Sunday, January 13, 2008

Affirmative action, another Indian handicap

The question over which country, India or China, will rise faster, is one of the most internationally important that will be answered in the 21st Century. GNXP's Godless has, equipped with a human biodiversity perspective, dealt with it in the past. He places his bet on China, for four major reasons:

1. Racial and religious homogeneity (91% Han)

In contrast, India is much more diverse. The Hindu nation has over 150 million Muslims, making it home to the third largest Islamic population in the world.

2. No neighbor as hostile as Pakistan
While China may eventually butt heads with another nuclear power, Russia, over Chinese expansion into Russia's vast and resource rich territory east of the Urals, it has no conflict with a neighbor that approaches the animosity that exists between India and Pakistan.

3. A higher GDP and higher growth rate, and far better infrastructure
In 2006, foreign direct investment in China was nearly six times greater than FDI in India, in spite of the CPC's notorious cautious approach toward such inflows. Capital markets are providing insight into where the bulk of the growth is going to be.

4. The possible wild card: the ability of the Communist party to push genetic engineering
In 1993, 91% percent of Chinese genetic scientists reported that they supported eugenic policies for the betterment of the nation. The one-child policy has already prepared Han Chinese (to whom it applied) for demographic engineering, and a Confucian ethos is compatible with it. So I agree with all four of his points.

Godless cites a larger Chinese male surplus as a potential disadvantage for the Middle Kingdom. But the CIA factbook's most recent data puts the male advantage under 15 years of age at 17 million for both countries. Since China has a couple hundred million more people, that means the Indian female shortfall is more acute than is the Chinese, not the other way around and Godless asserts. Further, there is a larger market for Southeast Asian wives in China than in India, where arranged marriages and caste considerations are still common.

Then there is what may be the most important Chinese advantage of all--a more intelligent (if truculent) population. In IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Lynn and Vanhanen estimate China's average IQ to be 100, compared to India's 81. Among the nations of the world with an average IQ near or above the three-digit threshold, China is virtually alone* in its relative poverty. The breakdown of staggeringly inhibitive governmental controls seems to be propelling China to its 'rightful' seat at the top of the economic pack.

The WSJ offers another reason India is going to have trouble keeping pace (also here):

In today's India, high-caste privileges are dwindling, and with the government giving extensive preferences to the lower-caste majority, many Brahmins are feeling left out of the economy's rapid expansion. ...

In Tamil Nadu, nearly 70% of government jobs and public-college slots are reserved for people from lower castes and other historically disadvantaged groups. Although he says he graduated near the top of his high-school class and had strong test scores, Mr. Parameswaran couldn't get into any of the state engineering colleges. His family had to borrow from friends to send him to a second-rate private college.

I've never seen Indian IQ scores broken down by caste, if such a thing has ever been done, but I've always presumed that Brahmin scores are considerably higher than those of the lower orders, in part due to Brahmin advantages in attributes that proxy for IQ, and in part due to my own personal experience (I've known one Indian in the US who is Kshatriya while the rest have all been Brahmins).

While this mandated affirmative action isn't going to make the most efficient use of India's human resources, it's not as overwhelming as it might first appear. The quotas aren't as high in other areas of India (around 50%), and while 70% seems an enormous figure, only 3% of Tamil Nadu's population is Brahmin. Of India's nearly 1.1 billion people, only 55 million (5%) or so are Brahmin. Even the members of this relatively small elite are not universally privileged. Far from it, in fact, as nearly two-thirds of Brahmins (amounting to 35 million people) earn less than $1,200 a year.

Many Indian industries that are private in the US, like banks and railways, have extensive governmental involvement on the subcontinent. If the choice is between marginal employment and a government position, though, it's hard to see how keeping a better educated and more intelligent Brahmin out is going to be helpful.

But these quotas still apply to government positions, after all. I can't back it up, but I've always had a hunch that the imperial examination system that encouraged China's most promising striplings to concentrate their intellectual energies on performing well on the examination system--and then snatched up those who performed well and put them in official bureaucratic positions--was a bane on China's development from the 7th century on.

*North Korea is likely another. I hopefully await (with excess dollars) the day that Kim Jung Il's regime collapses and something similar to South Korean democracy takes root in its place and begins seeking foreign investment.


Anonymous said...

Why qualify at all that N. Korea is 'likely' another? It is another, full stop. Same genetic stock as South Korea (with an avg IQ of 100+). Nutrition could have it down a little, but their equilibrium point is above 100.

Sleep said...

