Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Immigrants from all over the world beat Americans of Mexican ancestry in an English vocabulary contest: Using General Social Survey data, I list below the mean IQs for ethnic groups born in the United States, and in parentheses I list mean intelligence for immigrants (legal and illegal). I limited my analysis to categories having at least 20 cases, so some estimates are missing:

Mean IQ for native-born Americans (immigrants in parentheses)

Jewish 109.7 (95.1)
Lithuanian 106.9
Austrian 106.5 (90.4)
Russian 106.5 (91.0)
Chinese 105.7 (86.3)
English 103.9 (112.5)
Danish 103.7
Scottish 103.4 (102.1)
Hungarian 103.2
Yugoslav 103.1
Norwegian 102.7
Swiss 102.6
Swedish 102.2
Japanese 102.2
Czech 101.7
Finnish 101.4
Greek 101.3
Irish 101.1 (103.6)
Polish 101.1 (95.5)
Italian 100.9 (90.6)
French 100.1 (103.1)
German 100.0 (98.9)

USA 99.3 (92.1)

Portuguese 98.8
Filipino (95.8)
Indian (95.6)
French Canadian 99.1 (93.5)
Dutch 97.2
Spain 96.8 (95.3)
Arabic (95.1)
American Indian 92.7
African 91.6 (90.0)
Puerto Rican 91.1 (81.6)
Mexican 90.3 (83.3)

First, readers may wonder why native-born blacks don't have IQs closer to 85. This measure of IQ is based on a ten question vocabulary test, and the black-white is not as large for verbal ability. This kind of test does not validly measure the IQ of immigrants whose first langauge is not English, but it can serve as an indicator of the ease with which immigrants can assimilate into American society.

Among native-born whites, IQ tends to rise to the north, with a number of exceptions. The IQs of countries like Russia are boosted by the Jewish component, but even without Jews, the number are still quite high. Japanese and especially Chinese are high, but there are not enough native-born Filipinos to estimate their mean. Other mixed or non-white groups are at the bottom. Both Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans born here have lower scores than blacks, probably due to all the Spanish being spoken in their environments.

As for potential assimilation and success in American society, Europeans from English-speaking countries are at the top, but Europeans in general have vocabularies well beyond that of Americans of Mexican ancestry. In fact, immigrants from just about every country beat Mexican Americans in an English vocabulary contest.

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