nation: Argentina

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:


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


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:


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:


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:


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.

Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

The Washington Post has provided some data on medical costs across a selection of countries (Argentina, Canada, Chile, and India in grey; France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain in blue; and the U.S. in red). The data reveal that American health care is very expensive compared to other countries.


No wonder the US spends twice as much as France on health care.  In 2009, the U.S. average was $8000 per person; in France, $4000.  (Canada came in at $4800).  Why do we spend so much?  Ezra Klein quotes the title of a 2003 paper by four health-care economists:  “it’s the prices, stupid.”

And why are US prices higher?  Prices in the other OECD countries are lower partly because of what U.S. conservatives would call socialism – the active participation of the government.  In the U.K. and Canada, the government sets prices.  In other countries, the government uses its Wal-Mart-like power as a huge buyer to negotiate lower prices from providers.  (If it’s a good thing for Wal-Mart to bring lower prices for people who need to buy clothes, why is it a bad thing for the government to bring lower prices to people who need to buy, say, an appendectomy? I could never figure that out.)

There may also be cultural differences between the U.S. and other wealthy countries, differences about whether greed, for lack of a better word, is good.  How much greed is good, and in what realms is it good?  Klein quotes a man who served in the Thatcher government:

Health is a business in the United States in quite a different way than it is elsewhere.  It’s very much something people make money out of. There isn’t too much embarrassment about that compared to Europe and elsewhere.

So we Americans roll along, paying several times what others pay for medical procedures, doctor visits, and drugs.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.

The  International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has released new data on the incidence of invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures.  The U.S. leads in sheer numbers of procedures but, accounting for population, we fall into 4th place.  South Korea leads for the number of procedures per person, followed by Greece and Italy.


By far the most common kinds of surgical cosmetic procedures are lipoplasty and breast augmentation.  Along with fat, breasts seem to be a particular concern: breast lifts and breast reductions for both men and women are also in the top ten.  Abdominoplasty, nose jobs, eyelid surgeries, and facelifts are as well.


The incidence of these surgeries is strongly related to everything from the gender binary to global power dynamics.  In 2008 we reported that male breast reductions were the most common cosmetic surgery for 13-19 year olds (boys and girls combined). You would be shocked at what counts as excess breast tissue and how little the before and after photos look.  Boys and men getting breast reductions, alongside women getting augmentations, is obviously about our desire for men and women to be different, not naturally-occurring difference.  See The Story of My Man-Boobs for more.

Likewise, we’ve posted about surgeries that create an epithelial fold, a fold of skin in the eyelid more common in people with White than Asian ethnic backgrounds.  This surgery is a trend among Asians and Asian-Americans, as colonization has left us with an association between Whiteness, attractiveness, and power.

The Economist summarizes some other trends:

Breast augmentation, the second biggest surgical procedure, is most commonly performed in America and Brazil. Buttock implants are also a Brazilian specialty, as is vaginal rejuvenation. Asia is keen on nose jobs: China, Japan and South Korea are among the top five nations for rhinoplasty.

More on where and how many procedures are being performed, but nothing on why, at the ISAPS report.

Image at The Economist; via Global Sociology.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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.

Cross-posted at Family Inequality.

I have criticized sloppy statistical work by some international feminist organizations, so I’m glad to have a chance to point out a useful new report and website.

The Progress of the World’s Women is from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The full-blown site has an executive summary, a long report, and a statistics index page with a download of the complete spreadsheet. I selected a few of the interesting graphics.

Skewed sex ratios (which I’ve written about here and here) are in the news, with the publication of Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl. The report shows some of the countries with the most skewed sex ratios, reflecting the practice of parents aborting female fetuses (Vietnam and Taiwan should  be in there, too). With the exception of Korea, they’ve all gotten more skewed since the 1990s, when ultrasounds became more widely available, allowing parents to find out the sex of the fetus early in the pregnancy.

The most egregious inequality between women of the world is probably in maternal mortality. This chart shows, for example, that the chance of a woman dying during pregnancy or birth is about 100- 39-times higher in Africa than Europe. The chart also shows how many of those deaths are from unsafe abortions.

Finally, I made this one myself, showing women as a percentage of parliament in most of the world’s rich countries (the spreadsheet has the whole list). The USA, with 90 women out of 535 members of Congress, comes in at 17%.

The report focuses on law and justice issues, including rape and violence against women, as well as reparations, property rights, and judicial reform. They boil down their conclusions to: “Ten proven approaches to make justice systems work for women“:

1. Support women’s legal organizations

2. Support one-stop shops and specialized services to reduce attrition in the justice chain [that refers to rape cases, for example, not making their way from charge to conviction -pnc]

3. Implement gender-sensitive law reform

4. Use quotas to boost the number of women legislators

5. Put women on the front line of law enforcement

6. Train judges and monitor decisions

7. Increase women’s access to courts and truth commissions in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

8. Implement gender-responsive reparations programmes

9. Invest in women’s access to justice

10. Put gender equality at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals

I’m back! I was in the middle of moving and just overwhelmed with everything. Anyway. Talking Points Memo posted a link to an article at Slate about income inequality in the U.S., and particularly the increasing proportion of total U.S. income earned by the very rich. Timothy Noah refers to the “great compression” as a time period when income concentration among top earners dropped significantly, and argues that in the past three decades we’ve seen a “great divergence,” with increasing income inequality hitting levels not seen since the Great Depression:

A slideshow accompanies the article, providing more info on the changes Noah discusses. A few examples (the slideshow provides the data source used to create each image):

Even among the very rich, we see increasing divergence, with the super-ultra rich, the top 0.1% of earners, now making 8% of all U.S. income:

A comparison to some other countries (I don’t know why these specific nations were chosen for the comparison):

Keep in mind, this data includes only income. Wealth — the worth of all assets, including retirement and savings accounts, stocks, homes, cars, and anything else of value — is much more unequally distributed.

