accounting for emil’s outlier?

emil kirkegaard published an interesting paper recently — well, actually, he’s published a whole slew of interesting papers recently! — but i want to look at something in this one that he coauthored with john fuerst: Educational attainment, income, use of social benefits, crime rate and the general socioeconomic factor among 71 immigrant groups in Denmark.

it’s this chart right here which appears on page 10:

emil's outlier

the curious point on this chart is the flying outlier of lebanon. oftentimes exceptions prove the rule, but occasionally they’re indicators that something might be up. why do lebanese immigrants in denmark (many of whom, i take it from googling around, are actually palestinian refugees) do soooo poorly socio-economically when they don’t score so high on the islamic scale (presumably because about one-third of them are christians, if the joshua project is to be believed)?

emil is skeptical of the inbreeding-can-lead-to-social-and-economic-dysfunction theory, and that’s ok! skepticism is a good thing. but i think that he and john should take it into consideration in this instance. a study from the 1980s found that 16.5% of lebanese christians were in consanguineous marriages (and nearly 30% of lebanese muslims were). sixteen and a half percent is in the neighborhood of the cousin marriage rates in south-central italy, another population not especially known for its great ses achievements, so it’s maybe not surprising to find that the lebanese in denmark are socio-economically quite dysfunctional even though a large portion of them aren’t muslims. we see this pattern over and over again across the world: too much inbreeding (eg. cousin marriage) especially over time in a population and you wind up with social and economic dysfunction, corruption, rampant nepotism, etc., etc.

while it is true that all of the pops in the upper right-hand corner of the chart are majority muslims pops, what they also have in common is a long history of cousin marriage including very close (father’s brother’s daughter/fbd) cousin marriage. the lebanese — including lebanese christians — also fall into this group (although lebanese christians don’t marry their fbds much).

in fact, if you were to draw a horizontal line at .0 across the chart there, no long-term outbreeding population would fall above it. they all actually cluster in the lower left-hand corner of the chart (in other words, the most successful ses-wise): usa, canada, belgium, germany, finland, etc. and as you move upwards on the chart (i.e. away from ses success), you increasingly encounter pops that having been inbreeding for longer: russia, greece, india, china, bosnia, macedonia.

islam might correlate with poor ses in immigrant groups in denmark (and elsewhere), but i suspect that the extent of their history of inbreeding is a more direct cause of the dysfunctionality of these groups.

what the world needs is a good index of inbrededness (rates+history). am workin’ on it! (^_^)

btw, if you’re not regularly checking out the openpsych journals, you should be! “open access, free to publish, open peer review.” good stuff! (dunno why i don’t have them in my blogroll yet. need to do some updating to the ol’ blog here!)

previously: inbreeding amongst christian arabs

(note: comments do not require an email. not emil’s relation.)


  1. For those who want to play around with their favorite predictors, the data are public.

    If someone can produce a dataset with measures of inbreeding by country, then we can test it in the immigrant data. There are data for Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands.


  2. @emil – “If someone can produce a dataset with measures of inbreeding by country…”

    there are good data at the back of this paper – On the Adaptive Origins and Maladaptive Consequences of Human Inbreeding: Parasite Prevalence, Immune Functioning, and Consanguineous Marriage [pdf] – but the problem is those data lack historic depth. that’s a problem since we’re talking about evolutionary processes, which do take some time, so we need to know the mating patterns for pops going back 20, 30, 40 generations, not just for the current generation or one or two previous ones.

    i’m working on gathering historic data for mating patterns for various pops, but progress is necessarily slow since there’s only the one of me. *sigh* going forward, genetic data (runs of homozygosity) are going to be a big help! especially those from skeletal remains. (^_^)


  3. Another key thing to consider is selective migration. This is always an issue where immigration is involved – we could always be looking at a distinctly elite/bottom-barrel sample.


  4. What’s interesting is Egypt. It has been factically islamic since 7th century A.D. (as well as Syria, Iraq, Jordan), yet it is outlier. Maybe remnants of ancient glory?


  5. I know almost nothing about statistics and I don’t undertand this graph (but I’m not going to let that stop me making a comment).

    What makes Lebanon an outlier? In terms of vertical deviation from the best fit line it looks to be no more of an outlier than Thailand. Doesn’t the best fit line minimise a function of vertical distances? It’s an outlier in the sense of not belonging to one of the two clusters, but I don’t understand how that pertains to the relationship between the variables the graph shows.


  6. Strictly anecdotal: in Australia, there is a large problem with Lebanese organized crime. From the names, they appear to be Muslim. OC is common in many places, of course, but the Lebs in Oz seem different: they’ll drive down a residential street in broad daylight and fire into someone’s house. They’re often caught.

    Such ostentatious displays are not what other OC comes down to: shadowy groups, deliberately trying to avoid the law, with crimes described in the news as “a body was found…[in the some out of the way place]…”

    It’s like they’re …stupid? Show-offs? I don’t know what the word is, or if it is connected to the “outlier” data point.

    The Christians have been moving to North America since the end of the 19th century due to bad conditions in Lebanon (oppressed by Turks). Even the Muslims were leaving (bad harvests, poverty).

    They’ve ended up all over the world. The richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim, is from a Leb Christian background.


  7. When I said “what makes Lebanon an outlier?” I meant, “what makes you consider Lebanon an outlier?”. In case that was confusing.


  8. hbdchick
    “emil is skeptical of the inbreeding-can-lead-to-social-and-economic-dysfunction theory”

    “Another key thing to consider is selective migration. This is always an issue where immigration is involved – we could always be looking at a distinctly elite/bottom-barrel sample.”

    frau katze
    “The richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim, is from a Leb Christian background.”


    defining inbreeding = nepotism = us-and-them-ness


    higher average IQ than majority -> nepotism good
    lower or same average IQ as majority -> nepotism bad


  9. when i say nepotism good vs nepotism bad i mean for the group doing it not necessarily for the wider society i.e. us-and-them-ness works out better if you can compete with “them” than if you can’t.


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