My money's on China as well, but I'd like to point out a problem or two you didnt mention:

First, the one child policy. Because it only applies to Han Chinese, and because the poorest Chinese are allowed to break the rules in order to support themselves, it is likely the most dysgenic policy ever conceived of in the history of the world. Imagine an American equivalent: white couples can only have one baby, but blacks and other minorities can have as many as they like. And if a white couple is struggling to get by, they can have two babies instead of one. Oh, and interracial couples? Theyd only be legal if the woman is white and her husband isn't. Because that's what the analogous policy is in China for Han Chinese wishing to marry certain non-Han minorities. I could extend the analogy a little further and say that Taiwan is Cuba and Tibet is the American Indians, but I'd be really getting off track.

This is all in pursuit of the Maoist goal of destroying Chinese culture, which he never hid. I don't have statistics on the ethnic makeup of Chinese children, but estimates of the birthrate in China tend to range between 1.7 and 2.1, which means that almost *half* of the new children being born each year in China are either minorities or children born to Han couples that got around the law, mostly due to poverty. I suspect that at least some people in China's government are beginning to realize what a gigantic mistake the one child policy has been, but they've got so many other gigantic mistakes to address right now that they might not stop until China becomes as full of racial strife and hatred as the United States is.

My only comment on India is that I don't believe the 81 IQ score. Yes I know it's the average of several different studies, but even several different studies isn't enough when you have a country as diverse as India is. There was a study published a few years ago which tested 500 (mostly white) boys all across Britain and came up with an average IQ of 84. Even if you took that score and averaged it with a few other studies with scores near 100, you'd still be way off.

Audacious Epigone said...


Try as I may, I'm not immune to the PC omertas. I think they influence me in subliminal ways though, not so much straightout :) I agree with you.


I too think the policy is foolish, and for many of the same reasons you listed. Here's what I wrote about a year ago, when a popular artist was fined for having an extra kid:

An aside, the policy is not as all-encompassing as it is often portrayed. It applies only to the Han, who are essentially the country's first-class citizens, comprising a little over 90% of the population. While ostensibly in place to curtail rural birthing, enforcement is lax in much of rustic China and more stringent in areas of concentrated conurbation. And rural dwellers are allowed an extra baby if the first one is a girl (so the first-born girl is protected from infanticide, but if the coin lands wrong-side-up twice in a row, the second child isn't so lucky). Also, single children are allowed to procreate twice (Mao has another sibling so she is still in violation). It is possible to circumvent the regulation by having a child out-of-country or by paying fines (both of which make the policy mildly eugenic).

Seems to me the policy is one of folly. China's economy is growing over seventeen times faster than its population is. That translates into about a $650 per year increase in terms of purchasing power parity. A doubling of China's birth rate (which, if sustained would propel the country to a total fertility rate of 3.5 kids per woman), ceteris paribus, would still see the economy growing at over five times the rate of the nation's population. A bump up to replenishment rate (from the curent TFR of 1.73), would slow current PPP growth by about $20 annually, to $630. Granted, more resources and energy would have to be devoted to extra urchins running around, so the slowdown might be more pronounced.

Marc said...


I don't think the analogy between Chinese and American minorities holds. African-Americans have an average IQ 15 points below the white average; is there any evidence that the IQ difference between, say, the Han and the Uyghur (who are half East Asian, half Caucasian) is that pronounced? I'd be surprised if it were.

Sleep said...

I'd be more worried about the minorities in southern China, such as the Hmong, rather than those in the north. Most IQ tests in Southeast Asia seem to hover around an average value of 90, and evidence suggests that the scores for inland tribes such as the Hmong (9 million in China) are even lower than that. I'm pretty sure I've seen an IQ test with 77 as the average for some highland Chinese group. If you assume the Han Chinese IQ to be 105, there is a gap of at least 15 points, possibly more, between the Han and the Hmong. And the Hmong are joined by about 30 million other Southeast Asian-looking minorities in nearby parts of southern China. As I implied when talking about India, I don't like to take IQ scores that seriously until I've seen them replicated over and over, so I don't think the gap will stay so large, but I do think there is at least a substantial genetic component to it.

Audacious Epigone said...


Any idea where that sub-80 score came from? I'd assume Hmong scores to be similar to those of Vietnamese, who are racially quite similar. But I can't find much on them, either. Based the decline as the equator is approached, I'd guess the average to be in the low nineties.

Sleep said...

I think I found it. IQ and the Wealth of Nations gives 78 for the score for Nepal. I dont want to get myself into a corner though, so I'll say I dont know what percentage of the Nepalese gene pool is "Asian" and what percent is Caucasian. (But most Nepalese do seem to look like Asians.)

