Thursday, September 11, 2008

Facebook, Economists, and Panizzas

So, I am here sipping a cocktail on a terrace on the beach and decide to check my email (yes, I don’t have anything else to do). The first thing I find is a rant against the new Facebook. So, I decide to log in and check it out.

While I am here, let’s look at my friends. Wow, people say economists are boring but my two “friends” with the highest number of friends are well-known economists. Greg Mankiw has more than 3200 friends and Nouriel Roubini has more than 1200 friends (OK, I must admit that while I know Nouriel pretty well --see here--, I never met Greg Mankiw in person. However, I read many of his papers, taught out of his books, and my Ph.D. advisor was Larry Ball who is Mankiw’s good friend and co-author, so when Mankiw posted a call for friends on his blog I couldn’t resist).

I also have another group of “friends” who I have never met. These are the members of the Panizza group originally created by Steve from Minnesota. The group has 38 members. Let’s check out the geographical distribution of the Panizzas (yes, I really have nothing else to do. Italian mothers always say that after you eat you need to wait for 3 hours before going into the water). The results are as follows: 10 from Italy, 8 from Australia, 6 from the US, 5 from Argentina, 2 from Chile, and 2 from Canada (several other countries with one member, Colombia, Spain, France, ..). Does this match the distribution of Panizzas around the world? Let’s check the white pages (yes, I know what you must be thinking now) of the 4 countries with the highest number of Panizzas on Facebook. I find 1283 Panizza families in Italy (22 for each million inhabitants); 105 Panizza families in Australia (almost all the Australian Panizzas are in West Australia) divide by the population and you get 5 Panizza families for each million of Australian; 250 Panizza families in Argentina (6.25 for each million Argentineans), and 92 Panizza families in the US (1/3 of a Panizza family for each million inhabitants).

So, high density of Panizza in Italy, Argentina, and Australia. Facebook was not so off the mark after all. I guess that now I can go in the water.
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