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March 13, 2003

Group evolutionary strategies, etc

Well, the comments about "group evolutionary strategies" led me to think a little. I don't think this is a new idea, but what are the effects, if it's a valid hypothesis, on welfare states?

In other words, welfare states do their best(?) in countries like Sweden, it seems, where the population is nearly ethnically homogenous. They don't do well in Brazil or the USA, where it isn't. One ethnic group (in the US, European-descended whites) don't want to "spend their money on blacks" for example. For those who would bring up Switzerland as a multi-ethnic welfare state, I don't think their welfare system is as extensive as Sweden or even neighboring Germany's. (correct me if I'm wrong)

Again, I don't think this is new, but it is one social hypothesis that we can actually see tested, I think. Europe is now importing huge numbers of legal and illegal immigrants from South Asia, the MidEast, and Africa. Many of these immigrants are on welfare. Now, even politicians like Schroeder are talking about reducing welfare. Why now? Is the economy THAT much worse than the malaise of the '70's? or '30's?

I wonder if it's because native German, French or Dutch citizens don't want their huge tax bills going to the "other."

Just some musings. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by david at 11:51 AM

jonah goldberg has argued that the fight against socialism is a strike for pro-immigrationists.... of course, multi-ethnic states usually just end up becoming spoils oriented rather than minimal states....

Posted by: razib at March 13, 2003 11:58 AM

I believe the Danes voted in a new government over just this problem.

Posted by: M. at March 13, 2003 01:17 PM

i like the new danish government-they address the national question. making immigrants marry other people raised in denmark (other immigrants or danes) is a good first step-they had a problem with chain migration where muslim settlers arranged marriages for their denmark born children with cousins born in the old country, preventing any step-wise assimilative process.

of course, the social democrats must have all the good minds, because i've listened to the conservatives interviewed, and they aren't very smooth....

Posted by: razib at March 13, 2003 01:56 PM

The higher the standard deviation in earnings ability would seem to increase the attractiveness of opting out of productive work and onto the dole for those on the lower tail end. This is because they compare their alternative not to a fixed standard, as economists usually assume, but a relative one, and the relative difference is greater the higher the difference between average and below average potential workers. It's like when a system moves from a mixed equilibrium, where people of all groups opt for the same strategy with various probabilities (dependent on their ability), to a separating equilibrium where people with sufficiently different ability have vastly different propensities of choosing various strategies. In the separating equilibrium, those giving see the result as a tranfer of wealth to others, while in the mixed equilibrium it's more of a 'there but for the grace of God' attitude towards recipients.

Posted by: eric at March 13, 2003 02:01 PM

Goldberg ignores the fact that a large poor immigrant population will push successfully for increased government spending for itself. Take a look at the yearly growth in California state medical spending for the poor as an example.

There's a basic problem with most welfare state comparisons: in order to have a big welfare state one first has to have a society that is successful enough to be able to afford it. So in order to achieve a big enough welfare state that will create incentives that lead to social pathologies the society already has to have demonstrated the capacity to industrialize and modernize.

Similarly, an ethnic spoils system can only happen where one of the ethnic groups generates enough wealth to be worth stealing.

We can't state what the effects of a welfare state would be on, say, a black majority population country because said country would first have to become wealthy enough to be able to afford the welfare state. I don't think even South Africa can afford a real welfare state.

Is there any country which has multiple ethnicities which are all very successful at close to the same level? In such a case I'd expect a welfare state to work more like it does in Sweden. The problem in welfare states is not the number of ethnicities. Its whether there are ethnicities that are already doing relatively poorly when the welfare state is introduced.

Posted by: Randall Parker at March 13, 2003 02:48 PM

Steve Sailer on Switzerland.

one note-sometimes the income distribution can be strange. in fiji, indians are wealth-generators and control the private sector, but also form the majority of the destitute and poor. native fijians tend to have minimum levels of subsistance in their collective villages.

Posted by: razib at March 13, 2003 02:53 PM

Since we are talking about group evolutionary strategies, I read once that among the gypsies it used to be okay to kill non-gypsies.

Posted by: Jon Wilkins at March 15, 2003 10:42 AM

gypsies have strong in-group morality, but little out-group morality for the gadje. a jewish friend told me that the gypsies saved a lot of jewish children during WW II since they scattered with such ease and were harder for the nazis to track.

Posted by: razib at March 15, 2003 12:20 PM

the second point was to caution about the generalization though :) just a note.

Posted by: razib at March 15, 2003 01:35 PM

Frank K. Salter is editing a book on this precise question. Here's an article I wrote about his work on this subject:


Posted by: Steve Sailer at March 15, 2003 06:06 PM

A long time ago a racialist white liberal (No, it is not a contradiction of terms!) said the same thing in AR...that the welfare State didn't really work in multiracial states that the minorities were not true liberal, etc.

Read the following links:



Posted by: L at March 15, 2003 08:29 PM