Height Matters In China

October 25, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Studies in the west have found that taller people make more money than shorter ones, on average, due to subconscious biases. In China the preference for height is explicit and institutionalized, writes The Economist:

  • In China your pay can, in part, be determined by your height. Taller security guards, for example, are offered more money than shorter ones because they are more intimidating.
  • However discrimination exists in fields where height makes no difference. Job postings will sometimes include a height requirement, such as for being a cleaner.
  • Even if a height requirement isn’t listed, Chinese applicants will note their height and weight on their resumes.
  • For women each centimeter of height above the mean leads to a 2% increase in pay.
  • The military’s preference for height has gotten to a point where soldiers are becoming too tall for the tanks they drive.
  • This prejudice is exacerbating income inequality. Taller people are more likely to come from wealthy backgrounds. They then get nicer jobs, and raise their children in an environment that allows them to grow even taller.

Read about the university that has a height preference for students, the regional height differences within China, and what this all means for the country over here.

Source: The Economist

How Marriage Affects Texting: A Case Study

October 24, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

A couple posted data about how marriage affected the text messages that the two sent each other:

  • After marriage, the frequency of the term “love” and “hey” fell, while the usage of “home”, “dinner”, and “ok” rose.
  • Surprisingly the two also stopped using each other’s first name, abandoning any form of greeting.
  • Before marriage the two texted between 3pm and 3am. After marriage they texted during working hours and rarely texted at night.
  • The differences mostly stem from the fact that before marriage, the couple weren’t sure of seeing each other every day, and so things such as “I love you” had to be said via text.

Read more about how the couple’s relationship evolved from dating, to the period of engagement, to marriage, and see some charts which may well generalize across most couples here.

Source: A Dash Of Data

The Economics Of Hot Pockets

October 23, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Sales of hot pockets are nose-diving. The excellent Venessa Wong looked at what went wrong:

  • In a time of increasing health consciousness consumers are turning away from the pastries famous for the gooey mix of meat and cheese within.
  • In response the makers of hot pockets tried to rebrand the product emphasizing the ‘premium’ cuts of meat and ‘real’ cheese contained within. It hasn’t worked.
  • A beef recall further dented the product’s reputation.
  • One of the biggest factors affecting sales however might be the expiration of extended food stamp benefits.
  • The frozen pockets are fairly economical, with each one costing less than a dollar, making them popular with lower income individuals.’
  • Hot pockets aren’t the only food affected. The expiration of federal subsidies is changing the supermarket landscape.

Find out about the failing Funny or Die marketing campaign, what executives have to say, and more over here.

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek

A 260 Km/h Ambulance

October 21, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Dubai is considering building the next generation of ambulances wrote Alex Davies:

  • The wealthy emirate is looking into Lotus Evoras and a pair of Ford Mustangs to act as emergency response vehicles.
  • With a top speed of 260 Km/h the “ambulances” should be able to get to the scene of incidents much quicker than typical vehicles.
  • Given that the cars don’t really have room to carry patients, they would instead be equipped with emergency medical equipment to stabilize patients until slower ambulances got to the scene.
  • Experts (sourpusses) point out that the money is being wasted entirely since after a certain point, response times actually matter very little in determining patient outcomes.
  • They also note that emergency vehicles travelling at several hundred kilometers per hour through a crowded metropolis could well create more patients than they help.

Read about the vehicles, what the government things, what the experts know, and more over here.

Source: Wired

The Economics Of The Mafia

October 20, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Roberto Saviano wrote about the economics of the mob in Italy:

  • New joiners earn as little as $2,500 a month.
  • Income growth is rapid though. Becoming the boss’s right hand man could make you $38,000 a month, and becoming second-in-command gets you $130,000 a month.
  • The groups offer insurance. Stipends go up if an individual has a disabled child.
  • If members are killed, then the family can choose to receive a lump sum of up to $260,000 or a monthly payment.
  • Hits aren’t particularly profitable. Murder bonuses begin at $2,600, and the killer is forced to relocate.
  • The mafia considers robbery and prostitution to be dishonourable so doesn’t really engage in it. It will take a percentage of profits from others engaged in the business though.
  • All in all the life isn’t particularly glamorous. Members are forced to hide their riches, live in tiny underground bunkers, and constantly worry about the lives of their loved ones.
  • People do it more for the benefits that are on offer, than the glamorous lifestyle.

