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Prisoners of birth: TEDx Whitefield

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A data-driven view of how our lives are shaped at birth. Our names, our time of birth, our place of birth -- all of these have a statistically significant impact on our futures.

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Prisoners of birth: TEDx Whitefield

  1. 1. All men are equal: It is NOT BIRTH, but virtue alone, that makes the difference. -- Voltaire
  2. 2. 2 My name starts with "A". Called early for all questions, submissions, etc.. at class. Often unprepared, struggled against classmates named "V…". But I learned to be prepared – always. But does the first letter of the name actually affect the marks? “ I WAS NAMED “ANAND” AT BIRTH
  3. 3. 3 2005 First letter marks A P V D S N K R B G M V A P D S K N B R G M 59.2% 58.9% 58.9% 58.8% 57.9% 56.3% 56.2% 56.1% 55.4% 54.5% 54.4% 66.5% 65.9% 65.8% 65.2% 64.3% 64.0% 63.4% 62.8% 62.6% 61.5% 61.1% 2011 First letter marks Source: Karnataka State Board exams (8 – 8.5 lakh students per year) COMPARE MARKS BY FIRST LETTER WHY does it matter? Highest Lowest
  4. 4. 4 COMPARE MARKS BY STUDENT NAMES Jain Harini Shweta Sneha Pooja Ashwin Shah Deepti Sanjana Varshini Ezhumalai Venkatesan Silambarasan Pandiyan Kumaresan Manikandan Thirupathi Agarwal Kumar Priya LINK
  5. 5. NAMES DO MATTER BUT NOT FOR REASONS I THOUGHT
  6. 6. 6 WHILE COUNTING NAMES, I SPOTTED SOMETHING STRANGE Name Count MANIKANDAN 9,778 PRIYA 8,399 VIGNESH 7,298 SARANYA 6,449 SUGANYA 5,463 SANGEETHA 4,640 SARAVANAN 4,022 16% higher 15% higher 13% higher 18% higher 18% higher 15% higher These ratios are very steady. If we plot them on a log-log graph, they form a straight line. 3.55 3.6 3.65 3.7 3.75 3.8 3.85 3.9 3.95 4 4.05 4.1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
  7. 7. 7 THIS IS ALSO TRUE OF CANDIDATE NAMES IN ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS Name Count NONE OF THE ABOVE 629 OM PRAKASH 478 ASHOK KUMAR 411 RAM SINGH 362 RAJ KUMAR 294 ANIL KUMAR 271 AMAR SINGH 248 MOHAN LAL 235 RAM KUMAR 224 BABU LAL 218 RAM PRASAD 213 JAGDISH 210 VIJAY KUMAR 207 RAJENDRA SINGH 196 VINOD KUMAR 195 SHYAM LAL 193 RAJESH KUMAR 186 SITA RAM 186 RAM LAL 171 ... WAIT… WHAT? 478 OM PRAKASHS?
  8. 8. 8 ARE DUPLICATE CANDIDATE NAMES COMMON? State Constituency Affected candidate Party Count Chattisgarh Mahasamund Chandu Lal Sahu BJP 11 Chattisgarh Bilaspur Lakhan Lal Sahu BJP 5 Delhi West Delhi Jarnail Singh AAP 3 Madhya Pradesh Rewa Janardan Mishra BJP 2 Uttar Pradesh Mathura Hema Malini BJP 2 Haryana Kurukshetra Raj Kumar Saini BJP 2 Madhya Pradesh Hoshangabad Uday Pratap Singh BJP 2 Maharashta Osmanabad Gaikward Ravindra Vishwanath Shivsena 2 Haryana Sonipat Padam Singh INLD 2 Tamil Nadu Salem Umarani S DMDK 2 Uttar Pradesh Unnao Anil Kumar SPI 2 Duplicate candidate names were very uncommon until 2014 – when suddenly, several constituencies had candidates with the same name as the sitting MP – making it more confusing for voters. The affected candidate and party (the ones who suffered because of the confusion) are listed. Note the absence of the largest party – INC.
  9. 9. 9 SPEAKING OF CANDIDATE NAMES… LINK
  10. 10. 10 … AND ALSO OF NAMES MENTIONED IN BOLLYWOOD MOVIES 10 Person Count Lata Mangeshkar 824 Asha Bhosle 810 Shakti Kapoor 589 Kishore Kumar 585 Mohammed Rafi 527 Sunidhi Chauhan 515 Alka Yagnik 451 Udit Narayan 435 Kader Khan 430 Sonu Nigam 405 Sameer 398 Asrani 397 Helen 395 Shaan 377 Aruna Irani 375 Anupam Kher 367 Shreya Ghoshal 357 Gulshan Grover 341 ...
  11. 11. POPULARITY FEEDS ON ITSELF SO YOUR NAME WAS INFLUENCED WELL BEFORE YOU WERE BORN
  12. 12. BUT IS THIS UNIQUE TO NAMES? FOR EXAMPLE, HOW ARE MARKS DISTRIBUTED?
  13. 13. 13 TN CLASS X: ENGLISH 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
  14. 14. 14 TN CLASS X: SOCIAL SCIENCE 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
  15. 15. 15 TN CLASS X: MATHEMATICS 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
  16. 16. MATHEMATICAL ABILITY IS INNATE WHAT ELSE IS INFLUENCED AT BIRTH?
  17. 17. 17 GENDER DIFFERENCE Do girls score more than boys, or is it the other way around? Gender is a known driver of performance. Girls generally score higher. There is considerable variation across subjects, however. The differences in sciences is minimal. But languages, commerce and economics give girls a significant edge. There is also a correlation between girls’ dropout ratio and their over-performance – indicating perhaps that the smarter girls tend to stay back in school. Subject Girs higher by Girls Boys Physics 0 119 119 Chemistry 1 123 122 English 4 130 126 Computers 6 137 131 Biology 6 129 123 Mathematics 11 123 112 Language 11 152 141 Accounting 12 138 126 Commerce 13 127 114 Economics 16 142 126 WHO SCORES MORE? BOYS OR GIRLS?