While there may well be a gradient in IQ from north to south, I expect there is also one from the coasts inland. The further inland you go, the less stereotypically Asian the people look, as more and more Negroid facial features begin to surface. I admit I'm jumping to conclusions here, but I would think it's likely that the inland people have lower IQs than the coastal people. In 2003 a study in northern Thailand reported 84 as its average IQ, as against 88 for Bangkok. (Did I write that here already? Im getting deja vu.)

Sorry for my posts not being more well researched.

Sleep said...

Also, in terms of indicators such as income, education, welfare dependency, and family size, the inland Hmong and Laotians are way below the Vietnamese, and in fact theyre below blacks as well.

Sleep said...

Yes, it's me again. I also wanted to say that I think the idea of a monolithic Han Chinese entity is something of a fiction at least when looking at from a racial perspective. In the old days, all of what is now southern China was a patchwork of many many cultures that resembles what you see today further south. The Chinese moved south and assimilated them culturally, but racially a large divide still exists. The northern Chinese are tall and pale-skinned, the southern Chinese are short and somewhat darker. The Cavalli-Sforza gene mapping project groups the southern Han Chinese with other Southeast Asian groups even today, rather than with the northern Han. I would say it's a situation rather like what you see in Europe: northern and southern Europeans are quite different from each other visually, but southern Europeans are a lot like North Africans.

And the point I'm leading up to is: if indeed southeast Asians are of lower IQs than Han Chinese, I suspect southern Han Chinese are of lower IQs than northern Han. And therefore even today China's IQ can be expected to be quite a bit lower than that of Korea or Japan. (Or Mongolia? I'm fairly uneducated about the history of Asia, but it seems to me that the Mongols seem to have played quite a large role in it, surprising considering how cold and barren it really is.)

Fat Knowledge said...

I'd put my money on China for a different reason:

Around half of all Indian women are illiterate, compared with a ratio of around one in seven in China.

Anonymous said...

"And the point I'm leading up to is: if indeed southeast Asians are of lower IQs than Han Chinese, I suspect southern Han Chinese are of lower IQs than northern Han"

I don't see that as being a huge handicap for the Chinese. They don't have Affirmative Action. They are also very homogenous people. Not as homogenous or intelligent as the Japanese or Koreans, but enough to stay ahead of India for the forseeable future and challenge other Asian nations militarily. They are already doing so economically.
And don't forget the US has the same handicap as India. Of course the effects are only being seen now just now.

Audacious Epigone said...


I also wanted to say that I think the idea of a monolithic Han Chinese entity is something of a fiction at least when looking at from a racial perspective. In the old days, all of what is now southern China was a patchwork of many many cultures that resembles what you see today further south.

It's considered the single largest ethnic group in the world, but there surely are minor differences. I suspect males are more closely related throughout China, and that many in the southern part of the country are ancestrally from the north (due to invasions from the north from the Manchus, the Mongols, etc). The mitochondrial side is probably more localized. I'm not smart enough to keep up with the HapMap Project (I let the guys at GNXP do that for me), but I wonder if anything related has been discovered there.

Re: Mongolian IQ, when the hordes united under Genghis Khan spread from the steppes, they weren't technologically sophisticated, and didn't contribute much novelty to the Chinese empire they inherited. A Spartan/Templar type of battle ethic, proficiency with horses, and the complete annihilation of towns (even those that surrendered without resistance) seems to me to be the keys to their success (but I'm certainly no expert!)

I wonder if, due to low population density, they've experienced something similar to Inuits, who have relatively high visual memory and large brains (which may have contributed to their renowned ability to fire arrows with deadly accuracy from horseback while in a gallop) but average IQ scores in the 90s. The small, dispersed population means less opportunity for cognitively beneficial mutations to occur and rapidly spread.


The correlation between estimated IQ and adult literacy is ~.70. We probably have different ideas as to the chicken-and-egg question, but whatever the cause, from both perspectives the advantage lies with China.

Anonymous said...

"Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them."
-- Mary Frances Berry, (former) Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

Anonymous said...

And the point I'm leading up to is: if indeed southeast Asians are of lower IQs than Han Chinese, I suspect southern Han Chinese are of lower IQs than northern Han.

Being married to a southern Han person and knowing a lot from Hong Kong and Guangdong, I am prepared to believe that their IQs are not below that of the Northern Han.

