For Economic Growth, Does Penis Size Matter More Than Political System?

In SuperFreakonomics Illustrated, we published this penis-flag chart in the context of a discussion about how ill-fitting condoms failed to protect men and women alike in countries including India:

How do Indian men measure up? While it isn't easy to conduct medical research on penis size, a few international studies do exist. The penis-enlargement company Andromedical compiled the available data and arrived at a ranking that shows average penis size in the countries surveyed. (Yes, several of your favorite countries will be missing.) Indian indeed ranks toward the low end. For those of you surprised to see France atop the list, it should be noted that the French data were compiled by French scholars.

The fact is that reliable penis-size data is notoriously hard difficult to come by get. Here’s one website that aggregates data from around the world, and here are its data sources.

Using those data, Tatu Westling of the University of Helsinki has written a paper called “Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter”?  Please do take this with a sizable grain of salt:

This paper explores the link between economic development and penile length between 1960 and 1985. It estimates an augmented Solow model utilizing the Mankiw-Romer-Weil 121 country dataset. The size of male organ is found to have an inverse U-shaped relationship with the level of GDP in 1985. It can alone explain over 15% of the variation in GDP. The GDP maximizing size is around 13.5 centimetres, and a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres. Economic growth between 1960 and 1985 is negatively associated with the size of male organ, and it alone explains 20% of the variation in GDP growth. With due reservations it is also found to be more important determinant of GDP growth than country’s political regime type. Controlling for male organ slows convergence and mitigates the negative effect of population growth on economic development slightly. Although all evidence is suggestive at this stage, the `male organ hypothesis’ put forward here is robust to exhaustive set of controls and rests on surprisingly strong correlations.

(HT: Otto Kässi)


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  1. SN says:

    I makes sense that the USA would be essentially average, considering it has far less of a common genetic background than other nations that might cause it to skew towards either end of the spectrum. Other nations represented here are more “closed” systems that would allow for such a phenomenon to occur over hundreds or even thousands of years. The USA, on the other hand, is a mixture of many countries.

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  2. jonathan says:

    It is amazing how many things correlate and how few are actually causal.

    Reminds me of a paper that found eating hot dogs correlated to an increase in a form of leukemia. But it found that eating something like 8-12 a week did, 13-18 didn’t, 19-24 did. That pretty much says the finding is meaningless but there is a correlation.

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  3. L says:

    The elephant in the room: What about Africa?

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    • M.M. says:

      Maybe I’m misreading it, but isn’t the paper saying that large penis size correlates with POOR economic development, and vice versa? If so, then if stereotypes hold true about male Africans, one should expect economic growth to be poor.

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    • pawnman says:

      It’s alluded to in this statement: ” a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres.”

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    • seb says:

      Your African Elephant has a problem problem is, not it’s endangerment due to poaching but the fact that Africa is a continent, with poor and rich parts, there is huge economic inequality.

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  4. Hector says:

    It’s logical, economic growth will affect the younger generations, more food and health advances will be aveilable, thus the kids will be stronger, taller with bigger male organs. Other factor such as migration has to be associated with male orgam growth, the developing country can hire bigger stronger workers from outside and some of them would move there looking for a better life.

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  5. Enter your name says:

    Would anyone doubt that GDP is associated with the health and nutrition status of the country?

    Or that the size of just about any body part would be associated with health and nutrition status?

    This seems like… well, like the study was run by a couple of young men for fun, not by a couple of scholars looking for real answers.

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    • Ulysses says:

      Index finger length correlates with testosterone correlates with penis size correlates with trading stocks for a living. Conclusion, large penis required for trading stocks successfully.

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  6. Andreas Moser says:

    My size changes all the time.

    But seriously, correlation is NOT causation:

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  7. Holy Cow! says:

    Well, the good news is that I would be like a LOVE GOD in Korea!!!

    Here’s how it works. When you’re small, less blood is taken from your brain…allowing economic advance, etc. When you’re huge, your confidence compensates for any brain drain. But if you’re in the middle…your wee man is large enough to drain significant blood from your brain, but too small to give you that uber-confidence that is needed for such occasions. In other words, you’re sunk.

    As for the French, I think that they got their centimeters and inches mixed up when it came to THEIR measurements.

    The above is, of course, only after diligent and reasoned research on my part.

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  8. Eric M. Jones says:

    I notice that if your flag has white in the middle and red on the end, your johnson is bigger.

    But I don’t buy any of this “study”. The US Census says that the racial/ethnic makeup of the US is:

    15.2% German
    African American 8.8%
    English 8.7%
    Mexican 6.5%
    Italian 5.6%

    So if the study is reasonable, with those genetics, we’d be laying some pretty big pipe. But I leave that as an exercise for the students.

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