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Whether or not blacks are more alpha than non-blacks are (with Asians as the most beta and whites and Hispanics in between) is a perennial topic that crops up across the game-oriented sections of the blogosphere. I’m inclined to think they tend to be, based on higher levels of extramarital sexual activity, a greater number of sexual partners, and consistently higher levels of reported self-confidence among blacks, as well as regular personal experience. Further, hip hop celebrates alpha traits far more than other genres of music do. Of course, that’s not the only take, as n/a has demonstrated here in previous comment threads.

In a previous post discussing the relationship between fecundity and promiscuity, the unsurprising fact that black men are the least likely to have a single lifelong partner was presented. The percentage of men, by race, who report having had exactly one female partner since age 18 is replicated here:

Whites — 20.4%
Blacks — 8.9%
Hispanics — 18.0%
Asians — 38.7%

The percentage of women, by race, who have had one male partner since age 18:

Whites — 32.7%
Blacks — 22.2%
Hispanics — 33.4%
Asians — 40.8%

Men consistently report having more sexual encounters than women do, as the higher percentage of self-reported monogamous women across the board illustrates. The relative racial ordering is essentially the same for women as it is for men, however, with blacks being the most promiscuous, Asians being the least so, and whites and Hispanics falling in between the two.

I am instinctively interested in ethnic differences among whites. Presumably, those of northwestern European ancestry come closest to the Victorian ideal–with the natural exception of the vulgar Irish, of course!*–while those tracing their heritage back to southern and eastern Europe are relatively promiscuous. The following table** shows the percentage of men, by ethnic group, who have had one partner since age 18. The female pattern again mirrors that of men, with proportionally higher levels of monogamy reported for each group:

Ethnicity Monogamy %
Dutch 29.3%
English 23.2%
Scandanavian 21.7%
German 19.9%
Eastern European 19.9%
French 17.5%
Italian 15.4%
Jewish 15.3%
Irish 14.7%
American 11.6%
Southern European 11.1%

The three immigrants to the US from Holland I know are all actively religious and socially conservative. Given the Netherlands’ reputation as being the most secularized, socially liberal country in the world, these revelations surprised me on the three separate occasions I became aware of them. That’s unscientific anecdote, of course. Is there any evidence that the Dutch who come stateside are fleeing from what they consider societal decay?

Turns out my preconceived notion of less committed Eastern Europeans is a little off the mark. As a group, they are indistinguishable from Germans. The superciliousness directed at southern Europeans and those base Hibernians is justified, however! The demographic change the US has experienced over the last half century has made concerns about ethnic differences among whites pale in comparison to the differences between whites and non-whites, but still today it is understandable why members of the US’ founding stock resisted Irish and Italian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As the most socially liberal group in the US, Jews live the libertine lifestyle they tend to have few qualms with. The orthodox, comprising a little less than one-tenth of the total population, are much more monogamous (43.3%) than those of conservative, reform, or non-religious backgrounds are.

“Americans” are the Appalachian whites of the McCain belt; the southerners who laid the groundwork for contemporary black pathologies in the purview of Thomas Sowell, as explained in Black Rednecks and White Liberals; the descendants of the Ultster Scots who came from the Borderlands to settle in the American Backcountry during the middle of the 18th century. And the variance in their behaviors relative to those of other whites shows up in contemporary ways just as it would be expected to.

GSS variables used: ETHNIC, NUMMEN, JEW, SEX(1)(2), NUMWOMEN, RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10), HISPANIC(2-99)

* I am partially Irish and thus entitled to a little (uncharacteristic!) self-deprecation.

