Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ranking the performance of immigrant groups by home country

Included in the impressive report issued last month by the Center for Immigration Studies are data on various socio-economic attributes of the US' foreign-born population, broken down by place of birth for migrants who are from one of the top 25 countries in the world in terms of first generation representation in the US.

How each of the attributes, as measured by the percentage of persons from each nation who fulfill the definition of as much, correlate with average estimated IQ of the migrants' country of origin (all of these relationships are statistically significant):

Using one or more welfare programs -- (.58)
Self-employed -- .56
Without health insurance -- (.48)
Less than a high school education -- (.46)
Bachelor's and beyond -- .45
In poverty -- (.44)

These relationships come as a bit of a surprise. I supposed I might end up using them as a seque into pointing out how group averages often tell us little about specific individuals within those groups. The notorious success of Indian immigrants had given me that impression.

From this, I could plug my support for a merit immigration system designed to skim the cream of the world's crop for the benefit of the US, making note of the fact that while the residencies granted by such a program might proxy weakly with race/ethnicity, the numbers wouldn't be driven by it.

Okay, so the proxy would likely be stronger than I'd envisioned. It's still a good idea.

Indians in the US are a special case. India's migrant profile is an outlier (as is Iran's to a lesser degree). The world's second most populous country is a diverse place, and we're almost certainly getting more than our share of its upper crust (Brahmins). If India is removed from the analyses, all but one of the relationships become noticeably stronger:

Using one or more welfare programs -- (.67)
Self-employed -- .55
Without health insurance -- (.53)
Less than a high school education -- (.51)
Bachelor's and beyond -- .60
In poverty -- (.49)

Based on those six factors, I've created a simple index to rate the top 25 nations from which our foreign-born population originates. The scores correlate with estimated IQ at .57, and .65 with India removed.

The non-Hispanic native white performance is set at 100. I gave equal weight to each of the factors, which probably inflates the numbers on education and underappreciates welfare use (or a lack thereof). Nonetheless, the rankings certainly have face validity:

RankCountry of originMerit index
4.United Kingdom128.1
6.Former USSR108.3
8.South Korea103.0
xn-H White natives100.0
xHispanic natives21.8
xBlack natives13.2
21.Dominican Republic(54.5)
22.El Salvador(60.7)



Why are Peruvians so successful relative to immigrants from other Latin American countries? Despite the Uribe government's attempts to break the FARC, Colombia is one of the most chaotic countries in South America, so it's not surprising that, as it was for fleeing Cubans from the sixties onward, resourcefulness is being selected for to some extent.

Native Hispanics appear to fall comfortably in the middle of their 'ancestral' Latin American homes. But the Mexican contribution is larger than the total contribution of all the other Latin American countries combined. So we're seeing what is already known--subsequent generations of Hispanics tend to improve over the first generation that spawned them. But they do not reach white or Asian levels of success, coming instead to rest in a position slightly happier than that of black Americans.

The farther they have to travel, and the fewer who actually make the move, the better those who do come will fare stateside, right? Nearly one-fifth of Mexico's native population currently lives in the US, and Mexican migrants rank near the bottom of US society by almost every measure. The correlation between the number of migrants from a country and its merit index score is an inverse .37, though it is outside 95% confidence (the r-value is surprisingly high given a p-value of over .07 due to how heavily Mexico, with the largest population and worst performance, weighs on the numbers).

That isn't the case for immigrants from Canada, however. America Junior isn't alone in bucking the trend. In fact, when Mexico is removed from the analysis, the relationship disappears completely.

A point to take from this is that thinking about immigration involves more than just entertaining a few questions that pertain to how many have come and will continue to come, and what the annual numerical limit on residencies granted each year should be.

Ellis Island nostalgia doesn't work due to the sheer number of contemporary immigrants, a major expansion in the public safety net since the first wave, civilizational (in Huntington's definition of the word) disparities between immigrants then and immigrants now, and vastly different needs for manual labor and geographic expansion in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth Century compared to today.

It also doesn't work as an argument in favor of unfettered Hispanic immigration. One can easily favor leaving the door open to nations that sent immigrants before 1924 and still favor the construction of a wall, an end to underclass immigration from Latin America, tough employer sanctions, and the like. All immigrants are not the same (something open borders advocates like the WSJ op/ed board don't seem to get).


