Friday, October 31, 2014

Women's Inequality in Canada

About 5 months ago the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report that compared the "best and worst place to be a woman in Canada." I wasn't a huge fan of the report - in fact, I thought the analysis wasn't too dissimilar from my zombie post, and disagreed with how strict rankings were compared across broad categories. I also thought that calling Edmonton the "worst place to be a woman" in Canada to be a bit of a jump from the findings as reported - Edmonton was instead (by their standards) the lowest-ranked city out of 20 in terms of equality.

Just recently, the World Economic Forum released its very own report on worldwide gender inequality, and I liked it much better. It measures a similar number of quantitative results, but weighs factors appropriately based on statistical measures, and compares them based on scores instead of their rankings between categories. Though the merits of the specific measures used are open to interpretation, I'm satisfied that they're representative of inequality across the world.

These stats were so well prepared and presented, in fact, that I figured Canadian cities deserved the same treatment in their rankings. If we take (approximately*) the same approach as the World Economic Forum, and apply it to Statistics Canada results for our top 20 cities, this is what we get:

Rank City Score
1 Victoria 0.836
2 London 0.817
3 Sherbrooke 0.783
4 Ottawa-Gatineau 0.777
5 Vancouver 0.773
6 Québec 0.772
7 Toronto 0.766
8 Saskatoon 0.756
9 Montréal 0.747
10 Oshawa 0.746
11 Halifax 0.739
12 Winnipeg 0.730
13 Hamilton 0.727
14 St. Catharines-Niagara 0.726
15 St. John's 0.720
16 Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 0.713
17 Regina 0.711
18 Windsor 0.708
19 Calgary 0.693
20 Edmonton 0.692

So there's good news and bad news here. Good news: some cities are pretty much in the same rank as the CCPA study (especially around the bottom of the list). Bad news: some cities moved over 10 spots (London and St. John's basically traded places). In general there's a weak correlation between the two analyses.

The World Economic Forum model looks at four major categories: Economic Participation, Health and Survival, Educational Attainment, and Political Empowerment, all weighted the same. Within each category are up to 5 differently weighted sub-categories - statistical measures that are typically converted into ratios of female:male success, with 1.00 being perfect equality, and 0.00 being complete inequality. Weights within each category are distributed based on the overall variance of that measurement, so that a 1% change within one sub-category is worth the same as a 1% change in another.

There are a couple of advantages to using the World Economic Forum model when looking at Canadian cities. Comparing inequality scores to each other allows for a better overall picture of how the city is doing, compared to a strict rank of cities between each other. Also, by following an internationally accepted standard, we can compare these numbers directly to the results of other countries to get a better idea of exactly how good or bad any given city is.

Some fun findings:

Victoria, the best city in this ranking system, has an inequality index of about 0.836, which indicates that it is more or less as equal as the entirety of Norway. It mostly got this due to being very strong across all categories, but particularly for having the closest to balanced city council participation out of any city in the country.

Montréal was approximately equal in terms of female-to-male equality to Canada on average. Much like the country on average, women in Montréal do just as well or better than men in terms of health and education, but are still trailing behind from an economic point of view and are drastically far behind in terms of political representation.

Edmonton, sadly, still has a lot of ground to cover and I'm afraid there's now way of looking at the stats that doesn't rank it last in terms of equality. Our score puts us approximately equal to Russia in terms of inequality.

Edmonton suffers mostly from having had very little female political representation, as well as significantly fewer women working than men, while earning much less than they do.

None of this is saying that Edmonton is particularly bad place to be a woman - certainly I'm sure that most women feel safer in Edmonton than they would in Russia, and the standard of living is likely much better on average. It is simply the case that Edmonton men have it as much easier than Edmonton women do as Russian men to Russian women.

As a country in general, we still have a long ways to go, and I'm certain Canada can climb from 20th in the world. But that change starts here in our cities, and an analysis like this is (in my mind) much more useful for telling us where we stand than the report by the CCPA five months ago.

*Minor changes from WEF report include:
-Political Empowerment: "Head of state" was changed to "mayor", ministerial positions were combined with members of parliament and replaced with current members of council.
-Wage equality for equal work data wasn't available for cities, so it was combined with estimated earned income.

Spreadsheet available upon request

Health 1, 2
Economy 1, 2, 3
Political: Individual city websites

Thursday, October 2, 2014

McDonald's Monopoly Stats

Man, was I ever excited when I saw that McDonald's Monopoly was back this year! I had a blast looking at the Roll Up the Rim stats last year, and hoped I could do the same for Monopoly this year.

Then I was pretty disappointed to realize that Business Insider had done their own analysis. I was all set to just read theirs contently, until I realized that they just copied and pasted their same article from the year before (hint: the prizes changed this year, dummies). So yay - I get to do my own!

