IQ and double counting the harms of immigration

Nathan just published a lengthy and detailed critique of various critics of open borders. I think he gets many things right, but in some ways he underestimates restrictionist arguments. This isn’t entirely Nathan’s fault — restrictionists often don’t frame their arguments cogently and clearly, and it’s extremely hard to understand their arguments without spending considerable time going through them. I want to talk about one particular restrictionist argument — the IQ deficit argument, and what I think an appropriate response to this argument is. This post is not intended to address specific restrictionist critiques of IQ. I’ll do that in subsequent posts. For now, my main goal is to explain my overall position.

Now, some open borders advocates find the entire discussion of IQ off-putting and are quick to make accusations of racism and invoke negative stereotypes for restrictionists. (To take just one example of where this came up, consider the comments section of this blog post where I came under fire for engaging IQ-based arguments in the context of immigration). I do not adopt this approach for multiple reasons, most important of which is that I think some of the basic premises underlying the IQ deficit concern are valid. And, my goal in this blog post is to address IQ-based objections, not to dismiss them.

I’ll state the IQ deficit argument for immigration to the United States, though the general framework is applicable to immigration to other countries as well.

  • IQ is meaningful, measurable, and correlated with a number of real-world performance metrics. Higher IQ people tend to be more cooperative, less criminal, more innovative, better and more informed voters, etc. These correlations hold even after we control for other things such as education levels. A high IQ person without much formal education would tend to be more cooperative than a low IQ person with a similarly low formal education: Basically, I think this is correct. It seems to agree with the Mainstream Science on Intelligence and Intelligence: Known and Unknowns. Recent work by Garett Jones has strengthened economists’ appreciation of the link IQ and cooperation and its role in economic development, something whose implications I considered in this blog post.
  • Adult IQ is fairly stable (though it can go down with head injuries and certain illnesses). It cannot usually be made to go up significantly. Childhood IQ may be malleable, but we don’t quite know how to manipulate it much on the positive side, though probably malnutrition and childhood disease affect it on the negative side. I think this is broadly correct too. This also agrees with the two consensus statements above.
  • Under open borders, the average IQ of immigrants to the United States is lower than the average IQ of current United States residents: International IQ data comparisons are not very solidly established, but the preliminary evidence suggests that this is likely to be true. If Lynn and Vanhanen’s data are to be believed, then the average world IQ is about 2/3 of a standard deviation below average US IQ. I’m not very confident about this, but it’s plausible.
  • The stability of adult IQ means that even after migration, the lower average IQ of immigrants will pull down the average IQ of the United States. This seems fairly plausible to me.

At this point, Nathan jumps in and says, “Ah! Even if correct, this is not as relevant as you think. You’re committing the maximize the average fallacy and refuse to understand the comparative advantage concept.”

Not so fast, restrictionists would say. As Richard Hoste puts it, the comparative advantage argument works in the context of pure economics, but once we bring in crime and political externalities, it starts to falter. If crime rates go up, then your chance of being a crime victim goes up, all else equal (there are caveats to be added, but I’m using a simplistic picture of crime). Comparative advantage doesn’t come to the rescue here. And if low IQ means voting for bad policies (something that’s supported by Caplan’s research) then low IQ immigration would lead to negative political externalities.

So, I don’t think the comparative advantage argument is quite the right way to tackle the IQ deficit concern. So what is? I think we need to step back a bit and be clearer about how IQ matters to the moral and practical considerations that come up with respect to immigration and its effect on natives and immigrants. Does IQ matter in and of itself (as some indication of moral worth or desert), or does it matter because of its correlation with things like crime or political beliefs or social capital or what-have-you? It’s only the rare IQ elitist who argues that IQ is morally significant in and of itself. Most people who believe in the importance of IQ believe in it because it’s correlated with a lot of other things like crime, political beliefs, etc.

This brings me to the crux of my objection to the IQ deficit concern. If lower immigrant IQ raises concerns about higher immigrant crime rates or wrong political beliefs, then that should show up in the evidence on immigrant crime rates and political beliefs. If it does show up there, then great, score a point for restrictionists, and now that we’ve done that, what additional information does immigrants’ IQ deficit give us? By saying that immigrants commit crime and that immigrants have a low IQ which means they would commit more crime, it seems like restrictionists are double counting crime.