Anonymous said...

Why are Peruvians so successful relative to immigrants from other Latin American countries? Despite the Uribe government's attempts to break the FARC, Colombia is one of the most chaotic countries in South America

Huh? Did you mean to say Columbians instead of Peruvians?

Rob said...

So AP, what do you think is the future of the US? Are you as pessimistic as godless capitalist? I'm starting to think that we might end up with something along the lines of Michael Hart's suggested breakup into different racial states and a multiracial remnant state.

Cheap personal transportation has allowed whites to avoid many negative interactions with minorities, but as gasoline gets expensive and crime-prone minorities become a greater percent of the population, a federal government that won't let people self-segregate... I see things falling apart.

Anonymous said...

There is an argument that suggests that the unrestricted immigration actually causes crime. Here's how.

Males tend to be less successful at integrating into their new country, and the less intelligent they are the less successful they will be at learning the new language and customs. However, they want access to women.

Since women tend to want resources from any male they consent to have sex with (in order to raise their children) males know they have to accumulate resources (ie, wealth) and immigrant males have fewer legitimate avenues for that. The more enterprising turn to crime. It is common among Hispanic males to aspire to be drug dealers since it is perceived as a quick and easy way to get wealth in order to attract females.

Immigrant females, on the other hand, are more attracted to the males in their new country, as they are more likely to be successful.

So, the moral? If you support unrestricted immigration, perhaps you should only allow it for females and insist that males who want to enter the US should have a recognized degree.

Anonymous said...

Here is my damned "moral":

Immigration is too important to be left to elected representatives. Immigration policy should be determined by ballot initiatives (which means there would probably only be immigration from Europe, Russia, and Australia for the most part). Paid-off "representatives" will be guaranteed to bring in cheap labor for corporate donors every time. Lefty's just want a majority and are too stupid to realize that they will screw the nation up for good by wanting more, but they are stupid as a bag of hammers in the first place, so what do you expect.

This nation will be royally screwed up in 50 more years. I'll be dead then, but my kids wont be. This sucks.

Steve Sailer said...

I wonder why South Koreans don't do better. Are they bringing in their elderly parents and stashing them in public housing?

Al Fin said...

Rather than taking the Clinton-Pelosi-Reid-Bush approach and allowing Mexico to annex half the US by default, I suggest:

1. Build a wall 200 ft. high and 300 ft deep, manned by 24 hr. patrols and monitored by seismic devices and constant "eye in the sky" remotely piloted drones.

2. Establish by electronic, remote aircraft, and satellite surveillance a 50 mile buffer zone on the Mexican side of the border wall.

3. Fire upon without warning any unidentified vehicles or personnel who persist within the buffer zone after a cursory warning to withdraw.

4. If there is any evidence of Mexican Federale asistance to those attempting unauthorized border crossings, launch cruise missile or other lethal attacks upon any Federale outposts within 150 miles of any such crossing attempts.

5. Place the Mexican government on probation. Any violations of the terms of probation result in instant annexation of 10,000 sq. miles of Mexican territory by the US.

6. Penalties will escalate with each violation.

Marc said...

Regarding Peruvians, for what it's worth I live in Alexandria and know a significant number of Peruvians. They are all either attorneys or businessmen from Peru's small but not trivial white elite. I would wager this is true for a disproportionate number of Peruvian immigrants, who pull up the overall numbers.

Anonymous said...

My only experience wit South Koreans is that one of them works for Silicon Image and his wife is a stunner.

My experience with Indians is that some of them are very good but I have met some worthless ones as well. Of course, the same goes for whites.

agnostic said...

The Colombians are mostly White and fleeing, this is true. But I have noticed that non-White looking Peruvians do appear to do better than other mixed-race Latin groups.

Could it be that the Inca were selected for higher IQ and greater work ethic, compared to other indigenous groups? Their civilization is more impressive to me at least.

Plus they live in the mountains, and high altitude and cold weather are always good for getting things done, other things held equal.

Audacious Epigone said...

First Anon,

What I wrote was what I meant to write. Colombians look the best of Latin America, but that makes sense to me, because of the situation in the country. Peru, however, (despite educator protests) is a relatively functional, economically free place.


