Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yellow Fever

As an American living in China you naturally tend to notice your fellow foreigners as you go about your life, and pay them slightly more attention than you would to a passing Chinese - something about being a minority I suppose. Naturally, you notice the large number of Chinese-American couples, and the extreme prevalence of the male LaoWai, female Chinese match, and you begin to wonder about the dynamics of interracial attraction and dating.

Well, wonder no more because someone better educated and more dedicated than myself has done the hard work for me. A new article in slate reports the results of an economist's study of speed-dating in a bar.

Unsurprising: Men value looks, and are reluctant to date a woman who is smarter or more ambitious. Women emphasize success and intelligence, and have no problem with being number 2.

Surprising: Men have little in the way of racial preferences, but women of all races prefer members of their own race. The prevalence of white man-asian women matches is explained by a Asian women having no aversion to white men, but being less likely to date blacks or hispanics.

Perhaps the greater prejudice shown by women stems from the fact that women, in general, have much more to fear from a prospective partner than a man (vis a vis rape, murder, assault), and this has the effect of bringing out racial preferences.

Men having less prejudice also makes sense in a way. I like to think I care about intelligence and personality foremost, but if I'm being cynical about my preferences I care far more about overall hotness than membership in a particular race.

Some film students in California have their own take on the phenomenon:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Woman Billionaires

Another notable development:

Six of the ten richest self-made women in the world are in China. That's impressive, and important. Nearly all the richest women on the US Forbes list inherited their money.

Given that China is in many ways much more sexist than the US, how can this be? Chinese people readily acknowledge that the vast majority of man would consider it a total loss of face to have a wife who earns much more, and such women have a terribly difficult time. But maybe that's a contributing factor - once your chances of marriage have been crushed by your success, maybe you decide to stick it to the man by becoming yet more successful.

Chinese Billionaires

Last year, there were 15. This year there are over 100. It's astounding, mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, and staggering. Of course, it could all come crashing down (as, if fairness, could any newly-minted billionaire coming off their IPO in the western world).

PetroChina is now bigger than Exxon Mobile. Alibaba raised almost as much as Google in it's IPO. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is now the largest bank by market cap. Supposedly (can't find the link) 5 of the 10 largest companies in the world by market cap are Chinese.

Certainly the composition of the Chinese market must be different than the US. China's economy is about 10.2 trillion USD (2006) if you look at purchasing power parity, and 2.2 trillion (2007) at exchange rates, while the US is north of 13 trillion. I suspect the US has many more companies that are very large, but not the giant state-run behemoths of China (both PetroChina, and ChinaMobile, for example, were government run and still partially government owned).

I've been thinking the amount of inequality must be much higher in China than in the US, given how a college grad here subsists on something like 1500-3000 RMB per month, and yet there are $100,000 (including import tax) BMWs plying the roads, but this study, cited by Yglesias, says I'm wrong.

I thought this must be bunk in view of what I see every day, and I thought the number of billionaires must surely be evidence of this, but I don't think so.
China's per capita (PPP) GDP of $7800 in 2006 is about 5.5 times less than the US total of $43,500. Given that China has about five times the population of the US, I'm tempted to think that those two factors should balance out, and the number of billionaires be about the same if inequality is also relatively the same, but China only has 1/4 as many. I suspect the fact that this study found inequality to be about the same in both countries has to do with the vast difference in wealth between the middle class (who are still poor relative to Westerners), and the peasants, who are dirt-poor. Of course, it's not that simple, and it all depends on how exactly the national wealth is distributed, and I really don't know all that much about it.

Interesting though. . .