Ethnic and cultural fractionalization have become popular concepts in the social sciences. Intuitively, one may hypothesize that more fractionalized countries are more prone to ethnic conflicts and civil war, which is why there has been a stream of papers published on this topic. However, one may question the data that such research uses.
The popular fractionalization dataset that Alesina et al. have developed was supposed to ameliorate many of the problems that previous data have suffered from. Nevertheless, this dataset also seems to have major drawbacks . First of all, like most fractionalization datasets, it lacks a time dimension. Estimating correlation at one fixed point in time naturally yields less powerful results than an analysis that estimates the relationship over time. The question “Does ethnic fractionalization increase the probability of civil war?” is likely best answered by instead directly approaching the question “Does increased ethnic fractionalization over time increase the probability of civil war?”
A second problem is that many countries in the dataset are coded in terms of “citizenship fractionalization” rather than ethnic fractionalization, and there is no consistency or rationale for this coding. For example, Finland – according to the data – is considered more fractionalized than Sweden because the 6 percent Swedes in Finland are counted as an ethnic minority, whereas all Western Europeans in Sweden are considered part of the ethnic majority. So Swedes in Finland increase the fractionalization in Finland, but Finns in Sweden decrease the fractionalization in Sweden. Or in other words, if a Danish family moves to Finland, it will increase Finland’s fractionalization, but if the same family moves to Sweden, it will decrease it.
New York looked very beautiful on the lower part around Broad and Wall streets where there is never any light gets down except streaks and the damnedest looking people. All the time I was there I never saw anybody even grin. There was a man drawing on the street in front of the stock exchange with yellow and red chalk and shouting ‘He sent his only begotten son to do this. He sent his only begotten son to die on the tree. He sent his only begotten son to hang there and die.’ A big crowd standing around listening. Business men you know. Clerks, messenger boys. ‘Pretty tough on de boy.’ Said a messenger boy absolutely seriously to another kid. Very fine. There are really some fine buildings. New ones. Not any with names that we’ve ever heard of. Funny shapes. Three hundred years from now people will come over from Europe and tour it in rubber neck wagons. Dead and deserted like Egypt. It’ll be Cooks most popular tour.
Wouldn’t live in it for anything.
What can American educators learn from Finland, South Korea, and Poland? asks Amanda Ripley in her latest book. Ripley points out that good teachers lead to better schools that can be given more autonomy. This creates a virtuous cycle, where greater autonomy further improves the quality of the education that the schools provide. However, this is something we already know. There is also virtually a consensus regarding the proposition that focusing on underachieving students in general increase average educational outcomes.
But Finland, South Korea, and Poland have other important things in common that probably explain part of their culture with respect to education, which Ripley should spend more time investigating. These three countries are very homogenous, fairly small, and have in modern times been occupied, fighting wars on their own soil, and/or threatened by attacks from foreign powers.
… I certainly enjoyed myself the evening I was there and you may be assured I shall repeat the offense as often as I can or you will allow me. That cake and coffee couldn’t be beat. I am like a girl that once boarded where I did. She said there was nothing better than cake but more cake. I heartily agree with her. It makes no difference about the variety just so it’s cake.”
- Harry S. Truman
“Meeting Roosevelt was like uncorking your first bottle of champagne.”
- Winston Churchill
“A group X of students a group Y of professors stand in the yard. Each student throws a tomato at one of the professors (and each tomato hits its intended target). Consider the function y= f(x) from X to Y that associates with each student x the target y of his or her tomato. The image of f consists of those professors that are hit.”
Many students at American universities are familiar with the name Mudd. Not only is there the Harvey Mudd College; there are also numerous Seeley G. Mudd buildings, libraries, and centers named after Harvey’s brother. At the University of Southern California and Columbia University there are also the Seeley W. Mudd buildings, named after their father (although it was actually Harvey Mudd who attended Columbia and later was a dean at the University of Southern California).
You must certainly at least once have wondered: are Harvey S., Seeley G., and Seeley W. Mudd related to Samuel A. Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth’s leg? The answer is: yes. Seeley G. and Harvey S. Mudd are great-great-great-great-great-grandsons and Seeley W. Mudd great-great-great-great-grandson of Henry “Harry” Mudd. Samuel A. Mudd is the great-great-great-grandson of Henry Mudd’s older brother, Thomas Mudd, Jr. It is a small world after all.
During a seminar on climate change and optimal discount rates, professor Joseph Stiglitz reminds himself of an anecdote:
“Two planets meet. The first one asks: ‘How are you?’
‘Not so well,’ the second planet replies. ‘I’ve got the Homo sapiens.’
‘Don’t worry,’ the first planet says, ‘I’ve had it before. It doesn’t last long.’”