** Those who simply identify their ancestry as “American” make up the category of the same name. Those of Czechoslavakian, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, or Russian descent comprise the Eastern European category. Scandanavians are made up of those who trace their ancestry to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, or Finland. The Southern European category is comprised of those who originally came from Greece or the former Yugoslavia. English includes those of Welsh descent, and German includes those who came from Austria.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. re: the dutch, most of the descendants of dutch settlers probably assimilated into WASPs. the main exceptions would probably those in dutch reformed churches, especially in southwest michigan. in contrast, i assume catholic dutch (a large minority in the netherlands) would assimilate into the dominant catholic ethnic groups (irish, german, italian). so you're probably seeing a selection effect whereby those with dutch remembrance/identity are those who still hew to the reformed religion. it's as if the missouri synod lutherans were the only german americans with a strong sense of germanness.

  2. Further, hip hop celebrates alpha traits far more than other genres of music do.

    Country & Western can be quite Alpha, especially the more traditional variations.


  3. Stereotypical Country lyrics are about how bad life's been going. Stereotypical Western lyrics are about how great it is being outdoors in the Southwest. I can't think of any Country/Western songs where the essential theme is that the singer, identified by name, is an awesome person. I could easily be missing something, though, so feel free to correct me.

  4. "I can't think of any Country/Western songs where the essential theme is that the singer, identified by name, is an awesome person."

    Well of course the rappers must inform the world of their greatness. Otherwise no one would have any intimations of it at all. They'd just see some 6 ft of toxic waste standing and grimacing.

    Many cultures have bragging songs in their folk history. I believe there is a brag song about Daniel Boone–or was it Davy Crocket? No, no — it was, John Lennon. I Am the Walrus.
    The Walrus was really something in the 60s, and if you were in with the Walrus, you had it made in the shade, dude.

  5. Although I agree with Razib's comment in the main. I know a Dutch guy – actually my brother-in-law – who is a conservative Catholic, and seems to hold traditional views on marriage and fidelity. He was born and raised in Western Holland, and has nothing good to say about Amsterdam.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    When I think of people of Dutch ancestry, I think of Michigan Calvinists. I have a somewhat dutch-identified friend who teaches at a christian college there. Razib beat me to it, too bad.
    What about the descendants of the New York dutch? I seem to remember that Hairspray reserved special scorn for the dutch-surnamed (or at least that was my impression) Velma von Tussle. Is there an important dutch community on the east coast?

  7. Van Burens? Roosevelts?

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    There's plenty of societal decay in Holland/The Netherlands if you know where to look. Trust me, as a citizen of this country for almost my entire life now, this prevailing perception of this perfectly free, liberal and tolerant/open society is pretty much a myth. Yeah, you can smoke marijuana – whoop-dee-doo. There are many Americans I wager who make the trip to us just for that – but if that's your entire barometer for how a society should be, well…

    There's almost zero political activism and there's a general apathetic, feel-good clout of irresponsibility. The people also seem to have forgotten reasonable restrictions of government interference into their lives and indeed seem to be championing for the nanny state.

    Perhaps the average Dutch feels right now I'm coming down too hard on their country- but then they're always allergic to anything bad being said about their country – especially when there's a modicum of truth to it.

    Of course, it could be a simple case of 'the grass is greener on the other side'.

  9. The only self-identified person of Dutch ancestry I've ever known has a rack like Shoshanna Lonstein. That's good news for the guy she has a 30% chance of being monogamous with.

    Whatever happened to the Dutch? They were a world superpower in the early days of colonialism and now their nation has been reduced to being the place you go to smoke weed?

  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Stereotypical Country lyrics are about how bad life's been going. Stereotypical Western lyrics are about how great it is being outdoors in the Southwest. I can't think of any Country/Western songs where the essential theme is that the singer, identified by name, is an awesome person. I could easily be missing something, though, so feel free to correct me.

    Rapping about how awesome you are, which I believe is the point you're trying to make, is not "Alpha" by any stretch of the imagination. "Pathetic" and "infantile" are much more appropriate terms.

    Whatever the lyrics may be, traditional C&W often upholds traditional values such as family, hard work, loyalty and patriotism. All things which can fairly be termed "Alpha." In addition, in my somewhat limited experience male country singers often have a commanding – Alpha – stage presence. Steve Sailer's even noted that they tend to be tall.


