New Social Science of Note

I try to keep up with some social science, partly for the amusement value, and partly because social science is sometimes useful for proving the obvious (which is also amusing). But I’ve been falling behind in posting highlights, so it is time to catch up.

First up, do you think it is really necessary to prove that good looking people enjoy a lot of advantages in life? Apparently this proposition requires empirical proof, and here it is, courtesy of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (yeah—I didn’t know this journal existed either):

Exploring the Impact of Male and Female Attractiveness on Occupational Prestige

Emanuela Sala, Marco Terraneo, Mario Lucchini, Gundi Knies


Traditionally, social scientists have studied socio-economic inequalities mainly by looking at the impact of individuals’ economic, cultural and social capital. Some scholars have recently argued that other types of resources, such as genetic and erotic capital, may also play a role in the processes that lead to the formation of social inequalities. Using a unique longitudinal dataset, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, this paper explores the impact of facial attractiveness on people’s socio-economic standing over the life course. Methodologically, we employ a set of multilevel Growth Curve Models. Two findings clearly stand out from our analysis. Firstly, facial attractiveness does matter, both for men and women, and secondly, its impact is constant over the employment history.

Golly, I never would have guessed this without social science.

On a more serious level, I’ve been saying for a while now that I’ll be curious to see in the coming years what the social science data may tell us about the new world of same-sex marriage—if social scientists dare or are allowed to look into the subject, because you can count on the subject being nearly as taboo and underground as group IQ research. (Some early attempts to study same-sex unions in the U.S. have been met with the usual ideological denunciation.) Anyway, Demography has just published a study of same-sex unions in Sweden, where same sex marriage has been legal for almost 25 years. Here’s the study and abstract, with the interesting parts highlighted:

Two Decades of Same-Sex Marriage in Sweden: A Demographic Account of Developments in Marriage, Childbearing, and Divorce

Martin Kolk & Gunnar Andersson

In this study, we provide demographic insight into the still relatively new family form of same-sex marriage. We focus on period trends in same-sex marriage formation and divorce during 1995–2012 in Sweden and the role of childbearing in same-sex unions. The period begins with the introduction of registered partnership for same-sex couples and also covers the introduction of formal same-sex marriage in 2009. We use register data for the complete population of Sweden to contrast patterns in male and female same-sex marriage formation and divorce. We show that female same-sex union formation increased rapidly over the period, while trends for male same-sex unions increased less. The introduction of same-sex marriage legislation in 2009 appears to have had little effect on the pace of formation of same-sex unions. In contrast, legal changes supporting parental rights in same-sex unions may have fueled the formation of female same-sex marriages as well as parenthood in such unions. Further, we show that divorce risks in the marital unions of two women are much higher than in other types of marriages. We find some convergence of divorce risks across union types at the end of our study period: male same-sex unions have the same divorce risk levels as opposite-sex marriages, and the elevated risks of divorce in female same-sex unions appear to have stabilized at somewhat lower levels than those observed in the late 1990s.

Readers can supply their own interpretations and extrapolations from these findings.

I found this chart especially interesting, and wonder if this will be the experience here:

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.