What if restrictionists are unsuccessful in demonstrating higher immigrant crime? That does seem to be the case with current levels of immigration to the United States. As things stand today, the foreign-born have lower crime rates than natives both in total and for every ethnicity and for every combination of ethnicity and high school graduation status.

Some restrictionists look these data in the eye and say, “Immigrants have lower IQ, therefore they must be committing more crime, no matter what the data say.” I think the data on crime rates aren’t wrong, so let me engage restrictionists by offering alternative explanations within their explanatory framework of low IQ being correlated with higher crime rates. The first possibility is that the restrictionists may be wrong about their claim of lower IQ of current immigrants to the United States. The second possibility is that there may be certain other differences between the foreign-born and native-born Americans that compensate for the lower average IQ to push the overall averages in the other direction. Those differences may be in terms of the culture or in terms of the structural incentives and constraints faced by the foreign-born relative to natives. But whatever the story, I think that when restrictionists find that a particular predicted ill-effect of low immigrant IQ fails to materialize, then they should give up on that and concentrate on the other claimed bad effects. And, perhaps, also double-check their claim of lower immigrant IQ while they’re at it.

So my overall claim is that restrictionists who think the IQ framework is a good overarching framework within which to fit their objections can certainly offer this framework. But they should not double count harms by both including the harm itself and the IQ deficit channel for the harm as separate harms. And if a harm predicted by IQ deficit fails to materialize, they should sportingly concede the point and move on. Which means that IQ deficit ultimately serves only as a framework, not as an argument in and of itself.

I will now address a few possible objections that restrictionists might raise to what I’ve said above.

First restrictionist objection: IQ is easily measurable in the immigrants’ home countries; the claimed harms of immigration are not so easily measurable until the immigration has happened

The idea here is that since IQ has predictive power for determining crime rates, social pathologies, and political orientation, and these are not as easily measured as IQ, we should use IQ as a proxy for predicting these until data on these surface. That would be a reasonable argument for those things that can’t be measured as easily as IQ. However, I think that in practice, most social indicators are measured to a much greater extent than is IQ. It’s much easier to get a nation’s crime data, often broken down by ethnicity, age, and gender, than to get its IQ data. Summaries of national crime data for most big nations is available on Wikipedia, with each nation getting a page, or even multiple pages, on crime information in that nation. Similarly, data on political views and political orientation are widely available in the form of how people vote in elections and how they respond to opinion polls — conducted widely with clear methodologies. International IQ data tends to be fairly patchy in comparison — the best I know of is in Lynn and Vanhanen’s data (note: the data at the link is not their latest; the latest isn’t available on the web but you can get it from their their book), and a lot of it involves a few studies conducted several years ago and averaged using very rough assumptions. I’m not trying to find fault with Lynn and Vanhanen, who have done a thorough and meticulous job with the data available. I’m just saying that it’s highly unlikely that there will be situations where the IQ data is so much more reliable than the data on crime or political views that, considering a far less than perfect correlation between IQ and whatever we’re actually interested in measuring, it would make sense to use the IQ data instead of the direct data on crime or political views. Even the marginal improvement from adding the IQ data to the mix would, I suspect, be quite low. [btw, the within-country and between-country correlations between IQ and crime rates are quite impressive by social science standards. But they’re still way short of 1, and IQ data is likely more unreliable, which is what I need to make my case.]

What about predicting the behavior of people from communities that don’t have a track record of sending immigrants (so we can’t measure the crime rates of immigrant communities to estimate the crime rates of potential immigrants)? In this case, it makes most sense to look at the indicators back in their homelands. I carried out precisely this sort of exercise to consider what crime might look like in the US under open borders. Again, data about indicators such as crime and welfare dependency in the source countries of migration is likely to be more readily available and more reliable than IQ data, so by the criterion above, the IQ data doesn’t add a lot of value.

Second restrictionist objection: IQ and second generation immigrants

The second type of objection that I think some restrictionists may raise is that given the high heritability of IQ, we can predict things about second-generation immigrants. Further, even if immigrants are self-selected on various measures that cause them to avoid social pathology despite low IQ (or fear deportation, something which natives don’t have to fear), their children inherit the low IQ but not the protective self-selection or the deportation deterrent. Thus, for instance, even if low IQ immigrants commit fewer crimes for fear of deportation or because they don’t want to risk their necks in a foreign land, their children, who are US citizens from the get-go, lack those inhibiting features. Thus, the low IQ rears its ugly head in the second generation, not for the immigrants themselves. The restrictionist would then point out that this downstream effect would be hard to predict without the conceptual framework that includes IQ and heritability.

However, it is still a prediction that is empirically testable. What can we say about second-generation and third-generation “immigrants” in terms of how they perform? The results are mixed. Second-generation “immigrants” assimilate to the higher crime rates seen in natives, or more specifically, to the higher crime rates seen in the natives of their ethnic group. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they are more linguistically assimilated and come closer to attaining median US levels of education, income, etc. Sam Wilson finds that they also pretty much assimilate to natives in terms of their political beliefs. (From a libertarian point of view, that’s nothing to write home about, but it’s not quite a disaster either). Again, I’d go back to my original point: if restrictionists are able to show something bad about second-generation or third-generation immigrants, that may be a point scored against immigration. Even if IQ offers an explanatory framework for these findings, it doesn’t provide another point. Particularly considering that inter-group comparisons in the context of migration often tend to surprise rather than confirm priors, I don’t think the IQ predictions should be treated as “almost certainly correct” without independent confirming evidence through actual study of the behavior of second generation and third generation “immigrants.” Thus, I think that restricting the migration of a group because of what second and third generation immigrants from the group might do purely based on the expected IQ of the group is completely unjustified.

20 thoughts on “IQ and double counting the harms of immigration”

  1. Great post; this is something I’ve been thinking of writing about as well. My view is that the metric of IQ matters, because it tends to correlate to a lot of things we care about. However, we don’t actually know what IQ itself is truly measuring.

    Where a lot of restrictionists go astray is assuming IQ primarily measures innate, inheritable intelligence. If this were actually literally true, I don’t think we would be seeing phenomena like the Flynn effect, or societies of obviously talented people in say, aboriginal communities, scoring lowly on IQ tests even while they are capable of complex tasks which many high-IQ people would find difficult. The point you hint at in your closing para I think gets at what I suspect IQ really measures: some difficult-to-state metric of how well one fits into a developed society’s modes of thinking, socialising, and/or communicating. I would go as far as to suggest that IQ may just be primarily measuring culture, not genetics.

    IQ deficits thus don’t worry me, because I don’t think people’s descendants are condemned by their genes to be low-IQ forever. IQ is certainly affected by genetics, but also by how one has been raised and matured (otherwise, how to explain its intergenerational instability?). Moreover, since IQ itself is unimportant — its importance stems from how it correlates to outcomes we do care about, such as crime, economic empowerment, and ability to socialise — it’s those meaningful outcomes which we should focus on. And as you say, all the data there hardly amounts to a case for restrictionism.

    1. Hi John,

      You write “IQ may just be primarily measuring culture, not genetics.” I think that’s wrong — the heritability of IQ is quite high. However, a more moderate form of this position is that IQ differences within the same culture are determined largely by genetics, but IQ differences between cultures have more of a cultural explanation. My own views on this are that the group differences data are not clear enough to draw clear conclusions. It may well be the case that group differences in IQ are due to the same factors as those responsible for the Flynn effect. But it may well turn out that these differences are due to genetic differences between groups. Or some combination of these factors.

      So, restrictionists’ arguments about the descendants of immigrants inheriting their low IQ *may* be correct. Further, if immigrants live in isolated immigrant communities, then even the “culture” explanation would suggest persistence of low IQ. As with everything else, though, the relevant thing to look at is not the IQ of the descendants of immigrants, but the outcomes such as crime, political beliefs, etc. Which is my fundamental point.

      Personally, I find the topic of IQ quite fascinating and am curious about its role as an explanatory factor for a wide range of phenomena. So I don’t have anything against restrictionists using IQ as an explanatory factor for phenomena that they can actually observe and demonstrate. My main objection is when they use IQ data *instead* of the actual metrics they should be looking at (crime rates, etc.), specially when it contradicts what a direct measurement of those metrics tells us, simply because it bolsters the restrictionist case.

  2. A couple of things:

    There is no evidence for Hispanic-White convergence in IQ.

    This is true after several generations.

    Average IQ is highly predictive of not just social ills such as crime, but of overall economic vitality: see Richard Lynn’s and Tatu Vanhanen’s IQ data (link provided, but removed pending confirmation of copyright permissions). L&V have found a strong correlation between average IQ and national wealth, as has been illustrated by myself and others. Importing low-IQ immigrants will only serve to drag down the economic vitality of the United States (as it already does), as the PIIGS demonstrate in Europe.

    That’s not even to get into the wage suppression issue that immigrants (both high- and low-IQ) cause.

    As such, despite what John Lee says…

    “or societies of obviously talented people in say, aboriginal communities, scoring lowly on IQ tests even while they are capable of complex tasks which many high-IQ people would find difficult.”

    …though there are cognitive specialties that vary outside overall IQ score, as Greg Cochran put it, IQ is the only game in town.

    1. JayMan,

      I’ve removed your link to L&V’s latest book pending confirmation from you that this is not in violation of copyright. As I understand, the book is sold here and the PDF e-book version is 9 GBP (UK currency) so I doubt that the authors would have consented to have the book PDF freely available online. But if you can confirm that they have, I will restore the link.

      I will address the details of your comment in a subsequent comment.

    2. JayMan, thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your willingness to engage my arguments and educate me on these issues [btw, your comment was held for moderation because WordPress automatically holds any post with multiple links — I’ll change the settings so that your posts are not held for moderation in the future].

      As I’m sure you understand from reading my post, my post does *not* make the claim of IQ convergence, or of the irrelevance of IQ to any of the things being measured. The only claim my post makes is that IQ-based restrictionists should be honest about not double counting the harms of immigration through the direct and indirect (IQ-based) channel. And, where the direct evidence contradicts what IQ might predict, they should concede the point and move on.

      Please let me know if you disagree with this central claim, and with my reasoning behind it, and if so, why.

      Regarding the points you raise:

      (1) I think there is considerable empirical debate on the issue of Hispanic-White IQ differences and their convergence. I don’t know enough about this issue to firmly say whether Ron Unz is right or you are. Perhaps I will form a firmer opinion on the issue with time, but for now, I’m quite agnostic about it.

      (2) Regarding your taking issue with John Lee’s argument regarding aboriginal people’s ability to do complex tasks that is not reflected in their IQ scores, I again don’t have a firm opinion, though I am more of a believer in IQ than John Lee, which means my position is probably closer to you. However, the case of aboriginal people gives me pause because their culture is often *radically* different from modern civilisation, which means that John Lee’s point may well be applicable in that context, even if less valid to, for instance, explaining IQ differences between Gentiles and Jews. I’ll reiterate that I don’t have a firm opinion, and I would tend to side more with you, though without being too sure.

      (3) You mention L&V’s work. I’ve read their books IQ&TWON and Intelligence: A Unifying Construct. From what I recall of IQ&TWON, a crude summary is that IQ explains 1/3 of the variation in national per capita GDP, economic freedom explains another 1/3, and miscellaneous other factors explains the remaining 1/3. Now, explaining 1/3 of the variation (which means a correlation of around 0.6) is pretty impressive by social science standards. But it still falls *way* short of explaining all the variation, which leads me back to my original point — why not directly measure the thing we’re claiming to measure, rather than using IQ as a proxy?

      (4) In fact, I’m fairly convinced that on the economic side of things, the comparative advantage argument does work and people worried about declining averages are committing the maximize the average fallacy. This is why I focus my attention on crime and political externalities, two areas where the comparative advantage argument does not work and where restrictionist concerns about IQ deserve to be taken more seriously. In a previous post, I considered what L&V’s IQ research can tell us about international development and immigration (see also this follow-up post).

      (5) You quote Greg Cochran as saying that IQ may be the only game in town. Cochran is making this claim specifically in the context of measurement of cognitive ability. In this context, Cochran may well be right — IQ may be the only game in town. But it is most definitely *not* the only game in town when determining such things as criminality or earning potential or political orientation. And that is what I try to address in this post.

      1. “From what I recall of IQ&TWON, a crude summary is that IQ explains 1/3 of the variation in national per capita GDP, economic freedom explains another 1/3, and miscellaneous other factors explains the remaining 1/3. Now, explaining 1/3 of the variation (which means a correlation of around 0.6) is pretty impressive by social science standards.”

        No single variable explains more of the variance in national per capita incomes. (Also note that the relationship between national wealth and IQ is curvilinear. Small differences in the average, especially at the high end, lead to large differences in national wealth.)

        As well, as with variation in income among individuals, while IQ alone explains a lot of the variance, though not all of it, other heritable factors explain a good share of the rest. With respect to differences between nations, these differences include level of trust and ability to function in civic societies, which varies a great deal between different human groups, is particularly different between Northwest European Americans and Mexicans.

        “In fact, I’m fairly convinced that on the economic side of things, the comparative advantage argument does work and people worried about declining averages are committing the maximize the average fallacy.”

        This view is justified by the evidence. There is no country in the developed world that seems to have benefited from low-IQ immigration, and indeed, very much the opposite. With no tangible evidence of any benefit, and plenty of evidence of harm, why encourage such immigration?

        This is not even to get into the issue of social cohesion, which is objectively weakened in multi-ethnic societies.

        1. JayMan, you write: “No single variable explains more of the variance in national per capita incomes.”

          Well, no. National per capita income explains 100% of the variance in national per capita incomes. That’s a lot more than how much IQ explains.

          You may think I’m just being difficult here, but this is the essence of my point. Measure the things you’re trying to measure, don’t treat IQ as an additional reason.

          The rest of your comment raises a lot of issues that are quite orthogonal to the content of this post. When I write a post about IQ, I do not consider it my job to address all of the other millions of critiques of immigration. I created the whole site for exactly that purpose — so I hope you’ll forgive me for not addressing every single critique of immigration in every single blog post.

          You also write: “while IQ alone explains a lot of the variance, though not all of it, other heritable factors explain a good share of the rest. With respect to differences between nations, these differences include level of trust and ability to function in civic societies, which varies a great deal between different human groups, is particularly different between Northwest European Americans and Mexicans.”

          Excellent point. But since it’s not a point about IQ, it’s not directly relevant to my original post. I will get to discussions about heritabilities of traits in general in a future post, and I will definitely address the issues you raise.

          You write: “This view is justified by the evidence.”

          Evidence about “declining averages” is not evidence that natives were hurt by immigration. That’s what you would need to establish, and the evidence regarding that is pretty weak (though not non-existent). And the offsetting benefits to natives seem to be greater. Anyway, that’s what the whole site is about, I’m not going to trot out the entire argument of the site in this comment.

          You write: “This is not even to get into the issue of social cohesion, which is objectively weakened in multi-ethnic societies.”

          Another excellent point. I’ve discussed this under social capital decline and other heterogeneity-related harms to immigrant-receiving countries. But I will blog more about this. It’s definitely not an issue I intend to shy from.

          1. “You may think I’m just being difficult here, but this is the essence of my point. Measure the things you’re trying to measure, don’t treat IQ as an additional reason.”

            It’s not exactly optimal discourse, no. We find in the world that there is considerable variation in national per capita incomes. We then to explain why this variation exists. So far, the strongest single other correlate is national IQ, indicating that it’s a huge part of the puzzle. It makes sense to then focus on national IQ because of its demonstrated predictive power.

            ” ‘while IQ alone explains a lot of the variance, though not all of it, other heritable factors explain a good share of the rest. With respect to differences between nations, these differences include level of trust and ability to function in civic societies, which varies a great deal between different human groups, is particularly different between Northwest European Americans and Mexicans.’

            Excellent point. But since it’s not a point about IQ, it’s not directly relevant to my original post. I will get to discussions about heritabilities of traits in general in a future post, and I will definitely address the issues you raise.”

            Please do so. Otherwise, you seem to be artificially limiting the scope of the discussion. Your original post is about the negative externalities causes by low-IQ immigrants thanks to their lowered IQ. However, these negative externalities are not caused solely by low IQ!. To then focus on impact from IQ alone to defend low-IQ immigration is rather intellectually dishonest. If you feel that’s outside the scope of this particular post, then fine, I understand that. I look forward to discussing it in the place you see fit.

            “Evidence about “declining averages” is not evidence that natives were hurt by immigration. That’s what you would need to establish, and the evidence regarding that is pretty weak (though not non-existent). “

            Muslim Crime Gangs in Denmark

            Muslim criminal gangs destroying Sweden and Scandinavia as a whole.mp4 – YouTube

            Muslim rape wave in Sweden

            These riots were about race. Why ignore the fact? – Telegraph Blogs

            Immigrants and Welfare Programmes: Exploring the Interactions between Immigrant Characteristics, Immigrant Welfare Dependence and Welfare Policy

            Russian Reporter: “In certain parts of Paris, its nearly impossible to find a Frenchman”

            These are just from a cursory Google search. There is much more evidence like it.

            Even with the most optimistic way of looking at it, in many European countries, you go from a situation where crime, especially violent crime, is virtually non-existent to where it becomes much more common. That’s clear evidence of harm and a fine argument against low-IQ immigration all by itself.

            “And the offsetting benefits to natives seem to be greater.”

            Especially in light of the above, that would clearly be your case to prove.

            “Anyway, that’s what the whole site is about, I’m not going to trot out the entire argument of the site in this comment.”

            Fair enough. I look forward to seeing evidence of the benefit low-IQ immigrants have bestowed upon the high-IQ countries that have received them.

  3. “Second-generation “immigrants” assimilate to the higher crime rates seen in natives, or more specifically, to the higher crime rates seen in the natives of their ethnic group. That’s the bad news.”

    Right, if migration is not particularly selective, one can model the effects as a shift in the ethnic mix of the population, which can be big because there are large differences in relative frequency of crime across ethnic groups.

    “The good news is that they are more linguistically assimilated and come closer to attaining median US levels of education, income, etc. Sam Wilson finds that they also pretty much assimilate to natives in terms of their political beliefs.”

    As I said in the comment thread on Sam Wilson’ s results, this is misleading. As you just noted with crime, later generations assimilate politically to natives of their ethnic group. And there are large differences in political beliefs and behaviors by ethnic group. Wilson’s work obscures most of the political impact of mass migration (with political integration) by controlling for ethnic group, despite the fact that migrant flows under most proposed policies, including current policy, will differ heavily from the existing ethnic mix of the United States.

  4. ” Even if IQ offers an explanatory framework for these findings, it doesn’t provide another point.”

    I think recent discussions here show that this post is missing something: we can look at the small-scale individual behavior of migrants in recipient countries, but it’s harder to measure how their externalities affect the society as a whole (since to be measurable one needs large changes, and enough time for the changes to take effect, but migration of the type and quantity open borders would produce is unprecedented).

    Say we look at multiethnic societies like Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and so forth to estimate impacts. There will be confounding factors like latitude and founder effects. How much to weight these different hypotheses in predicting the large-scale impacts of novel forms of mass-migration from populations that have tended to systematically underperform economically as minorities and majorities? The more causal channels we find by which migrants make recipient countries more like these multiethnic examples, the less relative weight we should put on the non-transferable explanations (e.g. equatorial temperatures making people too tired to work would not predict low performance in Sweden). So evidence about IQ, or social capital and diversity does wind up mattering to prediction of outcomes.

    1. Good point, BK. I think one point you are (sort of) making is that IQ can be a counterpoint to people who claim that immigrants, when they leave their home country, will magically leave behind all the bad things about their home country and transform into average or near-average people in the country they are going into. For instance, if somebody claims that the only reason Africa is poor is because of latitude (!), and Africans who leave Africa for icier pastures would leave behind all the things that make Africa poor, IQ is a powerful counterpoint.

      However, while some open borders advocates are fond of making these kinds of arguments that can be shot down with IQ, I’m not. And, as far as I can make out, neither are the other open borders advocates on this blog. We aren’t making strong claims that people’s characteristics will magically change when they move to rich countries. The only main claim we make in this regard is the place premium claim, but this is a claim backed by specific empirical evidence and theoretical justification (albeit stuff you might disagree with), not a hand-wave. In my analysis of crime in the US under open borders, for instance, I listed some speculation of why crime rates for immigrants from a country might still be lower than crime rates in the source country even under open borders, but I was not making strong use of that speculation.

      Also, as I noted in both the IQ and the crime post, in most of these cases, there are direct measures of how the immigrant groups perform in the countries that receive them. Admittedly, these aren’t the same as estimates of what might happen under open borders, but if they contradict what IQ measures would predict, this should give pause to people who are using IQ to guide their thinking.

      My hope is that the claims made on the open borders site are quite robust to differing and competing explanations of “why are some nations rich, and others poor?” Such robustness is crucial because a lot is unknown about the story of development and getting rich and we cannot hinge the case for open borders on a narrow theory that might prove to be wrong.

      1. “latitude”

        I mentioned latitude because Nathan brought it up in our discussion as an attenuating factor on the low incomes of several multiethnic societies.

        “but if they contradict what IQ measures would predict, this should give pause to people who are using IQ to guide their thinking”

        I haven’t seen claims of such contradiction.

        1. BK, I was referring to the low crime rates of first generation immigrants relative to what IQ measures might suggest.

          Admittedly, the second generation bites back.

  5. “But they should not double count harms by both including the harm itself and the IQ deficit channel for the harm as separate harms.”

    Agreed.

    “And, perhaps, also double-check their claim of lower immigrant IQ while they’re at it.”

    Here was my analysis of the 2003 NAALS

    http://occidentalascent.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/the-performance-of-our-new-americans-in-the-national-assessments-of-adult-literacy-naal/

    No convergence.

    The linked post above also contains links to more than a dozen other posts in which this topic has been discussed.

    Again, no convergence.

    “But it still falls *way* short of explaining all the variation, which leads me back to my original point — why not directly measure the thing we’re claiming to measure, rather than using IQ as a proxy?”

    But you are correct that IQ is just the “explanatory framework.” And that the problem isn’t the IQ differences per se but rather the outcome differences, and the repercussions of these, that the IQ differences condition. I don’t think that anyone is arguing otherwise.

    “Thus, I think that restricting the migration of a group because of what second and third generation immigrants from the group might do purely based on the expected IQ of the group is completely unjustified.”

    But who is really advocating this?

    Let’s take a real life restrictionist like myself. Part of the reason that I oppose continued immigration, of the same type, from Latin America is:

    (1) The current immigrants from Latin America have low levels of human capital (e.g., IQ).
    (2) This low level of Human capital conditions outcome differences (e.g., education and income).
    (3) These outcome differences lead Hispanics to support policies that I oppose (e.g., big government) and these differences lead Progressives to:
    (a) impose discriminatory policies against natives like myself to “rectify” the differences (e.g., affirmative action and disparate impact)
    (b) and accuse natives like myself of gross injustice on the account of the existence of these outcome differences.

    (For reference, here is an all too common discussion of the outcome differences:

    “In the United States, the Hispanic and black categories serve as markers for minority status and its accompanying experiences of discrimination and disadvantage. Hispanic and black children face much higher rates of poverty, particularly persistent poverty, than do white children…

    As table 4 shows, initiatives that substantially raise both enrollment in and the quality of center care for low-income children could narrow racial and ethnic school readiness gaps considerably, reducing black-white gaps by up to 24 percent and Hispanic-white gaps by up to 36 percent. In addition, table 2 indicates that race- or ethnicity-specific increases in enrollment—in particular, increasing the enrollment of Hispanic children but not that of white children—could also narrow school readiness gaps. Other changes would also improve black and Hispanic children’s school readiness, but would not reduce racial and ethnic gaps much, because they would also improve white children’s achievement. If raising black and Hispanic children’s school readiness regardless of their relative levels of achievement is a goal, then these changes should be considered. (“Early Childhood Care and Education: Effects on Ethnic and Racial Gaps in School Readiness”)”)

    (4) Whatever their cause, these human capital differences persist generation after generation.

    (5) Importantly, Latin American immigrants across generations do not oppose the discriminatory policies against people like myself. Rather, they support it.

    And what is your reply?

    That I don’t have a right to oppose that migration of people when this migration leads to an injustice against myself — despite that fact that these people do not, themselves, more than not oppose this injustice?

  6. “So my overall claim is that restrictionists who think the IQ framework is a good overarching framework within which to fit their objections can certainly offer this framework. But they should not double count harms by both including the harm itself and the IQ deficit channel for the harm as separate harms.”

    Ok, but populations could vary in g and in other personality traits independently. And it’s not clear to what extent non-g differences are reducible to g differences for all populations under discussion. For example, populations seem to vary in g and in k, but it’s not clear to what extent k differences are explainable solely by g differences. Refer to the discussion herein:

    Meisenberg, G., & Woodley, M. A. Global behavioral variation: A test of differential-K. Personality and Individual Differences (2012).
    http://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/global-variation.pdf

    You note: “I think the data on crime rates aren’t wrong, so let me engage restrictionists by offering alternative explanations within their explanatory framework of low IQ being correlated with higher crime rates. The first possibility is that the restrictionists may be wrong about their claim of lower IQ of current immigrants to the United States. The second possibility is that there may be certain other differences between the foreign-born and native-born Americans that compensate for the lower average IQ to push the overall averages in the other direction.”

    The divergence between g differences and criminality differences is a good reason for why nationalists should note both. On the population level, the presence of the former doesn’t seem to necessitate the presence of the latter, which isn’t horribly surprising, in my opinion, given the weak correlation between the two on the individual level.

    What’s odd is that you find it perplexing that nationalists would mention both g differences and criminality differences — the redundancy! — and then you find it perplexing that these same individuals don’t recognize that population differences in g don’t always match population differences in criminality. Let me suggest a framework for understanding this curiosity: These individuals do recognize the latter. And they conceptualize that the two traits differences are ambiguously related. Because they recognize that criminality differences don’t necessarily follow from IQ differences, when the latter exist, they identify them.

    Now, on top of the causal ambiguity, there is another issue. Many people are unaware of the extent of the g-nexus, that is, the extent to which g influences behavior. So, while in some instances it might be logically redundant to refer to both g and non g differences, it is not necessarily unjustified; doing so can inform interlocutors of the content of g differences.

    Given the ambiguous relationship between g and non-g personality traits and given the under-appreciation of the influence of g, it doesn’t seem unreasonable, then, to “double count.” Not doing so would be equivalent to “selling short.”

    1. “Which means that IQ deficit ultimately serves only as a framework, not as an argument in and of itself.”

      Ok, I reread your post and now better understand what you are saying. Generally, I disagree with your main point that, “Even if IQ offers an explanatory framework for these findings, it doesn’t provide another point.” Insofar as IQ refers to the ability to solve novel problems or to the ability to learn and to comprehend, it does. This is because in addition to the unwanted outcome differences that the IQ differences lead to in the current environment, IQ differences have the potential to lead to novel unwanted differences in future environments. Understood as such (as differences in the ability to solve novel problems), IQ differences are not merely the cause of currently unwanted outcomes x, y, and z but they are also the potential cause of future unwanted outcomes a, b, and c. (Naturally, it’s difficult to specify what those potential outcomes might be.) I think then that the naive appraisal that IQ differences are more than the sum of their current manifestation is correct. You were offering us a false choice when you said: “Does IQ matter in and of itself (as some indication of moral worth or desert), or does it matter because of its correlation with things like crime or political beliefs or social capital or what-have-you?” IQ matters because it’s associated with currently valued outcomes AND because, based on its track record, it likely will be associated with outcomes, unknown presently, which will be valued in the future.

      1. Thanks for your thought-provoking comments, Chuck. I will be sure to address these in my follow-up post on IQ, which I plan to do eventually (probably in a month or so). I’m glad I procrastinated with doing that post, because I can now address some of the excellent points you make in these comments.

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