Blacks, Hispanics, and Health Outcomes

In the US, blacks score significantly worse than non-Hispanic whites* on many health metrics, such as life expectancy and infant mortality. In 1999, a black man could expect to live 6.4 years less than a white man, while a black woman could expect to live 5 years less than a white woman. And the infant mortality rate for black mothers is more than twice that for non-Hispanic white mothers.

One of the most popular hypotheses to explain this fact is that blacks don't have as much access to quality health care as whites. This is superficially plausible--see for example the chart on page 18 of this PDF, which shows that 10.6% of non-Hispanic whites lack medical insurance compared to 19.4% of blacks.

But let's take another look at those charts. We see that nearly a third (32.8%) of Hispanics lack health insurance. So their health outcomes must be even worse, right? Well...no. The infant mortality rate for Hispanics is marginally lower than that for non-Hispanic whites, and their life expectancy is 2.4/3.6 years (male/female) greater than the life expectancy of non-Hispanic whites.

This is probably due in part to the fact that about 40% of Hispanics in the US are foreign-born, since immigrants tend to outlive native Americans of the same race, but this can only explain why Hispanics live longer than whites--it doesn't explain why they live so much longer than blacks, who have greater access to health care. Nor can it explain the longevity and low infant mortality of Asians, who are also significantly more likely than whites to lack health insurance, yet manage to live 6.1/6.4 years longer.

It's times like this when I think that the world might make a bit more sense if I believed in human biodiversity.

*For some reason Latinos are considered to be whites of Hispanic origin in most US government statistics.

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There's nothing there that

There's nothing there that contradicts what I said. Regarding the second two points, the correlation between the IQs of monozygotic twins are much tighter than the correlation between the IQs of dizygotic twins. This is extremely powerful evidence that IQ differences are partially genetic. On top of that, scientists have already discovered several genes that appear to affect IQ. Do you then accept this as proof that the black-white IQ gap is genetic? If not, then why do you assume that Watson does? A genetic basis for IQ differences at the individual level is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a genetic basis for the black-white IQ gap.

Regarding the first point, this is not a hypothesis which is clearly absurd. I can't find the exact text of Watson's "sun and sex" speech, but from what I can find it's not clear that he was talking about race at all. As far as I can tell, what he said is that since injecting men with melanin increases their sex drive, sun exposure may increase sex drive by upregulating melanin production.

Then he made a joke about how this could be why there are "Latin lovers" while no one's ever heard of an "English lover." That could be interpreted as a statement about race, or it could be interpreted as a statement about the relative suitability of the climates of England and Italy for sunbathing. Or it could be interpreted as a joke.

But suppose it had been about race. That doesn't mean you get to dismiss it out of hand. We don't know exactly what evidence Watson presented in favor of his hypothesis, or even for sure what the hypothesis was. Nor does this have anything to do with a belief in a genetic basis for the black-white IQ gap, except in the sense that someone unwilling to accept one racial taboo is less likely to accept others.

Call me crazy but he serves

Call me crazy but he serves a purpose. I am not saying we should embrace all form of political incorrectness, especially it's content but we should take at least some comfort in seeing some people can still brave the taboos.

I see nothing wrong in the macho flash shock effect of using political incorrectness. The stronger the political taboo, the more it should be trampled.

I apologize to my exegetes, I am indeed advocating PI for it's own sake.

So, just to be clear, you're

So, just to be clear, you're perfectly cool with Holocaust denial? Since this is of course one of the ultimate politically incorrect taboos, would you conclude that this taboo should be trampled the most?

I come from a country where

I come from a country where holocaust denial is punishable by jail and large fines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gayssot_Act). This has recently be extended to Armenian genocide denial.

We have some holocausts deniers in France, at least they maintain a certain pressure, at least they remind everyone that we live in a country where history is decided by law, not by historians.

They do have a positive impact on freedom of expression. As far as I'm concerned, I think truth is more important than trampling political correctness and I would certainly not pick holocaust denying.

Parenthesis -

I find it a bit worrying that so many Jewish organizations are often the first in line to attack this form of speech. Most of the people in these organizations did not live the holocaust, they are not victims of the holocaust, and yet act as if they owned it.

Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Finkielkraut has extensively written on the need to avoid any form of "ownership" of the holocaust. By the way he came under fire in the recent years for allegedly racist comments. The political correctness police got him as well.

- end parenthesis

Note that Konkin was also a strong advocate of historical revisionism.

Holocaust deniers do much more good protecting freedom of speech than any harm they can make.

I wrote a long response but

I wrote a long response but it's lost in approval limbos... to make it short, in France it's not just PI, it's illegal, history is determined by law. That's way more scary than a bunch of nutjobs claiming the holocaust didn't happen. When the nutjobs brave the taboo, they become useful nutjobs.

No problem

My own view is that, ideally, a person will speak his mind regardless of the political orthodoxy, and ideally will not be influenced by the orthodoxy (i.e. will not be influenced by threat explicit or implicit, though will be influenced by legitimate persuasion), and ideally will suffer no repercussions personally or professionally for stating his views. Realistically, it is not a good idea to publicly go against the orthodoxy.

This position isn't a strict application of libertarian ideology, because libertarianism allows people to dissociate themselves from each other for any reason they like, and so if a person has the wrong view about which end of a soft-boiled egg to crack open then he may find his life destroyed by the entirely voluntary reactions of others around him. However, I tend to think that, just as a really free society will tend to punish racists in the marketplace and so will tend to suppress racism, so too will a really free society tend to instill in people a tolerance for bizarre views. Up to and including holocaust denial.

This is not to say that a historian who is a holocaust denier would not be fired. I am saying that he would be fired for being a poor historian, rather than specifically for being a politically incorrect poor historian.

The problem with regressions

The problem with regressions comparing blacks and whites is that many leftists take as axiomatic that any difference in outcomes between the races is due to racism. For example, I've heard someone argue--seriously--that the reason for high black infant mortality is that black women tend to have high rates of hypertension, and that this is due to the stress of dealing with racism. This is trivially applicable to life expectancy.

This is a lot harder to do when you pull Hispanics into the mix, as Hispanics are arguably even more subject to racism (because of xenophobia). The fact that foreigners tend to outlive native Americans of the same race complicates things for the proponents of the Axiom of Racism as well, because foreigners must deal with both racism and xenophobia--very few adult immigrants can disguise their accents.

Include Hispanics in the regression

I hear you, but then you could include Hispanics in the regression too. I think it is important to use the technique that will allow at least those people who want to consider the most plausible alternatives the ability to determine whether the effect is even there in the first place.

Look at diet and exercise.

Look at diet and exercise. What proportion of Hispanics are doing manual labor? Working in a field, doing construction, or even maid service has got to be better for some health outcomes than sitting in an office chair all day.

First gather your evidence, then you can start worrying about the bogeyman of racism. You seem to have these two steps backwards.

I can live with that. I

I can live with that. I realize that this doesn't prove that HBD is a factor in different average lifespans among races*. Mainly I wanted to point out the problems with the sort of naive inference I mentioned in the first part of the post. It's true that correlation doesn't prove causation, but the argument for causation is weaker when you don't even have correlation.

FWIW, Hispanics (and especially Latinos) do tend to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes than whites. Also, I'm not as convinced as you that field work promotes longevity. Exercise is good up to a point, but the sort of chronic stress created by doing medium-intensity physical labor all day every day may actually do more harm than good.

This post by Robin Hanson has some charts of all-cause age- and race-adjusted death rates by occupation. Also age-, race-, income-, and education-adjusted rates (the lighter line). For men, at least, farm laborers (distinct from farmers in the chart) have a middling death rate (for low-SES jobs), while construction workers and cleaning service workers have fairly high death rates, even by low-SES standards. Though female farm laborers may actually be have the lowest death rate among women with low-SES jobs, depending on what FrmManLbr stands for.

For the record, I don't endorse Hanson's logic in that post--I think he may be too quick to dismiss selection bias.

*Although I do personally suspect that it is, since there are genes which we're pretty sure affect longevity, and it would be very surprising if they happened to be distributed equally among the races.