Read about how the mob operates, why one individual was stricken that his jail sentence was only 8 years, and more over here.

Source: Vice

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Economics of Prejudice

October 19, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

The Economist wrote:

  • Anti-Semites have often claimed, for a large part of history, that Jewish people control the world of finance.
  • So much so that it seems that areas with a legacy of anti-Semitism avoid using finance.
  • According to a study, even today, areas in Germany where Jews were most likely to be sent to concentration camps are 7.5% less likely to invest in stocks, when compared to other Germans.
  • This is to their disadvantage – such individuals get lower returns on their savings, imposing a direct financial cost on them.
  • The authors conclude that “persecution of minorities reduces not only the long-term wealth of the persecuted, but of the persecutors as well”

It is perhaps important to note that this is “a cultural norm of distrust in finance that has transmitted across generations independently from anti-Semitism”. Read more details here.

Source: The Economist

What Is The Optimal Time To Show Up At A Party

October 17, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

An equation that tells you exactly when to arrive at a party to not be weird. What a ridiculous idea! Why, the only people who would use that are those who break out in a cold sweat wondering if they’ll be socially ostracized for being late, or awkwardly gawked at for being the first ones there. People who’ll map the location in advance to find the closest Starbucks so that they have a place to retreat too if no one else is there. People who will write a bulletin about it for an “economics” website so that they can easily find it in the unlikely scenario that someone invites them to a Halloween event.

*Ahem*. Walt Hickey wrote:

  • The chaps at FiveThirtyEight organized a crowd sourced experiment to figure out when people show up to parties.
  • They found that the median individual shows up to a party 58 minutes after it was meant to begin.
  • But it depends on the size of the party. In those that have fewer than 23 attendees, the median guest is only 29 minutes late.
  • Those with more than 25, the median person comes 70 minutes into the event.
  • As a general rule of thumb, if you want to be the median guest to arrive, show up 42 minutes late, allowing for an additional 4 minutes for every ten members attending.

Read the caveats about the data, the 9% of people who arrive before a party begins, and see some excellent graphs and visualizations, as well as additional trends here.

Source: FiveThirtyEight

The French Need The Chinese To Drink More Wine

October 16, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

More bad news about France’s economy from Kabir Chibber: sales of Bordeaux are cratering:

  • Wine from Bordeaux, a region in France, is responsible for half the value of French wine exports.
    • Sales have fallen 18% to $2.3 billion this year.
  • The fall is in part due to the Chinese government’s recent anti-corruption measures which discourage officials from giving or receiving expensive gifts.
  • French people as a whole are also drinking less wine – -consumption fell 7% in 2013 and has steeply declined since the 1980s.
  • This leaves the US as the biggest market for wine in the world.

Read more about France’s economic woes here.

Source: Quartz

Air Umbrella

October 15, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

We’re inventing force fields! What are we using it to protect, you ask? Tactical nuclear warheads? Strategic bits of infrastructure? George R.R. Martin?

No, as a society we’ve decided that the best use of this technology is to avoid a touch of rain. Michael Franco wrote:

  • An Air Umbrella on Kickstarter has raised $22,000 of its original $10,000 goal with 9 days to go.
  • It will use pressurized air to protect users from the rain.
  • It comes in three different versions and is expected to cost up to about $150.
  • The battery is nothing to write home about – it’ll last between 15 and 30 minutes.
  • Expected delivery is December, 2015.

Read about the project, how it works, and more over here.

Source: CNet

Bose Gets Beat By Dr. Dre

October 14, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Barry Petchesky wrote a piece that will make you feel for the poor souls at Bose:

  • As the NFL is being sponsored by Bose, the famous maker of noise cancelling headphones, players aren’t allowed to wear any other brand.
  • A player who wore a pair of Beats headphones was fined $10,000.
  • However there is reason to believe that Beats just paid the fine for him.
  • And anyway $10,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what the players get for wearing the brand.
  • This is probably why other players have since been seen prominently wearing Beats headphones even after the fine was announced.

Read more here.

Source: Deadspin