(By the way, a less fun breakdown of the stats is done in the official McDonald's rules, so feel free to check my sources as we go along).

So how this all works is that whenever you buy certain food items (like a medium fountain drink, medium coffee, Big Mac, etc), you win two game stamps. Stamps either have a property, an instant win for food, or an instant win for some sort of other fancy prize. The breakdown for how this looks is approximately this:

A total of 1,303,683,256 stamps were printed. McDonalds' claim that one in four purchases will result in an instant win is bang on then, which is nice. The reasons these numbers may not line up 100% (unfortunately) is that some of their prizes are listed for the U.S. only, and they haven't indicated the exact distribution for Canada.

So one quarter of the time you buy anything, you'll win something. That's kinda nice. I mean, chances are it'll be medium fries (they're 50.2% of all food items, after all), but you could always hold out for that rare Royale with Cheese (you have a 2.2% chance any given time you go!).

The other three quarters of the time, you'll get a property, and if you collect all in a property group, you win big! The problem is that McDonald's doesn't distribute their properties in an even manner, instead they distribute them in such a way as to give you hope. Each colour group has a handful of very common properties (typically a 1 in 11 chance of getting them for any purchase), and one property that's very nearly impossible to get.

Bit tough to make out the really valuable prizes...
For instance, McDonald's has printed off approximately 60,670,043 Baltic Avenue stamps, so the chance of getting at least one any time you play (remember, 2 stamps per play) is 9.09%. Those are pretty good odds - it won't take you very long to get yourself a Baltic Avenue stamp. They only printed off 1,000 Mediterranean Avenues though - so your odds of getting one of those any time you play are only 0.00015%. A wee bit tougher - and don't forget, that's only for the cheapest property prize ($50).

Similarly to how I looked at Roll up the Rim, we can take a look at just how many times you'd need to play Monopoly to have a reasonable chance (>50%) of winning any given prize. The average price of eligible McDonald's items ranges from $1.00 (hashbrowns) to $4.49 (Bacon Clubhouse), but I'll use the average of all eligible items as $3.17 for calculations (because who wants to eat millions of hashbrowns?). If we start with the properties, we'd get:

Mediterranean Avenue: Need at least 451,666 plays to have a shot at getting... a $50 gift certificate! In the process you'll likely win about $170,000 worth of prizes, but it'll result in a net loss of $1,300,000. Maybe not worth it.

Vermont Avenue: Need at least 112,955,548 plays, but you just might win gas for a year! Never mind the net loss of $316,000,000.

Virginia Avenue: Better get ready for 90,364,438 hash browns (or equivalent), for your very own chance at $5,000! Fortunately, by that point you'll likely have had 4 million each of the other two properties for that group, so you're good to go!

Tennessee Avenue: Pretty easy with only 1,895,651 plays needed, and you just might get a Samsung Galaxy! Fun fact: the caloric value of 1,895,651 hashbrowns is enough to feed you for about 415 years in a row.

Kentucky Avenue: Enjoy the necessary 22,591,110 plays you're likely going to need to win your very own 5-night Delta Vacation for Two! If you got that in medium fountain drinks, it would fill five and a half Olympic swimming pools (everyone's favorite measurement of volume).

Ventnor Avenue: Another relatively easy one - only about 6,024,296 plays for a 50% shot at nabbing a Beaches Resort Vacation for your family! If you bought all your plays with bacon clubhouse sandwiches, that would only cost you about $27,049,089, which is actually a pretty good deal (sarcasm).

Pennsylvania Avenue: A bit tougher, but it'll take about 225,911,096 tries for a reasonable chance at a trip in a Cessna private jet! You might think that's tricky, but wait until you put effort towards:

Boardwalk: Approximately 451,822,158 plays needed, but you'd have a glorious chance at nabbing A MILLION DOLLARS $817,572*! Even at the lowest rate of $1.00 per play for hashbrowns, this effort would require your Monopoly opponents to land on your Boardwalk 225,911 times (in original Monopoly, assuming you had a hotel there).

(* Also - the million dollar prize is misleading. Because it's paid out in $50,000/year installments over 20 years, the present value of the money is much less than a million dollars once you take inflation into account.)

Adding everything up, the total value of all prizes offered in Monopoly is $488,423,499.28. With a total of 651,841,628 plays, that means that the expected return of any given play is about $0.75. This may be pretty reasonable if you're buying $1 hashbrowns (get a hashbrown, plus an expected loss of only about 22 cents), but at an average eligible food item cost of $3.17, the loss to McDonald's on each purchase is about $2.42 or 64%, giving it a worse house edge than Lotto 6/49.

So, much like Tim Horton's Roll Up the Rim (or any large promotions, for that matter), I wouldn't recommend McDonald's Monopoly from an investment point of view. If you're already out there gobbling up hashbrowns, carry on though!