Tag Archives: nation: Poland

Global Attitudes toward Homosexuality

The Pew Research Global Attitudes Project recently released data on attitudes about homosexuality in 39 countries. Generally, those living in the Middle East and Africa were the least accepting, while those in the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia (the Philippines, Australia, and to a lesser extent Japan) were most accepting:

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Generally, the more religious a country, the less accepting its citizens are of homosexuality:

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The proportion of people who support social acceptance of gays and lesbians ranged from a high of 88% in Spain to a low of 1% in Nigeria:

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Attitudes about homosexuality vary widely by age. There is a pretty consistent global pattern of more positive attitudes among younger people, with a few exceptions:

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Thus far, legalization of same-sex marriage has been largely confined to the Americas and Europe; New Zealand and South Africa are the two outliers:

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The Pew Center points out that of the 15 nations that have fully extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, 8 have done so just since 2010. In the U.S., we’re currently awaiting a Supreme Court’s decision, which should arrive shortly, to know if we’ll be joining the list sooner rather than later.

Thanks to Peter Nardi at Pitzer College for the link!

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Ad for Polish Energy Drink is All Kinds of Wrong

First the marketing team for an energy drink out of Poland, called “Black,” hired a Black person, Mike Tyson, to personify its product.  Then, they surround him with White, female models and have the convicted rapist call himself a “beast” that can’t control himself.  Tag lines include “that’s the power of Black” and “Black power.”

So we have, in one ad campaign, the fetishization of Black men, the White supremacist portrayal of White women as the ultimate female, their objectification (see #3, he actually hands one out in the second ad), the trivialization of his crime (he can’t control himself, LOL right!?), the use of animalistic language to refer to Black people, and the appropriation of the Black Power movement.  Anyone see anything else?  Does it matter that this comes out of Poland and not the U.S.?

Thanks to Tom Megginson at Work That Matters for the heads up.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Extremism and National Character

Cross-posted at Neuroskeptic.

“Personality differences” between people from different countries may just be a reflection of cultural differences in the use of “extreme” language to describe people.

That’s according to a very important paper just out from an international team led by Estonia’s René Mõttus.

There’s a write up of the study here. In a nutshell, they took 3,000 people from 22 places and asked them to rate the personality of 30 fictional people based on brief descriptions (which were the same, but translated into the local language). Ratings were on a 1 to 5 scale.

It turned out that some populations handed out more of the extreme 1 or 5 responses. Hong Kong, South Korea and Germany tended to give middle of the road 2, 3 and 4 ratings, while Poland, Burkina Faso and people from Changchun in China were much more fond of 1s and 5s.

The characters they were rating were the same in all cases, remember.

Crucially, when the participants rated themselves on the same personality traits, they tended to follow the same pattern. Koreans rated themselves to have more moderate personality traits, compared to Burkinabés who described themselves in stronger tones.

Whether this is a cultural difference or a linguistic one is perhaps debatable; it might be a sign that it is not easy to translate English-language personality words into certain languages without changing how ‘strong’ they sound. However, either way, it’s a serious problem for psychologists interested in cross-cultural studies.

I’ve long suspected that something like this might lie behind the very large differences in reported rates of mental illness across countries. Studies have found that about 3 times as many people in the USA report symptoms of mental illness compared to people in Spain, yet the suicide rate is almost the same, which is odd because mental illness is strongly associated with suicide.

One explanation would be that some cultures are more likely to report ‘higher than normal’ levels of distress, anxiety — a bit like how some make more extreme judgements of personality.

So it would be very interesting to check this by comparing the results of this paper to the international mental illness studies. Unfortunately, the countries sampled don’t overlap enough to do this yet (as far as I can see).

Source: Mõttus R, et al (2012). The Effect of Response Style on Self-Reported Conscientiousness Across 20 Countries. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin PMID: 22745332

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Neuroskeptic blogs anonymously here.  You can also follow him on Twitter.

Declining Faith in Hard Work and Capitalism

Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.

The Pew Research Center recently published a report titled “Pervasive Gloom About the World Economy.” The following two charts come from Chapter 4 which is called “The Causalities: Faith in Hard Work and Capitalism.”

The first suggests that the belief that hard work pays off remains strong in only a few countries: Pakistan (81%), the U.S. (77%), Tunisia (73%), Brazil (69%), India (67%) and Mexico (65%). The low scores in China, Germany, and Japan are worth noting. This is not to say that people everywhere are not working hard, just that many no longer believe there is a strong connection between their effort and outcome.

The second chart highlights the fact that growing numbers of people are losing faith in free market capitalism.  Despite mainstream claims that “there is no alternative,” a high percentage of people in many countries do not believe that the free market system makes people better off.

GlobeScan polled more than 12,000 adults across 23 countries about their attitudes towards economic inequality and, as the chart below reveals, the results were remarkably similar to those highlighted above.  In fact, as GlobeScan noted, “In 12 countries over 50% of people said they did not believe that the rich deserved their wealth.

