Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Whites more intelligent, knowledgeable than blacks at all levels of educational attainment

You've probably heard the argument that in the US black job applicants face discrimination in hiring even when their educational attainment is equal to that of competing white applicants. This Think Progress article from a couple of years ago is fairly typical but also notable in that it drills down into the assertion a bit further than most others do:
African-American students need to complete two more levels of education to have the same probability of getting a job as their white peers, a new study by Young Invincibles finds.

The researchers looked at data mainly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census, isolating the effects of race and education on unemployment. They found that an African-American male with an associates degree has around the same chance of getting a job as a white male with just a high school diploma. “At every level of education, race impacts a person’s chance of getting a job,” Tom Allison, a research manager and one of the study’s authors, told ThinkProgress.
The following graph is also included in the write up:

From this data we see that whites* who've graduated from high school but not attended any college courses do about as well as blacks who have an associate's degree do, and whites who have some college but no degree do about as well as graduate-level blacks do.

Hold these two observations in your head as we take a look at some relevant GSS data.

The following graph shows average IQ, converted from Wordsum scores^, by educational attainment and by race among whites and blacks. For contemporary relevance all data is from 2000 onward and respondents born outside of the US are excluded:

The study mentioned in the article notes that white high school graduates do are as successful finding employment as blacks with associate's degrees are.

Because the GSS measures by years of education, distinguishing between "some college" and "associate's degree" is dicey.

If we assume blacks with associate's degrees fall midway between blacks with some college but no degree and blacks with bachelor's degrees, however, we get a black average that is almost identical to the average among whites with a high school diploma but no college experience.

On the first observation, then, we see that employers tend to treat white high school graduates as about as valuable as blacks with associate's degrees because the two groups tend to be roughly equal in ability.

And we see the same with regards to the second observation--the average IQ among whites with some college is virtually identical to the average IQ of graduate-level blacks.

What happens in the real world then is just what we'd expect to find if employers are rationally hiring based on ability rather than on educational credentials alone.

This aforementioned study spun this--and these studies and subsequent media reports on them always do--as an affront to social justice etc etc, but it's merely the consequence of businesses making prudent, reasonable broad-based assumptions about potential employees based on the actionable information they have available to them.

The GSS allows us to evaluate this using more than just Wordsum scores. The following tables are from selected results from the social survey's science module. Again all responses are from 2000 onward and limited to those born in the US.

Results from the question on electrons being smaller than atoms:

From the question on human evolution:

From the question on the scientific validity of astrology:

From the question dealing with the efficacy of using antibiotics to treat viruses:

The patterns we see with IQ as measured by Wordsum scores generally hold here as well--in fact, the modestly educated whites from our two previous observations actually best more highly educated blacks on these science questions rather than just matching them as they do in IQ.

It's true that most employers will prefer a white applicant over a black applicant if both have similar levels of educational attainment.

It is not true that this is an illustration of irrational discrimination on the part of those employers, however. To the contrary, affirmative action practices--both implicit and explicit--are so deeply embedded in the fabric of American life that this outcome is, given current societal circumstances, inevitable.

See treatments of related ideas from The Alternative Hypothesis here and here.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2014), RACECEN1(1,2), BORN(1), WORDSUM, EDUC(0-11,12,13-15,16-17,18-20), ELECTRON, EVOLVED, ASTROSCI, VIRUSES

* All data is for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks.

^ Assuming a national mean IQ of 98 and a standard deviation of 15.


Random Dude on the Internet said...

Sadly both Trump and Betsy DeVos do not intend to mess with affirmative action when it comes to college admissions, graduate school admissions, etc. Even sadder is how hard universities are pushing diversity. I get harassed almost daily by e-mails or calls from my graduate school alumni about how I need to donate to the latest diversity-enriched boondoggle. I once told the fundraiser on the other end of the line that I would be happy to donate to class-based scholarships and grants (aka more opportunities for working class white kids) and the fundraiser said that no such program existed. Plenty of opportunities for women and minorities, working class white guys are SOL. Needless to say I have not bothered donating and have explained to them many times why and the answer is never anything more than "oh we're sorry to hear that...".

