2nd Gen Black Success

In terms of educational outcomes, 2nd generation Blacks are on parity with native whites. Since education is a good predictor of IQ, this is prima facie evidence for intellectual equality. This in turn has implications of various racial hereditarian hypotheses.

1. Immigrants, from different regions, vary in terms of their selectivity for a given trait. Let’s call this s. There are a number of ways to measure s with varying degrees of reliability. If we wanted to know the educational s for immigrants from different regions, we might compare the probability that an immigrant will be skilled — i.e. have a BA or higher — to probability that a resident of his native country will be skilled and then convert this into a standardized metric.


s gives us a standardized estimate of how much an immigrant population deviates, in some trait, from the population from which it hailed.

2. Since offspring regress towards the mean, for a given trait, the offspring of immigrants will congenitally deviate from their parent’s native population by s times the narrow heritability of the trait in that population. Let’s call this deviation d1. (So if the educational attainment s for East Asian (EA) immigrants is 1.6 and the narrow heritability of attainment is .5 in both native and diasporic EA populations, 2nd Gen EAs abroad should be, genetically, .8 SD superior to native EAs, in this trait.)

3. 2nd Gen populations will phenotypically deviate from the resident population by some magnitude. Let’s call this deviation d2. (So according to the 2009 census, 2nd generation Asians between ages 24 and 35 obtained .5 SD more college degrees than 3rd+ generation Whites in the US.)

4. Assuming similar narrow heritabilities across populations — obviously a more problematic assumption for traits like educational attainment than g — the genetic deviation between two native populations can be roughly estimated as the difference between d2 and d1. (In the case of native East Asians versus native Whites, the difference would be 0.5 – 0.8 or -.3 SD in genetic potential for attainment.) (Just going with the data here folks.)

5. So if 2nd generation Blacks are on parity with native US whites with respect to IQ, Black Africans and White Americans differ by (0 – d1) or (d1) or (.6 x s).

6. The s for IQ can be estimated by comparing National IQs to immigrant IQs — if data on the latter can be found. The assumption being that IQ tests are no more biased against residents of a country than emigrants from that country.

7. If in the West Indies and in Africa, the average measured Black IQ ranges from 70-80, and the average measured Black Immigrant IQ ranges from 85-95, the s for IQ would be 1. Or immigrant Blacks would represent the upper 1/3rd of their population in terms of phenotypic IQ. (2.2 SD being the distance between the upper and lower 3rds of a normal distribution.)

8. Assuming a global narrow heritability of g of .6, from point (5) and (7) we get a racial difference of 0.6 SD or 10 points — significantly less than what is often argued.

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3 Responses to 2nd Gen Black Success

  1. JL says:

    “[B]lack high school graduates are more likely than white high school graduates to attend college net of differences in socioeconomic family background and academic performance”, so educational outcomes do not necessarily signify intellectual equality.

    That study shows that the distribution of SAT scores in the immigrant black sample (N=95, with many missing values) is not different from that of native blacks, i.e. the distribution is shifted downwards compared to whites. Immigrant blacks in particular are much more likely to attend college compared to whites with similar test scores. Immigrants here include both Africans and West Indians.

    Some data from that study below. In each trio of percentages, the first is immigrant blacks, the second is native blacks, the third is whites.

    Test score | Distrib. by test score | College attendance rate
    1st quintile (lowest) | 14.7 26.8 10.1 | 49.4 50.5 41.5
    2nd quintile | 23.0 18.0 14.2 | 86.3 59.6 58.3
    3rd quintile | 13.6 15.4 17.4 | 77.1 73.2 72.8
    4th quintile | 9.2 10.4 19.7 | 100.0 68.2 86.9
    5th quintile (highest) | 4.0 3.5 18.6 | 100.0 95.0 94.5
    Missing | 35.4 25.8 20.1 | 68.5 54.7 63.1

    It seems that immigrant black families, being much less dysfunctional than native black ones, are much more adept at taking advantage of affirmation action programs. Immigrant blacks are much more likely than native blacks to attend selective colleges:

    And although black immigrants and native blacks are strikingly similar in the percentage of students who enroll in two-year and non-HBCU four-year colleges, they differ markedly in the percentage of students who enroll in selective colleges. Proportionately, almost four times as many black immigrants as native blacks attend selective colleges. Indeed, a larger share of black immigrants attend selective colleges than of any other group considered here.

    41 percent of blacks in Ivy League schools are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants.

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