It certainly seems that large numbers of people in many different countries are open to new ways of organizing economic activity.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

Health Care and Profits

Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.

The Supreme Court has ruled favorably on the legality of the Affordable Care Act.  Actually, despite its name, the Act has more to do with extending and attempting to improve private health insurance coverage than it does with improving care or reducing its cost.

Unfortunately for us, the effort to improve our health care system has remained within bounds set by the needs of private health care providers and insurers.  As President Obama made clear from the start of his push for health care reform, there would be no consideration of a universal system.

Critics of such a universal system are always quick to argue that only market forces driven by the private pursuit of profit can ensure an efficient health care system.  Of course, in determining whether this is true, we need to recognize that efficiency is a complex term and that our health care system, like all systems, produces multiple outcomes.  The most obvious ones are private profit as well as the quality and cost of the relevant health care.

In terms of private profit there can be no doubt that our health care system functions well.  However, the story is quite different if we evaluate it in terms of quality and cost.  The fact that we continue to embrace a private health care system makes clear which measures of efficiency are considered most important and by whom.

The following map shows the countries, colored green, that have adopted a universal health care system.

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As Max Fisher explains:

What’s astonishing is how cleanly the green and grey separate the developed nations from the developing, almost categorically. Nearly the entire developed world is colored, from Europe to the Asian powerhouses to South America’s southern cone to the Anglophone states of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The only developed outliers are a few still-troubled Balkan states, the Soviet-style autocracy of Belarus, and the U.S. of A., the richest nation in the world.

The handful of developing countries that provide universal access to health care include oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Oman, Latin success story Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, and, famously, Cuba, among a few others. A number of countries have attempted universal health care but failed, such as South Africa, which maintains a notoriously inefficient and troubled public plan to complement the private plans popular among middle- and upper-class citizens…

That brings us to another way that America is a big outlier on health care. The grey countries on this map tend to spend significantly less per capita on health care than do the green countries — except for the U.S., where the government spends way more on health care per person than do most countries with free, universal health care. This is also true of health care costs as a share of national GDP — in other words, how much of a country’s money goes into health care.

The OECD just published a major study on the health care systems of its 34 member nations.  It found that:

 Health spending accounted for 17.6% of GDP in the United States in 2010, down slightly from 2009 (17.7%) and by far the highest share in the OECD, and a full eight percentage points higher than the OECD average of 9.5%. Following the United States were the Netherlands (at 12.0% of GDP), and France and Germany (both at 11.6% of GDP).

The United States spent 8,233 USD on health per capita in 2010, two-and-a-half times more than the OECD average of 3,268 USD (adjusted for purchasing power parity). Following the United States were Norway and Switzerland which spent over 5,250 USD per capita. Americans spent more than twice as much as relatively rich European countries such as France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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What does all of this mean in terms of health outcomes?  According to the OECD report:

Most OECD countries have enjoyed large gains in life expectancy over the past decades. In the United States, life expectancy at birth increased by almost 9 years between 1960 and 2010, but this is less than the increase of over 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in OECD countries. As a result, while life expectancy in the United States used to be 1½ year above the OECD average in 1960, it is now, at 78.7 years in 2010, more than one year below the average of 79.8 years. Japan, Switzerland, Italy and Spain are the OECD countries with the highest life expectancy, exceeding 82 years.

One possible explanation for this lagging performance, highlighted in an earlier OECD report, is that the U.S. ranked 26th in terms of the number of practicing physicians relative to its population, 29th in terms of the number of doctor consultations per capita, 29th in terms of the number of hospital beds per capita, and 29th in terms of the average length of hospital stay.  At the same time, the “U.S. health system does do a lot of interventions… it has a lot of expensive diagnostic equipment, which it uses a lot. And it does a lot of elective surgery — the sort of activities where it is not always clear cut about whether a particular intervention is necessary or not.”

Private health care providers and insurers are clear about how they measure health care efficiency.  And as long as we rely on them to set the terms of the debate we will continue to suffer the consequences.

Religiosity Varies Dramatically Across Countries

In a previous post I discussed how the U.S. became more religious in the 1950s, in part in response to its the Cold War enemies (atheist communists).  In fact, the U.S. is among the most religious countries in the world.  Using data from the International Social Survey Programme, Sociologist Tom Smith paints wildly different religious portraits of 28 nations (full text).

When asked whether they “know that God really exists and… have no doubt about it,” 61% of Americans say “yes.”  Of the 28 nations studied, only four were more likely to say “yes” to this question: Poland, Israel, Chile, and the Philippines. Here’s how we look compared to similar countries:

Here’s all 28 in rank order (borrowed from LiveScience).  Notice how wide the divergence is.  In Japan, the least religious country according to this measure, only 4% say they have no doubt God exists.  In The Philippines, 84% have no doubt.