  11. Loyalty to a higher authority, including patriotism, is not alpha. Being a higher authority is alpha.

    Hard work is not alpha. Having other people work hard for you is alpha.

    (Having a large family is alpha, on the other hand — especially going by number of descendants.)

    I feel like you're assigning a positive connotation to the term "alpha", and reacting when it's not applied to your preferred genre of music. That isn't justified. "Alpha" is not necessarily positive. Oftentimes, "alpha male" is just a clinical way of saying "big jerk", anyway.

  12. The percentage of men, by race, who report having had exactly one female partner since age 18 is replicated here:

    How different are the hispanic and white age distributions? Does that amplify or reduce the difference between the two?

    After all, if you asked the question by age bracket, you'd see a decrease in the number who'd had exactly one partner with age (except possibly at the very youngest age, if there were a significant number of virgins in the population).

  13. In regards to rap:

    I've noticed most of the lyrics are just stating how great the rapper is. That's basically it. Essentially, every rap song can be translated like this:

    "I am great/I am great/You know I'm great/I'm better than all the other rappers/I get mad bitches/What what/I am great/This is witty/Look how witty I am/I have the best lyrics/I am great"

    Shouldn't there be an external metric besides the given rapper's bragging that defines greatness?

  14. I wonder how much the Irish and Hispanic rates are determined by age of first marriage. I just can't square Irish men being heedless libertines. (Would it be such! Ha, ha, ha.)

    It has been noted that Irish Catholic men tend to marry later – significantly later – than the population at large. Having more sex partners post 18 could be a logical consequence of this fact. Irish Catholic men may be afraid of marriage but, c'mon, the drive really can't be suppressed.

    Likewise, Hispanic men do marry earlier than the average. It is also noted that there is a lot of divorce and illegitimacy among Hispanics. More than in the population at large. Could be that of those Hispanic men whose marriage doesn't fall apart most remain monogamous, a surprising fact buried in the larger catastrophe that is Hispanic family breakdown.

    Just guessing.

  15. Peter,

    I suppose country emphasizes alpha relative to a lot of progressive/alternative rock, folk, and fusion, which all tend to be whiny and melancholy, but it has nowhere near the game-type alpha that rap does.


    Yes, Amsterdam is the 'exotic' destination of choice for guys in their twenties who are seeking an extended indulgence in hedonism. "Dude, whores are legal there and they're clean!"

    Any idea if there are significant numbers of emigrants who leave out of frustration or intolerance of what you describe?


    I often wonder the same about Scandanavia, especially Sweden and Norway.


    I haven't looked at how age plays into the distributions yet, keeping it consistent for all groups up to this point. I plan on doing so in the future, though. As it stands currently, younger groups look relatively less promiscuous than they really are, because they've had less time to accumulate partners.


    I don't have a discriminating taste when it comes to rap, but beat is really important.


    Interesting thought. Unfortunately the GSS doesn't address age at first marriage.

  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    If you consider that somewhere around 20% of white men are monogamous and 30% of women are monogamous, it changes your perspective on sexually transmitted infection rates. That is STI's are only circulating among those who are not mutually monogamous. Obviously the data presented by AE don't show what percentage of monogamous folks have a monogamous partner, however, life experience tells us the percentage is greater than zero and less than 100. Since rates of infection are based on total population even though the total population is not participating, that means the rate of infection among those participating is even higher.

    So even though 1 in 40 blacks in New York is HIV+, the rate is actually higher for those with multiple partners. Given the rates and proportions, it would be possible to calculate the much lower white infection rate which for some unknown reason, the NYC dept. of health chose not to include in their list of fun facts.


