Giving Voice

GIVING VOICE….I’ve read about this before, but Tyler Cowen quotes today in more detail from a new book about the differences in average voice pitch among women in different countries:

Women in almost every culture speak in deeper voices than Japanese women. American women’s voices are lower than Japanese women’s, Swedish women’s are lower than American’s, and Dutch women’s are lower than Swedish women’s. Vocal difference is one way of expressing social difference, so that in Dutch society, which doesn’t differentiate much between its image of the ideal male and the ideal female, there are few differences between male and female voice. The Dutch also find medium and low pitch more attractive than high pitch.

Which goes to show how powerfully culture worms its way into things that are widely assumed to be mostly biological. Most people believe that women have higher pitched voices as a matter of simple physiology, but it ain’t so. It’s mostly cultural, and anyone who watches old movies can attest to how the ideal of female voice has changed over the past 70 years.

Also: this is one more data point demonstrating why the Netherlands is the best country in the world. It’s more than just the tulips.