  18. 18. 18 HOW DOES PLACE OF BIRTH AFFECT PERFORMANCE? Coastal areas have a consistently better performance
  19. 19. YOUR BIRTHDAY ITSELF IS NOT RANDOM
  20. 20. 20 This is a dataset (1975 – 1990) that has been around for several years, and has been studied extensively. Yet, a visualization can reveal patterns that are neither obvious nor well known. For example, • Are birthdays uniformly distributed? • Do doctors or parents exercise the C-section option to move dates? • Is there any day of the month that has unusually high or low births? • Are there any months with relatively high or low births? Very high births in September. But this is fairly well known. Most conceptions happen during the winter holiday season Relatively few births during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, as well as New Year and Independence Day. Most people prefer not to have children on the 13th of any month, given that it’s an unlucky day Some special days like April Fool’s day are avoided, but Valentine’s Day is quite popular More births Fewer births … on average, for each day of the year (from 1975 to 1990) LET’S LOOK AT 15 YEARS OF US BIRTH DATA LINK
  21. 21. ARE LUCKY DATES FOR REAL? DOES THE SUN SIGN MATTER, FOR EXAMPLE?
  22. 22. 22 The marks shoot up for Aug borns … and peaks for Sep-borns 120 marks out of 1200 explainable by month of birth An identical pattern was observed in 2009 and 2010… … and across districts, gender, subjects, and class X & XII. “It’s simply that in Canada the eligibility cut-off for age-class hockey is January 1. A boy who turns ten on January 2, then, could be playing alongside someone who doesn’t turn ten until the end of the year—and at that age, in preadolescence, a twelve-month gap in age represents an enormous difference in physical maturity.” -- Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers SUN SIGNS Based on the results of the 20 lakh students taking the Class XII exams at Tamil Nadu over the last 3 years, it appears that the month you were born in can make a difference of as much as 120 marks out of 1,200. June borns score the lowest
  23. 23. 23 THE PATTERN IN INDIA IS QUITE DIFFERENT This is a birth date dataset that’s obtained from school admission data for over 10 million children. When we compare this with births in the US, we see none of the same patterns. For example, • Is there an aversion to the 13th or is there a local cultural nuance? • Are holidays avoided for births? • Which months have a higher propensity for births, and why? • Are there any patterns not found in the US data? Very few children are born in the month of August, and thereafter. Most births are concentrated in the first half of the year We see a large number of children born on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th of each month – that is, round numbered dates Such round numbered patterns a typical indication of fraud. Here, birthdates are brought forward to aid early school admission More births Fewer births … on average, for each day of the year (from 2007 to 2013) LINK
  24. 24. 24 THIS ADVERSELY IMPACTS CHILDREN’S MARKS It’s a well established fact that older children tend to do better at school in most activities. Since many children have had their birth dates brought forward, these younger children suffer. The average marks of children “born” on the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th etc.. of the month tend to score lower marks. • Are holidays avoided for births? • Which months have a higher propensity for births, and why? • Are there any patterns not found in the US data? Higher marks Lower marks … on average, for children born on a given day of the year (from 2007 to 2013) Children “born” on round numbered days score lower marks on average, due to a higher proportion of younger children LINK
  25. 25. WHAT AFFECTS OUR MARKS? BEHAVIOR OR BIRTH?
  26. 26. 26 NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT SURVEY FOR CLASS 8 (2014) What do the children in schools know and can do at different stages of elementary education? Have the inputs made into the elementary education system had a beneficial effect or not? LINK
  27. 27. 27 HAVING EDUCATED PARENTS HELPS MOST This table shows the % improvement in score due to each factor LINK
  28. 28. 28 WE ARE, IN OUR SMALL WAYS, PRISONERS OF OUR BIRTH HOW we’re called by parents WHAT skills we are good at WHAT gender we’re born as WHEN we’re born WHERE we’re born WHOM we’re born to OUR BIRTH DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE. LET’S BE THANKFUL

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