Congress is about to be embroiled in a major debate about whether to extend the tax cuts on high incomes; as both sides weigh in, here’s some context to keep in mind:

The effective tax rate is what people actually pay, as opposed to what their tax rate theoretically is. While we’ve certainly seen a large drop since the late ’70s, Noah argues that, compared to other economic changes, the effective tax rate hasn’t affected the rise in income inequality much. It plays a role, yes, but changing the tax rate on the very rich doesn’t affect the overall distribution of income a huge amount, in part because the effective rate, what people end up actually paying, generally ends up being smaller than what they theoretically owe based on the stated tax rate, once you take into account deductions, write-offs, loopholes, and so on.

So…happy post-Labor Day!

Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight, this graph shows the increase since 2001 in the number of people worldwide who live in jurisdictions where gay same-sex (or homogamous, if you prefer) marriage is legal. As of 2010, roughly 250 million people live in such areas (each column represents the total number for that year, broken into individual colors to show the number in each region):

The spike in 2008 is due to the California courts recognizing same-sex marriages, so the U.S. data pushed the total number upward; that, of course, was quickly reversed by Prop 8, so that bump disappears in 2009. Currently within the U.S., same-sex marriages are legal in Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., while apparently New York, New Mexico, California, and Rhode Island don’t allow them to be performed but recognize those performed elsewhere (a friend of mine who lives in Rhode Island couldn’t marry his boyfriend there, but drove a half hour from their home into Massachusetts to do so and then went home, where his out-of-state marriage was then entirely legal). California recognizes those same-sex marriages that occurred between June and November 2008, before Prop 8 passed. Within Europe (which is all thrown together here, unfortunately), as far as I know the specific countries where it’s legal are Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Iceland), with Portugal and Iceland both doing so this year. In Mexico, same-sex marriages are legal only in Mexico City, but if performed there, must be recognized in other areas. And Argentina became the first country in South America to legalize them just last Thursday. (I’m not including domestic partnerships and other arrangements that are somewhat equivalent to, but clearly distinguished from, marriage here; adding those would certainly increase the number significantly.)

This is a small percentage (about 3.7%) of the total global population of nearly 7 billion, and they are highly concentrated in (Western) Europe and North America, with those in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America largely excluded. But the global pattern is a slow but steady rise over time just over the past decade in the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Antonio M. and Miguel both sent in this commercial for a bank that ran in Argentina:

Honestly, I don’t even quite know what to say. I mean, it’s not subtle with the sentimentality and “yay for tolerance!” message, but it’s so rare to see transgender individuals depicted as anything other than ridiculous or disgusting that I watched it a couple of times and then just sat here and thought “Holy crap. Look at that.”

Often when I see companies touting their tolerance/eco-friendliness/good-neighborliness, I suspect it may be a marketing ploy with little change in actions or policies behind it–you can, for instance, celebrate Black History Month by putting up signs in your business and doing nothing else, and there’s little cost. It occurred to me after I watched the commercial that in this case the bank professed a type of tolerance that wasn’t risk-free to it. Saying your business is eco-friendly, or celebrates a civil rights hero from the past, or honors Carnival or Christmas or a local athletic team or the marching band, isn’t likely to make many people angry, which is why businesses usually stick to such safe issues. I’m by no means an expert on Argentinian culture and attitudes toward the transgender community; I’ve read that Argentinians are more accepting of people who are transgender, but I’ve also read that this acceptance is often over-exaggerated and that anti-gay and anti-transgender attitudes still exist, particularly outside of urban areas. Anyway, I assume that an Argentinian business might suffer some negative consequences from an ad like this that so openly and unequivocally advocates for acceptance, and I think it’s sort of fascinating that they decided to run it anyway.

Thoughts? Insights? Anybody know what the Argentinian transgender community thinks of the ad? Or what people in the U.S. think of it, for that matter?

(NEW!) Jody B. sent in this Progressive insurance ad, which appears to feature a gay couple:

Of course, there’s no clear evidence they’re supposed to be gay, but the one guy is wearing a shirt with what is sort of a rainbow-stripe motif, and there are two men together who aren’t talking about girls, sports, or beer, so apparently many viewers are interpreting them as a gay couple, and presumably Progressive intended that to happen, though perhaps not.

NEW! Tawny T. sent in this video from Stockholm Pride 2009 that questions how heteronormativity affects both gay and straight individuals–by making gays and lesbians invisible in many cases, and in expecting people to follow rigid gender models (i.e., to not act hurt on the athletic field) to prove their heterosexuality: