Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ethnicity and mental disability

Respondents in the 2000 Census 1% Sample were asked if they have any mental disability. Prevalence grows with age, so I limited the sample to people ages 30 to 49. Here are the percentages who answered yes by race/ethnicity:

Percent with mental disability (sample size = 847,061)

Hmong 12.0
Cambodian 8.5
American Indian 7.6
Puerto Rican 6.1
African American 4.8
Laotian 5.2
Eskimo 4.5
French 4.0
Vietnamese 3.5
Scotch Irish 3.4
Irish 3.3
Finnish 3.3
French Canadian 3.2
Dominican 3.1
Dutch 3.1
English 3.0
Portuguese 3.0
Cuban 2.9
Lithuanian 2.9
Spaniard 2.9
Swedish 2.8
Scottish 2.8
Italian 2.8
Polish 2.7
Israeli 2.6
Russian 2.6
Welsh 2.6
Austrian 2.6
German 2.6
Mexican 2.4
Greek 2.3
Swiss 2.3
Ukrainian 2.4
Belgian 2.4
Danish 2.4
Hungarian 2.4
Honduran 2.4
Arabic 2.4
Norwegian 2.2
Lebanese 2.0
Guyanese 2.0
Egyptian 2.0
Slovak 1.9
Jamaican 1.9
Haitian 1.9
Iranian 1.9
Nicaraguan 1.8
Ecuadoran 1.7
Japanese 1.7
Yugoslavian 1.5
Korean 1.5
Chinese 1.5
Guatemalan 1.4
Salvadoran 1.4
Columbian 1.4
Peruvian 1.4
Pakistani 1.4
Filipino 1.4
Trinidadian 1.3
Brazilian 1.3
Turkish 1.3
Nigerian 1.1
Taiwanese 1.1
Asian Indian 1.0
Syrian 1.0
Venezuelan 0.4
Each estimate is based on hundreds if not thousands of respondents.
Those from mainlaind Southeast Asia tend to have the highest rates. Mental disability is also prevalent among American Indians, Eskimos, Puerto Ricans, and blacks. 
Most European-descended people are in the middle; southern Caucasians tend to be lower.
Eastern and Southern Asians have low rates, as do Hispanics (not from the Caribbean) and black immigrant groups. Most immigrants groups look good--these data again reinforce the view that non-Caribbean Hispanics are comparatively healthy--but I wonder if SSI fraud inflates the percentages among some groups (I know there are restrictions if you are not a citizen). The data do not support the liberal view that racist America drives immigrants crazy.    


  1. Are these data significant? They are based on self-reporting, with all the known (and unknown) errors that entails. The apparent correlation with nationality might have some sort of cultural bias regarding components of self-respect and identity.

  2. Percentages above 3.8 are significantly above the average, and those below 3.7 are signficantly below the average. There is no way to know about cultural bias.

  3. There is no way to know about cultural bias.

    I'll take a crack at that.

    1.) School systems classify some of their pupils as "retarded".

    2.) In conservative and moderate districts, generally it's over 2-to-1 black, though somewhat less in liberal districts. (Retardation reporting by race and county in Maryland). [Note: PG, Prince George's, is the blackest county in Maryland].

    3.) By eyeballing the OP figures, it looks like the white-American average is just under 3.0.

    4.) 4.8/2.9 = 1.655 (Black/White self-reporting [OP] = Ratio). 1.655 is a lower rate than one would expect if we assume school-district classifications are reasonably objective. [Ron can provide the true white-rate, but I expect the results will hold].

    5.) Conclusion: Blacks in the Census 1% Sample underreported mental-disability, or whites overreported, or the MD Student-retardation figures are wrong, or "mental-dsiability" and retardation are not comparable. (What is mental-disability then?)

    6.) Assumption based on first explanation in #5: If blacks underreported, perhaps other groups did.

    I find it hard to believe that Filipinos in the USA have the same share of mentally-disabled as Koreans.

  4. I agree with Hail. Besides MR Blacks also have higher rates of Schizophrenia, alcoholism, Bipolar disorder etc. which are considered mental disabilities by most of us. I doubt a true rank order would put them lower than American - Indians.

  5. Anonymous9:30 PM

    What's the data source for this? Any chance you could post the data along with your summary?

  6. Click on the link "2000 Census 1% Sample."

  7. Some Southeast Asians are Vietnam War refugees and were thus able to get welfare right away. A welfare culture developed among some, in contrast to other immigrants. I would imagine that a mental diagnosis is a way to get disability payments.

  8. Anonymous10:42 AM

    The poverty rates among Vietnamese-Americans are are 15% ten years ago, halving from 30+% in the 1980's.

    Much of it is actually from recent immigrants widely occurring for the past few years.

    Its likely that you're idea only applies to a general few, and in no way is peculiar.


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