Audacious Epigone said...

Random Dude,

Here's the auto-signature from the chancellor at nearby KU:


"Bernadette Gray-Little

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 West Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, TTY 711"

It's remarkable how much further gone academia is from when I graduated a little over a decade ago. It's ubiquitous now. Every department is drenched in Diversity! rhetoric. Class means nothing--Obama is of course more oppressed and faced more structural obstacles than a poor Appalachian white kid from a dysfunctional coal-mining family ever could.

Feryl said...

Not just affirmative action; it's also emotional and character traits. Whites (or Asians, or even Mestizos), are less likely to have big egos, be impulsive, blow up on people, be insubordinate, etc. Plus, blacks are more likely to have various demerits that indicate some kind of pathology or immaturity (like a criminal records, bad debt levels, violent incidents, and so on.

People have good reason to instinctively veer away from blacks. As Agnostic has pointed out, segregation naturally evolved in the South because blacks are so inherently difficult to deal with.

Black Death said...

AE -

This is one of your best. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There are well-known statistics proving blacks earn much more than whites IQ/qualifications being the same.

They have been a privileged demographic group for long.
Women became another in the last 10? 20? years.

IQ doesn't picture all of the intellect and intellectual capacities.
A full picture would show the IQ gap is a part of the white-black, and male-female gap.

If we haven't been brainwashed enough and can muster some sincerity to ourselves, we know the differences are larger.
We know women perform "as well as men" or even better since school and academic requirements (and admission tests) have been focused on diligence and, well, swift recitation of memorized content instead of actual intelligence, that is what will actually decisive in the post-university world.

"Women's math grades exceed men's".
Just make maths not maths any more, and you get it.

This will benefit, heck it is already benefitting, the country hugely.
Don't you see the huge benefits all around, you Mr. Misogyn?

Santoculto said...

''you Mr. Misogyn?''


or Miso-GYM, ;)

Do you know fitness boy*

I don't knew eletrons is smaller than atoms, poor guys, and i delayed about the last question, medication attack micro--son of the bitch--invaders but it's the organism that need to react well, isn't*

I thought whites are better guessers than blacks, ;)

So my sign-personality is completely wrong** Why GOD* Why* Why you hate me**

Anonymous said...

BTW, to clarify (first post was done in haste), what I was getting at was that if had to choose between a white guy and a black guy who were completely the same in every respect, you'd prefer the white guy because of known (or suspected) racial differences in temperament.

I mean, look at what happened to NYC under Dinkins (New Yorkers went black but never went back) or Obama's America. Blacks are incompetent and irresponsible, period. The best we can hope for is instilling a good attitude in the elite ones (including noblesse oblige in the form of living among and taking care of lower class blacks) and encouraging sensible geography.

Audacious Epigone said...


Right. The GSS only asks about arrests periodically (just one year over the period I looked at) so the sample sizes are too small but it's a safe assumption that white HS grads are at least as well behaved as blacks with associate's degrees, etc.

Black Death,

Thanks. Liberty, equality, diversity--choose one. Credentials are mediocre proxies--poor proxies when race is involved--for real characteristics. To the extent that people are accorded any liberty, they'll ignore the former in favor of figuring out the real thing.


Right, there are several attributes for which that generally applies. Temperament is but one.


The point about guessing is relevant. The question on astrology has three possible answers--one that is dead wrong, one that is sort of off, and one that is correct. The other three are dichotomous so from guessing alone we'd expect a 50% correct answer rate!

Wegie said...

"Whites more intelligent, knowledgeable than blacks at all levels of educational attainment"

This is something intelligent whites have known for centuries.

Santoculto said...

''The point about guessing is relevant.''

