room, I was wondering how one could study the application of colors by parents to their children in real life.

Time check

After I commented on Time‘s story about young women earning more than young men, “Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top,” Editor-At-Large Belinda Luscombe was good enough to drop in with her comment on my comment. Our exchange led me back to look at the story, and that led me to tinker with the data. This is the result.

Receding birth rates: Milestone or tipping point?

Less than two years ago I was asking, “Why Are American Women Having More Children?” So, is it true that the recession has changed the birth calculus, raising the specter of “more mouths to feed”? The evidence looks — mostly — like the recession has prompted a downturn in birth rates. But the long-term implications aren’t clear.

Citizenship: Because I said so

Democracy is a living monument to individual rights. Except not in real life, where nationalism protects the patriot’s political shenanigans from the shame of selfishness. Today’s example: citizenship. For a newborn baby, yet to commit its first sin, what is the moral principle that lets the citizenship of it parents determine its rights?

Educated motherhood

Do more educated parents do it better, or are there other things about these homes, families, neighborhoods, friends, schools, etc., that account for this pattern? If education really is the issue, it’s a big part of how families transmit inequality — how rich parents produce rich children, and poor kids turn out poor.