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm not too familiar with Taiwanese history, but maybe you'll be able to correct me if I'm wrong, given your family situation. I'm thinking that most of the Chinese who settled Taiwan were from the populous southeastern regions of the country. The same for Singapore. Needless to say, both are intelligent and prosperous nations.

I'm more inclined at this point to predict to the extent that an IQ gap exists in China, it is more along an east-west corridor than a north-south divider.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too familiar with Taiwanese history, but maybe you'll be able to correct me if I'm wrong, given your family situation. I'm thinking that most of the Chinese who settled Taiwan were from the populous southeastern regions of the country. The same for Singapore. Needless to say, both are intelligent and prosperous nations.

My spouse is from Hong Kong, but in having talked to many people from Taiwan, it seems that many arrived there from all over China after '49.

To a certain extent, Hong Kong also picked up Han Chinese from all over China after '49.

However, my spouse's folks are from Guangdong.

Certainly with respect to Singapore, I think most came from the more southern coastal regions, and many of the overseas Chinese, until recently, were historically from Guangdong and other coastal regions.

It is not clear to what extent the IQ of non-coastal and non-urban Chinese is different, because downward mobility has been a strong feature of Chinese history for a long time and the civil service exams have had a powerful effect for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I think Indian average IQ is 81 or lower. India has never won a gold medal in any IQ related academic competitions like IOI (International Informatics Olympiads) and IMO (International Math Olympiads). I have been India many times. I could not believe how backward and filthy they are. People eat foods with bare hands, rice, bread and even soup. If you see a bucket of water in front of a public toilet, do not touch. Most of Indian people in India do not use toilet paper. In addition, the Hindu caste system discourages inter-caste marriage and encourages in-breed. I will be surprised if their average IQ is higher than 81.

Anonymous said...

Statistics will not always reflect the reality. It is more like perception.

Hmm...on second thoughts, howcome people with so low IQ from INDIA came to have such advanced knowledge in almost every field starting with Philosopy to Love Making.


Anonymous said...

I am Chinese, I have a hard time in believing India has an IQ of merely 81 since if so low, who created the brilliant, most-mind-oriented Indian culture??

Audacious Epigone said...


I don't pretend to be able to characterize the Indian culture. It's my understanding that, as a country, India is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. The IQ distribution in India, trending toward something like a normal distribution, is probably wider and bumpie than just about any other nation's profile is.

Anonymous said...

Southern Han IQ is actually extremely high. It's possibly the highest in the world, and in itself has among the highest standard deviations in IQ.

While they were Southerners, they had several waves of Northern migration spanning thousands of years. Vietnam, a relatively unmixed area, isn't exactly stupid either (99-100 on average).

Yet, the Southerners also went through thousands of years of selective pressure (plagues, famines, the civil service, Northern migrations) for intelligence.

They've been part of the same nation as the Northerners for such a long time that it's probable that meritocracy and possibly hybrid vigor (if it exists) made them smarter.

One thing to note is that the Southern Han are very diverse (lots of ethnic groups) and while they score in the 110-115 range, their reaction times are slower (decision times faster). There is a difference in the structure of Northern vs. Southern intelligence.

As for the people in Western China, a lot of them preserve ancient Han genelines. I don't know about Turkic peoples though.

India probably has several pockets of 95-100ish scoring groups.

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Anonymous said...

"I don't see that as being a huge handicap for the Chinese. They don't have Affirmative Action. They are also very homogenous people. Not as homogenous or intelligent as the Japanese or Koreans, ". Wrong, completely wrong. Japanese have an average iq of 105 the exact same as average iq of Chinese. Korea is 106, one point higher, but of course they are much more educated and urbanized than China. The fact that the relatively poor and uneducated Han chinese is the same as the Japanese and only one point below the Koreans shows that on average, the Han are more intelligent than either of these groups. In fact, the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu have iqs near 110. Hong Kong, southern chinese nonetheless, 108. And the Japanese are not homogenous, they are an admixture of Korean and Chinese populations along with a slight bit of ainu and okinawan thrown in the mix. Smarter and less mixed my ass. If they were so smart they'd realize that their negative growth rates would wipe out their population. If they were so smart theyd have made their own culture instead of copying chinese and european culture. Thats why Japs and Koreans will always remain weak and uninfluential on the world stage.

Anonymous said...

"Not as homogenous or intelligent as the Japanese or Koreans". Yeah fucking right. Considering the fact that the Han have the same average iq as the Japanese and much less education shows that they are on average much smarter than Japs. Keep dreaming otaku. Homogenity leads to inbreeding. Japs can relate.