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Vaccine confidence is higher in more religious countries

2021-04-14

Vaccine hesitancy is a threat to global health, but it is not ubiquitous; depending on the country, the proportion that have confidence in vaccines ranges from a small minority to a huge majority. Little is known about what explains this dramatic variation in vaccine confidence. We hypothesize that variation in religiosity may play a role because traditional religious teachings are likely to be incompatible with the specific magical/spiritual health beliefs that often undergird anti-vaccination sentiments. In analyses of publicly available data in 147 countries, we find that a country measure of religiosity is strongly positively correlated with country measures of confidence in the safety, importance, and effectiveness of vaccines, and these associations are robust to controlling for measures of human development (education, economic development, and health). The underlying mechanism needs to be examined in future research.

Do income and marriage mediate the relationship between cognitive ability and fertility? Data from Swedish taxation and conscriptions registers for men born 1951-1967

2021-03-14

Recent evidence suggests a positive association between fertility and cognitive ability among Swedish men. In this study we use data on 18 birth cohorts of Swedish men to examine whether and how the relationship between cognitive ability and patterns of childbearing are mediated by income, education and marriage histories. We examine whether the expected positive associations between cognitive ability and life course income can explain this positive association. We also explore the role of marriage for understanding the positive gradient between cognitive ability and fertility. To address these questions we use Swedish population administrative data that holds information on fertility histories, detailed taxation records, and data from conscription registers. We also identify siblings in order to adjust for confounding by shared family background factors. Our results show that while cognitive ability, education, income, marriage, and fertility, are all positively associated with each other, income only explains a part of the observed positive gradient between fertility and cognitive ability. We find that much of the association between cognitive ability and fertility can be explained by marriage, but that a positive association exists among both ever-married and never-married men. Both low income and low cognitive ability are strong predictors of childlessness and low fertility in our population. The results from the full population persist in the sub-sample of brothers.

Climate Change Denial among Radical Right-Wing Supporters

2021-02-16

The linkage between political right-wing orientation and climate change denial is extensively studied. However, previous research has almost exclusively focused on the mainstream right, which differs from the far right (radical and extreme) in some important domains. Thus, we investigated correlates of climate change denial among supporters of a radical right-wing party (Sweden Democrats, N = 2216), a mainstream right-wing party (the Conservative Party, Moderaterna, N = 634), and a mainstream center-left party (Social Democrats, N = 548) in Sweden. Across the analyses, distrust of public service media (Swedish Television, SVT), socioeconomic right-wing attitudes, and antifeminist attitudes outperformed the effects of anti-immigration attitudes and political distrust in explaining climate change denial, perhaps because of a lesser distinguishing capability of the latter mentioned variables. For example, virtually all Sweden Democrat supporters oppose immigration. Furthermore, the effects of party support, conservative ideologies, and belief in conspiracies were relatively weak, and vanished or substantially weakened in the full models. Our results suggest that socioeconomic attitudes (characteristic for the mainstream right) and exclusionary sociocultural attitudes and institutional distrust (characteristic for the contemporary European radical right) are important predictors of climate change denial, and more important than party support per se.

Gender Differences in the Interest in Mathematics Schoolwork Across 50 Countries

2021-01-22

Although much research has found girls to be less interested in mathematics than boys are, there are many countries in which the opposite holds. I hypothesize that variation in gender differences in interest are driven by a complex process in which national culture promoting high math achievement drives down interest in math schoolwork, with the effect being amplified among girls due to their higher conformity to peer influence. Predictions from this theory were tested in a study of data on more than 500,000 grade 8 students in 50 countries from the 2011 and 2015 waves of TIMSS. Consistent with predictions, national achievement levels were strongly negatively correlated with national levels of math schoolwork interest and this variation was larger among girls: girls in low-achievement, high-interest countries had especially high interest in math schoolwork, whereas girls in high-achievement, low-interest countries had especially low interest in math schoolwork. Gender differences in math schoolwork interest were also found to be related to gender differences in math achievement, emphasizing the importance of understanding them better.

The Influence of Health in Early Adulthood on Male Fertility

2020-12-08

Despite the large literature examining predictors of fertility, previous research has not offered a population-level perspective on how health in early adulthood is related to male fertility. Using Swedish population and military conscription registers, we study how body mass index (BMI), physical fitness, and height are associated with total fertility and parity transitions by 2012 among 405,427 Swedish men born 1965-1972, meaning we observe fertility up to age 40 or older. Applying linear regression and sibling fixed effects, we find that these anthropometric measures are strong predictors of fertility, even after accounting for education and cumulative income. Men with a normal BMI and in the highest decile of physical fitness have the most children. Men who were obese at ages 17-20 had a relative probability of childlessness almost twice as high as men who had a normal BMI, and men in the bottom decile of physical fitness had a relatively probability of childlessness more than 50 percent higher than men in the top decile. In sibling comparison models the tallest men have the most children and men in the lowest two deciles of height have significantly lower fertility. Further analyses show that the strong associations persist even among men who married.

Segregation within school classes : Detecting social clustering in choice data

2020-08-28

We suggest a new method for detecting patterns of social clustering based on choice data. The method compares similar subjects within and between cohorts and thereby allows us to isolate the effect of peer influence from that of exogenous factors. Using this method on Norwegian register data, we address the question of whether students tend to cluster socially based on similar background. We find that common background correlates with making the same choices of curricular tracks, and that both exogenous preferences and peer influence matter. This applies to immigrant students from the same country, and, to some extent, to descendants of immigrants, but not to students from culturally similar countries. There are also small effects related to parents' education and income.

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