% Have No Doubt God Exists:

  • Japan: 4.3 percent
  • East Germany: 7.8 percent
  • Sweden: 10.2
  • Czech Republic: 11.1
  • Denmark: 13.0
  • Norway: 14.8
  • France: 15.5
  • Great Britain: 16.8
  • The Netherlands: 21.2
  • Austria: 21.4
  • Latvia: 21.7
  • Hungary: 23.5
  • Slovenia: 23.6
  • Australia: 24.9
  • Switzerland: 25.0
  • New Zealand: 26.4
  • West Germany: 26.7
  • Russia: 30.5
  • Spain: 38.4
  • Slovakia: 39.2
  • Italy: 41.0
  • Ireland: 43.2
  • Northern Ireland: 45.6
  • Portugal: 50.9
  • Cyprus: 59.0
  • United States: 60.6
  • Poland: 62.0
  • Israel: 65.5
  • Chile: 79.4
  • The Philippines: 83.6

Americans are also particularly likely to believe in a “personal God,” one who is closely attentive to the lives of each and every person.

Quite interestingly, the U.S. is in the minority in that Americans tend to become increasingly religious as they age.  In most countries, people become less religious over time.  This graph (confusingly labeled), shows changes in DISbelief over the life course.  The U.S. is the only country among these in which disbelief declines:

Lifetime Change in Religiosity (from increase in disbelief to increase in belief):

  • The Netherlands: -14.0
  • Spain: -12.4
  • Australia: -12.0
  • France: -11.3
  • Norway: -11.0
  • Great Britain: -10.1
  • Switzerland: -8.2
  • Germany (East): -6.9
  • Denmark: -6.1
  • Czech Republic: -5.5
  • Sweden: -5.5
  • Germany (West): -5.4
  • New Zealand: -4.0
  • Italy: -2.7
  • Poland: -1.8
  • Japan: -1.5
  • Ireland: -0.9
  • Chile: +0.1
  • Cyprus: +0.2
  • Portugal: +0.6
  • The Philippines: +0.8
  • Hungary: +1.0
  • Northern Ireland: +1.0
  • United States: +1.4
  • Israel: +2.6
  • Slovakia: +5.6
  • Slovenia: +8.5
  • Latvia: +11.9
  • Russia: +16.0

Rates of atheism — a strong disbelief in God — also vary tremendously.  East Germany is the most atheist, with more than half of citizens claiming disbelief.  The country is a stark contrast to the atheist among them, Poland and the U.S. (only 3% atheist), Chile and Cyprus (2%), and The Phillipines (1%).

% Atheist:

  • East Germany: 52.1
  • Czech Republic: 39.9
  • France: 23.3
  • The Netherlands: 19.7
  • Sweden: 19.3
  • Latvia: 18.3
  • Great Britain: 18.0
  • Denmark: 17.9
  • Norway: 17.4
  • Australia: 15.9
  • Hungary: 15.2
  • Slovenia: 13.2
  • New Zealand: 12.6
  • Slovakia: 11.7
  • West Germany: 10.3
  • Spain: 9.7
  • Switzerland: 9.3
  • Austria: 9.2
  • Japan: 8.7
  • Russia: 6.8
  • Northern Ireland: 6.6
  • Israel: 6.0
  • Italy: 5.9
  • Portugal: 5.1
  • Ireland: 5.0
  • Poland: 3.3
  • United States: 3.0
  • Chile: 1.9
  • Cyprus: 1.9
  • The Philippines: 0.7

As a post-9/11 American watching another election cycle, I can’t help but notice how so much of our rhetoric revolves — sometimes overtly and sometimes not — around people who are the wrong religion.  Notably, Muslims.  And yet, the U.S. and many Muslim countries are alike in being strongly religious, at least in comparison to the many strongly secular countries.

This is odd because stands in contrast to recent data on American attitudes.  Within the U.S., people express much less tolerance for atheists than they do Muslims (homosexuals, African Americans, and immigrants). Weirdly, we think we have more in common with more secular nations like Great Britain than we do with countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In certain ways, the opposite might be true.

Thanks to Claude Fischer for the graphs.  Fischer, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, is the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

International Comparisons on Social Justice Measures

How does the U.S. compare to other developed countries on measures of social justice? According to the New York Times, not very well.  The visual below compares countries’ poverty rates, poverty prevention measures, income inequality, spending on pre-primary education, and citizen health.  The “overall” rating is on the far left and the U.S. ranks 27th out of 31.


Via Feministing.  See also how the U.S. ranks on measures of equality and prosperity(33 out of 33, for what it’s worth). Thanks to Dolores R. for the link!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

International Comparison of Christmas Gift Spending

As we enter the last frenzied days of Christmas shopping, Dmitriy T.M. thought it was worth looking at international comparisons in spending on the holiday. The Economist posted a graph based on Gallup polls and other data sources about how much individuals in various countries in Europe, plus the U.S. and South Africa, plan to spend on Christmas shopping this year, plotted against national GDP. Overall, Christmas spending correlates with national wealth, with the Netherlands being a noticeable outlier (spending less than we’d expect) and Luxembourg in a spending league of its own: