Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Coming soon – GDP per cm, not just per cap

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-25

If the figures in this economics research paper stand up (ahem) on nation-by-nation economic performance, one wonders whether performance of individual companies might show the same correlation, … and intrusive x-rays might be used during hiring procedures, but hopefully not included in the company prospectus.

The research shows a relationship between average erect male member length and economic growth – an inverted U shape – with not-too-big, not-too-small, but just right (13.5 cm), leading to the best economic growth.

Imagine the spam: "Dear CEO – are you giving your stakeholders enough satisfaction?"  Imagine the econometric pages – we might get gory statistics on current accounts and budget balances per-cm as well as per-cap.

It’s not like it is only a minor effect:

Somewhat surprisingly, male organ was a stronger determinant of economic development than country’s political regime type at the Polity IV autocracy democracy spectrum.

The authors try to explore various reasons for this (including the male tendency to seek self-esteem in the wrong places, and they have interesting ties to gender equality, given the value women bring to the workplace:

First, could the size of male organ be non-linearly related to the value society put on women and thus aggravate economic development?  A brief observation of the data suggests that gender equality is less established at the extremes of the male organ distribution, namely in Asia and Africa.  This would be consistent with the nding that the the 1985 GDP and male organ experienced an inverted U-shaped relationship.  However, this does not reverberate well with the result that GDP growth between 1960 and 1985 and male organ are negatively associated.  Ignoring these contradictions it is also sensible to ask why penile length and gender equality would be even related in the rst place?

Of course, it’s econometrics, so there has to be some underlying maths, and something about competitive advantage of nations:

Third, in an evidently Freudian line of thought the notion of self-esteem might be at play.  In particular, male organ size s and income y could be considered factors in the aggregate ‘self-esteem production function’ f and hence aff ect utility u.  Assuming the following functional form and decreasing returns of self-esteem, namely u = f(y+s) and f'(.) > 0, f”(.) < 0, the ‘small male organ’ countries would gain more utility by expanding their economy than the ‘large male organ’ countries.  Actually the latter populations would simply exploit their nature-given, non-disposable groin-area endowments.

"non-dispoable groin-area endowments" – well non-disposable without medical intervention anyway – but it’s a bit of a m…, um, I was going to say… um, an awkward phrase to mix into economic conversations.  Oh well, that’d be nothing new.

However, on a more serious note, it is interesting to see self-esteem discussed as a driver of economic output – and of course, this would be independent of gender.  Do bosses make their employees less effective by belittling them or making them insecure?  Are executives and managers who are up-themselves and arrogant less effective than more reasonable folk.

The notion that self-esteem could be involved somewhere in the causal chain is useful – even if it does make bosses uncomfortable.

However, these findings entail one major caveat as they can only establish statistical correlations, not necessarily causalities. Hence to conclude that small male organs have driven GDP growth since 1960 is premature, however strong the correlation. Yet the results still suggest that if penile length is not the culprit, then some interplaying unobserved country or population characteristics could manifest itself in economic development. Be it as it may, any non-trivial statistical correlation with explanatory power of 15 to 20% should be taken seriously and warrants more elaborate research.

If this paper, by raising the importance of self-esteem in a workforce or the entire economy, leads to less workplace bullying, efforts by management to improve the self-esteem of workers, then the low-brow titallation and jokes (including of course, this post) will be a small price to pay.

See Also

  • Hat tip: The Economist "Free Exchange" blog: Size Matters
  • Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter?Helsinki Center for Economic Research Discussion Paper No 335, Tatu Westling, University of Helsinki, July 2011, ISSN 1795-0562. And yes, the paper is listed in with other papers with probably no smiles in them at all… titles like "Forecasting U.S. Macroeconomic and Financial Time Series with Noncausal and Causal AR Models: A Comparison" or "The role of city managers and external variables in explaining efficiency differences of Finnish municipalities".

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