Immigration from south of the border has slowed over the last year, and individual states have really began to get serious about the problem. Although Tancredo has no chance at the nomination, he and Duncan Hunter have moved the GOP Presidential contingent in the right direction. The Democratic party is more restrictionist than it was before the '06 midterms, and it's a salient issue among voters. A national consumption tax (based on spending, not income, as so many fools keep presuming in their opposition to it) has gained a lot of attention due to Huckabee's rise.

So in the short-term, I'm cautiously optimistic. The longer we go without a wall, serious internal enforcement, a rebuke of birthright citizenship, chain migration, etc, the more pessimistic I'll become. Time isn't on our side.

Second Anon,

Although "discriminatory", preferential treatment for females and a merit system for males is probably less 'controversial' than a full-blown merit system coupled with overall restriction is.


According to the CIS report, more than one-third of Korean immigrants lack health insruance. Their rates of welfare use are also a bit higher than that of Chinese immigrants and much higher than that of Japanese immigrants. They have a poverty rate of almost 17%, but I wonder if that is inflated by income not being accounted for in their self-employed work, for which they are more heavily represented than immigrants from any other nation are.

Al Fin,

Heh, I'll take a 1,900 mile barrier with concertina wire and dry 'moats' on both sides at this point. But when Mexico is bringing in almost $25 billion a year in remittances in exchange for exporting its social problems to the US, your six-point proposal makes sense to me.


Thanks. Most of the Hispanic immigrants doing menial work that I come into contact with are from Central America and Mexico. My aunt is Peruvian, so I suppose I should ask her.

Third Anon,

I've noticed enterprising Korean men seem to be very protective of their wives (who I tend to find attractive, along with East Asian women in general). I'm not sure if this is specific to Koreans or an attribute of East Asian men in general. I've had little contact with Chinese or Japanese immigrants in the US.


Interesting. The salt pools in Maras have always struck me as prehistorically clever, although they predate the rise of the Incas.

Anonymous said...

We think of South Korea as first world because it is now, but it was a very poor place as little as 25 years ago, and still not nearly as rich as Japan or the USA. So a South Korean who is 70 probably never earned very much money, and if that person has US relative, that might be the richest person in the family.

Takahata Yuichi said...

Personally, I do not buy the notion that Indians in the U.S. are somehow uniquely selected differently from every other country in the world that shoots them to the top in such a manner above all other third world countries.

In the U.S. Indians do well, so do Pakistanis, probably due to selective immigration. However, in the UK, Pakistanis do poorly. But Indians still do well. In Singapore, they still do well.

I personally think that the estimated IQ of India does not accurately represent that of either of the main ethnic groups and because of what a mess India is, ethnically speaking as well as environmentally, it is difficult to get a good sample.

When our company expanded to India I spent a few years in Dravidian-speaking Bangalore. I do not think they have a significant handicap.

Audacious Epigone said...


The question of Indian intelligence is one of the most globally important as we head through the 21st Century. Unlike the West and East Asia (including China), India has high fertility, well above replenishment. We need something akin to the NLSY for the country that is representative (which would be quite a feat).

Anonymous said...

My experience with Indians is that some of them are very good but I have met some worthless ones as well. Of course, the same goes for whites.

Yes of course, hardly needs to said. But whites are here already. Each worthless immigrant added doesnt then displace a worthless native, it just adds to the total. There is no excuse for any worthless immigrants to be allowed in.

green card visa said...

More green card visas should definitely be issued to Russian immigrants. These immigrants are highly intelligent and determined to persevere and succeed. Many of them are eager to learn American customs, which are quite similar to Russian ones, and learn them well.

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Anonymous said...

I guess because people are used to African americans not performing well in the professions,they fail to distinguish them from African immigrants,who ,incidentally,top the list

Brad Imerson said...

There are already several merit based immigration systems. From the H1 to the EB visas, immigrants the world over are getting their green card visa in exchange for allowing the United States to benefit from their unique talents.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, convenient how there's no African countries put in this list, even though African immigrants actually have some of the highest college degree attainment rate of all groups (equal to Indians and Koreans I believe)