11 Comments

Interesting observations! The Lockheed guy’s attitude is very common in NYC, but you’re entirely right that it isn’t so based in reality -- most people just always feel they never have enough

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World value survey trust data can be weird and counter intuitive. China has some of the highest social trust in the world, despite the cultural revolution brutality of "turn in your friends and family for reward!" and the ongoing CCP authoritarianism. Take away is that perceived economic factors can matter more than the actual facts of the matter on the ground that you'd think would really segment society. An maybe social diversity and media reporting matters too.

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Oct 15, 2023Liked by Sam Atis

I wonder if what's going on in the Japan case is there's a difference between how much people trust the ingroup vs. the outgroup, to the point that people have high (internal) social trust but don't think people in general (because of outgroupers) are trustworthy. For what it's worth, this study claims the Japanese have high trust of family and friends, low trust of foreigners, strangers, and people of other religions: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0095555

It's interesting to me that Taiwan is lower than Japan on the survey response you linked to, since in Taiwan too it's pretty normal to leave your belongings unattended, etc. But in Taiwan the uni that houses my language centre for example, forbids students from going out on their own on school-sponsored trips, as a safety measure. So I wonder if what's going on is here incongruity between the unconscious attitudes people manifest in their habits, and the reflective beliefs people form, e.g., in response to surveys or when developing policies.

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Oct 15, 2023Liked by Sam Atis

I have noticed the same thing about the depressed youth everywhere I go. This year I have travelled around most of Europe seeing friends and family, I did not meet one optimistic person.

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Lockheed Guy's attitude is similar in San Francisco too.

San Francisco downtown is insane, but neighborhoods are high variance. Some are almost completely sheltered from downtown madness.

Curious about Taiwan and Israel notes too.

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GDP and good outcomes are generally linked, but only generally. Compare Costa Rica and the US for GDP and is not close. Compare health, happiness, education, etc and it's not close but in favour of Costa Rica. I can't remember what the better-correlated-than-GDP thing was, but something like quality early public education.

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I'm pretty sceptical that health, happiness, and education are much better in Costa Rica and that it's not close.

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Yeah look, it turns out you're totally right on that front. Part of my point still stands.

Happiness index 6.58 (rank 23) vs 6.98 (16) in favour of US.

80.26 vs 79.74 life expectancy in favour of Costa Rica.

GDP per person US 79,399 (8) vs Costa Rica 24,923 (65).

I looked at social trust hoping I could bring that in and many measures were even, some in favour of the United States, particularly about trusting people in your neighbourhood (81.4% vs 58.6% answered "some"or "a lot").

So it's relatively even on the measures I mentioned - definitely not "it's not close". It's still fair to say that it's an example of GDP and good outcomes being uncoupled. As shown in the graph linked below, from $3k to $30k GDP per capita, there's a 10+ year variance for countries with the same GDP. Eg. Namibia $9k, 62.6 years and Cape Verde $7k and 75.7 years. There's obviously a relationship, but it's not super strong.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/life-expectancy-vs-gdp-per-capita?country=CRI~USA

Lesson for me: look things up before you comment.

My problem is that I've read something that was possibly about GDP being not a good indicator of how people are going in a country that compared the US and Costa Rica for the purpose of showing that another metric or causal factor was much more important than GDP when considering the outcomes of people. I think the causal factor had something to do with publicly funded blah and I can't remember what blah is.

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Sorry, the usual platitudes about Japan. Trust sure... But along world-leading depression, suicide rates, and diminishing birthrate.

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Oct 15, 2023·edited Oct 15, 2023Author

Aren’t those also fairly common tropes? Or is that the point you’re making?

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Suicide rate, definitely. But depression, no not really- depression is commoner in the US than Japan. Birthrate is dimishing pretty much everywhere. Japan's isn't all that far below the UK or the US.

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