Business

The penis factor - Wacky economics or does size really matter?

By Julian Richardson Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011    

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The size of the male sex organ could be a source of the current economic woes faced by some countries around the world.

This is based on an economic paper, released last week by the Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER), which identifies a strong correlation between the size of the penis among men in the population and the economic performance of countries.

However, it's an inverse relationship.

The paper explored the link between economic development and penile length in 121 countries — using a subsample of 76 from a total of 98 non-oil producing economies — between 1960 and 1985, and found that the average growth rates are negatively correlated with the sizes of male organs.

"Unit centimetre increase in its physical dimension is found to reduce GDP growth by five to seven per cent between 1960 and 1985. Furthermore, quite remarkable is the Þnding that male organ alone can explain 20 per cent of the between-country variation in GDP growth rates between 1960 and 1985," said the researcher Tatu Westling of the University of Helsinki.

Westling added: "Regarding the relative importance of political institutions in shaping economic development, it seems that male organ is more strongly associated with GDP growth than country's political regime type."

The data set of the study included income, investment, schooling and population statistics from 1960 to 1985. Data regarding the physical dimensions of male organs was said to be retrieved from an extensive number of sources, largely health authorities.

The researcher found that the size of the male organ varied considerably across countries at the end of the period, with the average being 14.5 centimetres (5.7 inches). The findings were that African and Latin American countries largely had above-average penile length; Asian countries were mostly below average and European countries were in between.

Westling at the end of the period under review found that the strongest economies were those where men had around average-sized penises.

"The GDP maximising size is around 13.5 centimetres (5.3 inches), and a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres (6.3 inches)," said the researcher.

According to the study, the country with the highest GDP per capita of US$19,723 in 1985 was Norway, which had an average penile length of 14.34 centimetres (5.6 inches). Zaire [now Democratic Republic of Congo], which had an average sized male organ of 17.93 centimetres (7 inches), had the lowest GDP of US$412 per capita. For reference purposes, Jamaica was found to have average penile length of 16.5 cm (6.5 inches) and relatively low GDP per capita of US$3,080 in 1985.

For illustration, the economist compared rival European countries France and Britain over the period.

"If France with its average size of 16.1 centimetres (6.3 inches) had male organs on par with United Kingdom's 13.9 centimetres (5.5 inches), French GDP would have ceteris paribus expanded by around 15 per cent more between 1960 and 1985."

Westling noted that the Þndings can only establish statistical correlations, not necessarily causalities. However, he did speculate on possible causes for discussion.

Among the probable causes was the issue of self-esteem and whether countries with 'small male organs' put more effort in economic development than countries with 'large male organs' which the researcher said may "exploit their nature-given, non-disposable groin-area endowments". Using a complex mix of mathematical formulas and charts, he suggested that countries could be divided into two groups: leisure-poor, high-GDP countries with small male organs; leisure-rich but low-GDP countries with large male organs. He said the former would correspond to Asia, the latter to Latin America and Africa, while Europe would be somewhere in between.

While Westling acknowledged that any interpretation of his economic paper would be "very tentative", he said that any statistical correlation "with explanatory power of 15 to 20 per cent" should be taken seriously and warrants more elaborate research.

Noted local Sociologist Dr Orville Taylor, while not being dismissive of the study, strongly suggested that the findings are mere correlation if the statistics are true. Of course, he said that there were numerous socio-political factors that impact economic performance.

"For years people have attempted to justify where people are based on their biological features, but it's a dangerous argument," Taylor told Sunday Finance.

"You may indeed find a correlation and I think it's a no brainer that it is an accepted biological fact that men with more sub-Saharan features have larger penises," continued the sociologist. "So, we are lagging behind (economically), but is that due to biology? Correlation does not mean there is a cause in the relationship."

However, one local economist actually said that the findings could well help to explain economic performance in countries.

Retired United Nations economist and educator Dr Davidson Daway reasoned that in countries where the male organ is large, resources are diverted into a pseudo-economy because it influences society to put focus in areas that are not important to development.

"When we expose ourselves to that type of thinking we limit ourselves to produce," said Daway. "It creates a concern and what that concern does is that it takes away from the real focus."

Daway said that the research shows that "we have to watch the social fabric of our region."

"There might be other factors (which impact economic performance) but that does not take away from the causational aspect," said Daway. "In order to keep a society together, we have to make sure that that society is in concert with its development."

Indeed, while critics such as Dr Taylor say any study on economic performance would have to look beyond biology for causes, Westling said in the introduction to his study that he was actually motivated to do the research because studies on economic performance largely lack biological and/or sexual considerations.

"The aim of this paper is to Þll this scholarly gap with the male organ. Hence, in contrast to much of the existing literature, economic development is viewed from a perspective quite novel," he said.

The researcher did not state specifically why he chose the review period but said earlier dates would have even been preferrable in order to "alleviate potential endogeneity issues". He cited that many countries gained independence between 1960 and 1985 and data was inaccessible for some review on earlier years.

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