    "Approximately 1 in 70 New Yorkers is infected with HIV, but the proportion of people in different groups who are infected varies widely:

    1 in 40 African Americans.
    1 in 25 men living in Manhattan.
    1 in 12 black men age 40-49 years.
    1 in 10 men who have sex with men.
    1 in 8 injection drug users.
    1 in 5 black men age 40-49 in Manhattan.
    1 in 4 men who have sex with men in Chelsea.

    The epidemic is increasingly affecting women, who now constitute a third of new AIDS cases – up from 1 in 10 at the start of the epidemic. More than 80% of new AIDS diagnoses and deaths are among African Americans and Hispanics. Black men in New York City are 6 times more likely to die of AIDS than white men; black women are 9 times more likely to die of AIDS than white women. Hispanic men and women are 4 times more likely to die of AIDS than white men and women."

  17. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Yes, Amsterdam is the 'exotic' destination of choice for guys in their twenties who are seeking an extended indulgence in hedonism. "Dude, whores are legal there and they're clean!"

    Or they can just hop a plane to Providence. Due to an unintentional loophole in the law, massage parlors in Rhode Island are legally allowed to offer "Full Service."


  18. @ AE:

    "I don't have a discriminating taste when it comes to rap, but beat is really important."

    I grew up listening to a ton of rap. Ironically, despite my racial views, I still listen to it sometimes. I try to ignore the lyrics though (mostly it's just gibberish or bragging about getting ho's).

  19. "
    It has been noted that Irish Catholic men tend to marry later – significantly later – than the population at large. Having more sex partners post 18 could be a logical consequence of this fact. Irish Catholic men may be afraid of marriage but, c'mon, the drive really can't be suppressed.

    Thats probably it, although – speaking as 100% Irish, i.e. from the Island – I think we are not so much *afraid* of marriage as much less likely to get divorced.( I cant speak for Irish Americans).

    Ergo when you marry, that's it. The thing is to spread the wild oats and then settle with the woman of your dreams, or the one you settle for if time is running out, or the supermodel if you get rich. Thats my plan. The last one.

    Other ethnic groups marry earlier, and although marriage means less to those libertines, it is still probably true that marriages last longer – in general – than a non-contractual relationship, even one where people live together.

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Audacious Epigone: Haven't done any research into the reasons listed by emigrants for leaving the country.AFAIK, Dutch like to cling to their own country the same way Americans do. There's still some friction between so-called 'foreign' people (categorized under the broad banner of 'allochtoon') and the indigenous Dutch ('autochtoon'). These consist mostly of lower-class people from Marocco and Turkey. Knowing some Turkish people myself, they feel Dutch have this propensity to form a kind of 'closed circle' – where a Turkish immigrant is only allowed to engage in up to a point. Dutch, being mostly disarmed and lacking a second amendment, like to use words as their primary method of warfare. Indeed, where Germans only know a few possible slurs or insults – 'schweinehund' – this Lower-Germanic dialect we call 'Nederlands' ('Dutch language') almost has as many slurs as they do verbs. And needless to say, they get used – often under the banner of 'free speech' – a common slogan heard is 'Allemaal het land uit' (which translates to: 'Every foreigner needs to get the hell out'). Indeed, Dutch journalism seem to be extremely proud of their polemics or demagogic editorials – there's a kind of collectivist attitude that there are betters above you and you should just shut the hell up lest you want to incur the wrath of your 'benefactors' – whether they be politicians, doctors, economists and so on.

    Now, I'm sure you'll be able to recognize some similarity here between the ethnic Mexico-United States situation and the Netherlands/Marocco/Turkey situation. Both sides have valid arguments, but the problem I see really is that the politicians allow this influx of immigrants into the country. Some reasons could be:

    1) to prove to themselves that the 'melting pot' theory / multiculturalism has worked in the end
    2) create the perception of overpopulation
    3) create some kind of class/race struggle between predominantly WASP Dutch (although I would argue the vast majority of Dutch subscribe to Secular humanism rather than Protestantism) and the Muslim immigrants. A frequent complaint of Dutch people is the 'mosques' popping up – Dutch really had this inclination to ride the wave of 9/11 hysteria and seeing a Muslim bogeyman under every tree. Several politicians exploit (or exploited) this populist fear to the max – such as Ms. Hirshi Ali (who, I should note, quickly immigrated to the United States soon after her debut in The Netherlands and was employed by a neo-conservative think tank) and Geert Wilders (he has been on Fox News a couple of times – this is a typical reactionary in the vein of a Rick Santorum).

