Tuesday, June 12, 2012

10-year Eurozone Bond Yields: January 1993-April 2012

Below, Corrections displays 10-year Eurozone Bond Yields from January 1993-April 2012 (click to enlarge).  Did Ireland's "austerity" measures work like Iceland's did?  10-year bond yields have fallen dramatically.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Religious Right Turns 33: What Have We Learned?

Jonathan Merritt writes an embarassingly wrong op-ed in The Atlantic:  The Religious Right Turns 33:  What Have We Learned? (June 8th, 2012).  In it, he attacks the Religious Right, arguing that the movement into politics of Evangelicals and the Religious Right has diminished interest in Christianity.

Economics has special ways of dealing with time-series theses like "The Christian Right got into politics, and their share of the population went down.  Therefore, it must have been because of the politics."  On its own, this has little empirical content:  post hoc ergo propter hoc.  But a good analysis can be convincing by showing parallel data.  We can examine other religions that didn't get into politics (or didn't change their relative immersion into politics), or look at factions of Christianity that went into politics more.

In other words, we can say "if that thesis is true, then it has testable implications."  Corrections offers two testable implications:

  • Other branches of Christianity haven't gone into politics as much as Evangelicals:  therefore, Evangelicals should be suffering the most.
  • Judaism, a religion strongly tied to the left for more than a century, has not changed its political position very much.  Therefore, it should be untouched by the last twenty years.
Obviously these aren't the only stories one can tell: Corrections is glad to entertain other testable hypotheses of Merritt's otherwise empty theory.  First, we use the Statistical Abstract of the United States to depict the proportions of different religions with a logarithmic scale (otherwise, Evangelicals, Muslims, and Jewish proportions are too small to distinguish) (click to enlarge).
One can see that Christianity and Judaism have declined while Athiests, Muhammadans, and Evangelicals have seen an increase in their proportions.  It would be easier to compare them all to their 1990 proportion, to see the change (click to enlarge):

This figure tells our whole story:  if being political has hurt Christians, then why has Judaism, which hasn't changed its political orientation seen a larger fall, while the subset of Evangelicals in Christianity seen the largest rise?  

As a note, it is true one can begin to tell stories (ex:  Evangelicals rose by draining other Christians while the rest left, Judaism has its own thing going on, etc.) to make sure Merritt's claim is devoid of testable hypotheses.  Such a tack would ironically and safely bring one's own politics into a religious (non-testable) sphere.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Balance Sheet of U.S. Households and Nonprofit Organizations 1949-2011

Below, Corrections displays the Balance Sheet of Households and Nonprofit Institutions in the United States from 1949-2011, in real 2011 U.S. dollars (click to enlarge).