Re: poly: Does home ownership cause unemployment?

From: Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko <>
Date: Wed Dec 10 1997 - 01:00:46 PST

Nice articles.


>"More Sex Is Safer Sex, The economic case for promiscuity"

Excerpt from the start of the article:
  Suppose you walk into a bar and find four potential sex partners. Two
  are highly promiscuous; the others venture out only once a year. The
  promiscuous ones are, of course, more likely to be HIV-positive. That
  gives you a 50-50 chance of finding a relatively safe match.

   But suppose all once-a-year revelers could be transformed into
   twice-a-year revelers. Then, on any given night, you'd run into twice as
   many of them. Those two promiscuous bar patrons would be
   outnumbered by four of their more cautious rivals. Your odds of a
   relatively safe match just went up from 50-50 to four out of six.

OK, but if "you" are the cautious type, then you would go there twice
a year now, and so your chance of contacting a promiscuous person at
least once a year will go up from 1/2 to 5/9 - which is natural because
the promiscuous people will also have greater chances now of meeting
cautious people. And you have a chance now to contact two promiscuous
people in one year. On top of that, your "relatively safe" contacts will now
be less safe.
  Whether this is or is not the case for some promiscuity distributions,
the same result could be easier achieved by promiscuous people reducing
their representation in the bar by being less promiscuous - that is, having
LESS sex, right?

  So this is the issue of distribution of promiscuity - in some distributions, other

things being equal, it may make sense to increase the promiscuity of the most
cautious people; in all distributions it probably still makes sense to proportionally
decrease everyone's promiscuity.

The libertarian regulation arguments still hold though and seem quite wonderful.


                Residential stability is extremely
                important for children. If your family moves
                during your school years (ages 6-15), your
                chance of graduating high school falls by 16
                Like Oswald's numbers on housing
                and unemployment, these numbers might
                allow a variety of explanations--like "families
                that move are more likely to be poor, and
                that's why their kids don't do as well." But in
                fact Haveman and Wolfe's statistical analysis
                is designed to rule out this and similar
                alternative theories, leaving us to conclude
                that the moves themselves are harmful.

I am usually quite suspicious of statistical analysis, because some of the
important variables, like psychological features of the family that make it both
mobile and unsuccessful, or kids losing friends as the result of relocation
(what happens to them when their *friends* move, or they go to another
school while living in the same house? what happens in nomadic tribes or
communes or military garrisons that move altogether?) may be not taken
into account at all.

I do not know about this particular research, but a large number of observations
I read get caught in statistics and often draw very funny conclusions, often preselected
to support some particular policy; e.g., I clearly remember a KGB lecture where the
audience was told that longevity positively correlates with radiation levels (really,
both are higher in the mountains, but that's because of cleaner air and lower crime
coinciding with higher solar radiation - they "forgot" to make corrections).

Similarly, in a recent debate over the health of people living under high-voltage lines:
maybe the lines just look ugly and make noise, and people who care or can afford
nicer place, move out, while those who don't care or can't afford to move wouldn't
have been healthy anyway... I wonder whether the same health effects could be
observed near non-working lines, or whether they depend on the voltage..

Alexander Chislenko <>
Received on Wed Dec 10 09:03:09 1997

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