    Thus you could make the argument that in many ways, this 'liberal' image (and I'm just using liberal right now in the most broaded sense) really masks a lot of ethnic segregation and xenophobia.

    Anyway, I hope I didn't sound too overly pessimistic – it isn't like there are any lynch mobs going on or anything like that. I don't really consider myself Dutch and mostly look at it from an outside perspective.

  21. I think Sowell got it wrong in attributing 'contemporary black pathologies' to the Scots-Irish. To me, there seems to be a more logical connection to the 'distressed cavaliers and indentured servants' from the south of England.

    Surely both groups contributed, but the Scots-Irish were much less likely to have contact with large numbers of blacks.

    I draw my ideas from reading "Albion's Seed" whereas it seems that Sowell drew his conclusions based more on "Cracker Culture".

  22. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Some lyrics from hit songs my male country singers:

    "I may be a real bad boy, but baby, I'm a real good man."

    "I'm the only hell my mama ever raised."

    "If you see me coming, you better step aside. A lot of men didn't. A lot of men died."

    "Well, I've been kicked out of might near every bar in town. I've been locked up for driving 120 through town."

    "He drank pearl in a can and Jack Daniels black
    Chewed tobacco from a mail pouch sack
    Had an old dog that was trained to attack sometimes
    He'd get drunk and mean as a rattlesnake
    And there wasn't too much
    That he would take from a stranger."

    I could go on all night.

  23. Great post.

    I have never heard of the term "one partner pony."

  24. News you can use.

  25. PS,

    Thanks for that. I assume you do not consider yourself Dutch because you were born elsewhere? I understand that just about everyone in the Netherlands speaks English, so that doesn't tell me much.


    Great point. When disease rates of transmittable diseases are reported, it is at the total population level, but what is more interesting is what the rate is among those who engage in the behaviors known to transmit the diseases. That sexually inactive adults who do not use needles are not HIV positive is obvious yet it creates the perception that AIDS is less transmittable than it actual is.


    It's been awhile since I've read Sowell's book-length essay, but doesn't he argue that contemporary urban black culture tended to adopt Scots-Irish ethos in the 20th century, when there was more contact between the two than was the case in the 18th and 19th centuries?


    Country is more 'alpha' and celebrates masculinity more than other non hip-hop genres do, but those sorts of dominating messages are ubiquitous in rap while just present in some country. Just as conservative white men have more in common culturally with black men than liberal white men do, country is probably lyrically closer to rap than indie or 'emo' is.

  26. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Audacious Epigone: I'm half Dutch/half Italian – was actually born in Rome, Italy – but my mother (being Dutch herself) decided to emigrate back to her home country shortly after. So I never really felt any need learning the Italian language. To all intents and purposes I'm Dutch now because the Italians still have mandatory service and at the age of 18 you have to make the decision to choose between a fixed Dutch nationality or Italian. If the latter, you have to apply for mandatory service in Italy. If the former, they take your Italian passport – so you're basically 'excommunicated'/'outlawed'.

    Now, the funny thing about Turks and Morrocans is they get to keep both passports unconditionally – so they're both of Turkish/Morrocan nationality and Dutch. This allows for some flexibility when emigrating – several politicians who (for want of a politically correct way to say it) are against the immigrants have called for various measures to curtail this double-nationality, double-passport phenomena.

