Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fascinating Statistics (amazing, I know)

The Search for 100 Million Missing Women - An economics detective story. By Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

I often claim to hate statistics, which is not entirely true. I hate DOING statistics, I hate statistics classes, and statistics textbooks. But some of the things that can be learned by combining statistics with other information--economics, demographics, even medical information--can be truly fascinating.

The article linked above is a good example. I have often heard of the "missing women" of Asia--a result of cultural ideals and prejudices that favor boy babies above girl babies. But what if it wasn't all cultural? What if it had--at least in part--a medical cause? By looking at the relationship between hepatitis B and birth gender ratios, an economics grad student named Emily Oster believes that perhaps as much as HALF of the overabundance of males in Asia is a result of hepatitis B infection. Isn't that fascinating?

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