Real reaction intellectual times...

recovering faster the invariably correct information that was internalized = better efficiency

recovering the correct information = objectivity

this also demonstrates better ''memory 'size' ''.

intelligence is fundamentally objective

My pet metaphor about brain

Even i know ''we are our brains 'too' '', clearly, with self-awareness here, we can perceive that ''we can't have the total control of our brains'' (= nonexistent 'complete free will', by now) and people with mental disorders (to maladies) have even less control if their brains already are out of [their] control.

Our brains works and in the same challenge us and some people are very lucky because they born with the right mind, never will put them in problematic situations, specially the obvious ones.

''The question on astrology has three possible answers--one that is dead wrong, one that is sort of off, and one that is correct. The other three are dichotomous so from guessing alone we'd expect a 50% correct answer rate!''

Astrology look like primitive personality typ-ing.

Completely wrong*

I don't think so, in some aspects astrology hit superficially.

For example, many psychological traits that are correlated with ''my sign'', lion, i have.

Astrology seems correlate with the period of year we born* (or our parents did sex and our mother become pregnant of us*)

People who born during the winter are more prone to become mentally ill* (in setentrional hemisphere, december, january... in meridional hemisphere, you know)

How correlative they are it's debatable, even study-able...

I think i already read a one study about it but i don't remember the result.

Seems there is some overlaping between personality types and sign-personality types specially because most of them, sign-personalities, are quite vague, positive (no horoscope will say for you that your sign have higher propensity to become criminal, maybe lion in animal kingdom) and with little differentiation.

Human races differentiates also in the period of year they tend to born*

Santoculto said...

''Astrology seems correlate with the period of year we born* (or our parents did sex and our mother become pregnant of us*)''

Or the period our parents did sex...


Audacious Epigone said...


There is a limit to how fine-grained our analyses can be from social survey data, but on the question of whether or not astrology is scientific, "no" is the best answer.

Anonymous said...

White folks was in caves while we were building empires…. We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and those Greek homos ever got around to it.
Alfred Charles Sharpton, Jr.

Sid said...

The graphs about scientific questions are remarkable. Whites generally enjoy a positive correlation between education and knowledge. The better educated whites are, the more likely they'll correctly answer questions about electrons and evolution, astrology and antibiotics. Makes sense.

With blacks, it's all over the place. Blacks with bachelors answer questions about electrons, evolution and antibiotics correctly more frequently than black with graduate degrees do. Similarly, blacks with high school degrees answer questions correctly more frequently than blacks with some college education do.

I'm interested in hearing what people think. My guess is that educational institutions generally select whites for intelligence, whereas they select blacks for diversity and maybe for being a good role model. If you're an English Literature graduate department, for example, you'll select whites who read Victorian literature while relaxing and can read Shakespeare without appendices. Once you have enough talented people, you may as well choose a few vibrant picks who can write application essays with an admirable lack of spelling errors and can keep the dust off of your copies of Audre Lorde. As such, the correlation between intelligence and education will be stronger among whites.

Santoculto said...

I know astrology = constelations correlates with human being behavior is simply wrong.

I'm trying to understand how this weak patterns between period of year and personality was found, created.

The core purpose of astrology is at the best entertaining.

Audacious Epigone said...


It's not for lack of sample size, either. With the exception of graduate-level blacks, the samples are in the several hundreds.

Unknown128 said...

Maybe you could adress this post by Scott Alexander?

Unknown128 said...

Also what do you think of this

Grad School Black Guy said...

I find it amazing that you all have to boost your ego against a race you find inferior LOL! I love it!
Stumbled across this gem reading journal articles, ironically about this very topic
BTW, there are significantly more white respondents on most statistical data sets because... well statistically there are more whites.
Also to make a more valid point, you may want to insert some qualitative data to justify your findings, as well as categorize those statistics by region, socioeconomic level, class, etc. That would provide you with a solid ground for argument.
Overall, I like your bar charts.