  27. Just as a sidenote: just figured out Italy has stopped mandatory military service starting in 2005.

  28. Anonymous [AKA "KT"] says:

    I was directed to this while looking for information on stereotypes in music. I have peeked around at your blog – it is audacious – and there are some very interesting discussions. As a first-time commenter, I hope that my comment will respect the intent of your blog, even though I am taking a bit of an issue with a stereotype presented here. Rather, let's just say I'm offering perspective.

    I am compelled to discuss a somewhat lazy characterization of hip-hop lyrics that is often used. It is unfair to state that the presence of the extremely alpha-type "I'm awesome" lyrics are ubiquitous in hip-hop, as opposed to country. This comes across as an over-simplification used to justify a perception (or to defend country music).

    There's a long-standing discussion about how the (mainstream) music industry molded rap into its pop form – that which permeates radio, music videos, and other highly-visible media – to define an extremely limited and marketable stereotype of black people, especially black men. The boasting, misogynist, thuggish character that comes to mind is an image that was comfortable to sell. (Analyzing the "why" in this case is very interesting and beyond my ability to be delicate and accurate with words.) This point is partially proven by the way some comments on this blog wave the hip-hop flag to defend stereotypes – it's a very comfortable position to take.

    Popular rap music is a product with a fancy wrapper, just like anything else that stands to make a profit. If it's been "wrapped" to fit ideas that people already have, well that's just lubricates the sale, doesn't it? It is sold and bought by just as many non-black people as black people, if not more. I urge you to consider this when equating popular rap music with black people. (i.e. the rap music that I see and hear says this and looks like this, therefore black people are this way)

    There are many successful and prolific, though less exposed, rap artists with a very different style. There's a whole world outside the obvious, just as with all styles of music. Someone who doesn't listen to hip-hop would not likely be familiar with this because most of what we just 'happen upon' is being pushed on us, sold to us. Someone paid a lot of money to expose us to anything we hear or see without explicitly seeking it out.

    I've always found it fascinating how "pop" versions of rap and country have a lot common. Even in cases where lyrics do not tell a "beginning, middle, and end" story, many of both types of songs have strong storytelling elements – a point-of-view, and a setting and character that back up the POV. The POV is very strong, usually expressed by a character that is almost a broad voice for a lifestyle. Songs tend to be an expression of how someone fits into, defines, or even champions, a lifestyle or cultural persona. "I'm a REAL country boy/gal. Let me explain to you how country I am." "I am a truly from the streets. Listen to my lifestyle credentials." Both genres are extremely stylized.

    These genres so potently represent slices of culture that I often hear people say, "I like all types of music except country and rap." Or perhaps they'll pick one genre or the other; either way, I always get the feeling they associate those genres with the more mainstream sound, making them easy to dismiss if they don't represent your "lifestyle." All in all, with both genres, we're not really talking about music. We're talking about marketing and image. Weird.

    If it helps anyone to understand what I'm saying, I'm a white woman who loves all sorts of music, so I really have nothing to defend here (i.e. I'd like to think I am being somewhat objective). I tend to prefer the less-packaged versions of all genres but it's just my independent streak. Sometimes a slick, corny song will do you right.

  29. KT,

    My hip hop credibility is mostly based on experience, but I spend a good deal of time in urban areas that are primarily black. I'm fairly regularly given demo albums from aspiring rappers with rap names that are pretty well represented by this auto-generator of potential nicknames. Sometimes I'll stick them in on the next drive, and they are usually even more 'extreme', especially with regards to violence, than the stuff I hear on fm hip-hop. But I've had multiple guys tell me they listen to underground hip hop and that it's different from the mainstream stuff, although I've never really inquired as to how, gathering that they are referring to stylistic differences more than anything else.

    Anyway, I don't claim to be anything close to an expert, but it is clear that the bumping I hear is usually the packaged, mainstream rap you're describing. As a whole, I think it is fair to say that rap is more alpha than any other musical genre–what would you place ahead of it? Further, most rap artists are black, and I presume blacks comprise a larger share of rap consumers than they do any other musical genre, save maybe gospel.

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