Economic growth and the size of the ‘private sector’

26 Dec, 2016 at 20:32 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | 6 Comments

Economic growth has since long interested economists. Not least, the question of which factors are behind high growth rates has been in focus. The factors usually pointed at are mainly economic, social and political variables. In an interesting study from the University of  Helsinki, Tatu Westling has expanded the potential causal variables to also include biological and sexual variables. In  the report Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter (2011), he has — based on the ‘cross-country’ data of Mankiw et al (1992), Summers and Heston (1988), Polity IV Project data of political regime types and a data set on average penis size in 76 non-oil producing countries ( — been able to show that the level and growth of GDP per capita between 1960 and 1985 varies with penis size. Replicating Westling’s study — I have used my favourite program Gretl — we obtain the following two charts:

The Solow-based model estimates show that the maximum GDP is achieved with the penis of about 13.5 cm and that the male reproductive organ (OLS without control variables) are negatively correlated with — and able to explain 20% of the variation in — GDP growth.

Even with reservation for problems such as endogeneity and confounders one can not but agree with Westling’s final assessment that “the ‘male organ hypothesis’ is worth pursuing in future research” and that it “clearly seems that the ‘private sector’ deserves more credit for economic development than is typically acknowledged.” Or? …


  1. This is nonsense because the graph has a macro-economic quantity, GDP compared to a micro-economic quantity penis length (when erect I presume). And what’s the correlation with the average of both male and female organs, to be fair? Production for the GDP is not a sole masculine activity. Even when reduced to per capita, it makes no sense without taking the average of all the measured quantities.

    This latter measurable object is clearly in the private sector. It is about as stupid to make this comparison as to apply econometric details to try to explain about the Big Picture.

    • So, maybe we shouldn’t take the post so seriously …

      • I take my private endowment very seriously, especially since there is a small bit missing, but its not a part of my Gross Domestically Produced written work, which actually covers the whole of the Big picture!

  2. Is this what Keynes meant by “animal spirits”?

  3. He was referring to the use of alcohol as a stimulant for growth.

  4. Well penis length may be linked to hormones and external pollution such as plastic progesterone like compounds. Brain development should reasonably be assumed positive with GDP. It is wrong to think that there is no correlation between the two.

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