# Open borders and the economic frontier, part 1

This will be the first of three posts on the topic of “open borders and the economic frontier.”

I am indebted to commenter BK for making the major subject of my academic research, on the basis of which I hope to make my name as an academic economist, relevant to this blog. In a long series of comments at my post “The American polity can endure and flourish under open borders,” and previously at “Garett Jones responds…” BK digs up some numbers and makes a sort of loose empirical case, based on the experience of what Amy Chua calls “market-dominant minorities” in many countries around the world, that segregation of humanity based on cognitive ability, with race as a proxy, actually makes the world economy as a whole more productive:

Chinese-Singaporeans generate income almost twice as great in mostly Chinese Singapore as the large Chinese-Malaysian minority does in Malaysia (about $70,000 per annum vs about$38,000), even though there are less than 3 million Chinese in Singapore but almost 7 million in Malaysia. But the Chinese make up 75% of Singapore vs 25% of Malaysia…

There is a Chinese elite, but this isn’t enough to fix the institutions, which have to represent the general population. All this occurred in the context of strong legal discrimination in favor of Malay majority, racialized anti-business sentiment, and big gaps in political views between Chinese and non-Chinese Malaysians. Using the above statistics, if the Chinese-Malaysians could have done as well as Singapore by also seceding from Malaysia into Chinese-dominated countries, total GDP of the region would rise substantially just from letting the Chinese-Malaysians free of the Malaysian electorate, even if incomes back in Malaysia plummeted. But it gets even better: Singapore lets in millions of guest workers from non-Chinese Malaysia, among other places, who send back huge quantities of remittances. Singapore generates more innovations in science and technology with positive spillovers for the rest of the world.

Basically, patterns like this seem to suggest that total GDP and welfare are much increased by international segregation by IQ and other characteristics contributing to productivity and performance, and that giving every country in the world demographics representative of the world would be devastating…

I’ll try the analysis again for a different region, randomly selected to be Africa.

The obvious data are the economic evolution of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and South Africa after universal suffrage and the end of apartheid. This is complicated by the fact that both countries were suffering economically from crippling sanctions before majority rule, as well as internal racial conflict which were then lifted and replaced with foreign aid as part of an intentional effort to make post-suffrage conditions better than pre-suffrage conditions.

In Zimbabwe the aggregate economic effects have not been good, despite the moral virtues of eliminating the old racist system (which economically inefficiently prevented smart black Rhodesians from competing with white skilled labor, in addition to its other nasty features)…

In South Africa growth has been better than during the period of severe sanctions, but disappointing expectations, combined with big blows to life expectancy and human development, in part through policy such as denial that HIV causes AIDS..

In 2009 Whites in South Africa earned about R136k Asian R56k, mixed-race or “coloured” 28k, and black 19k. The population numbers today (from wikipedia) are 9.2%, 2.6%, 8.8% and 79.4%. So rounding up 40% of income was going to whites, 5% to Asians, 8% to mixed-race people, and 48% to blacks. A just-finished census reports that income disparities and population ratios are about as estimated then, and GDP per capita overall is $11,900, with the white South African income. So, it seems that world GDP would not be much increased if the South African whites had all been shipped to the United Kingdom… Next look: Latin America, first checking Brazil and Mexico, selected as the top two on this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_American_countries_by_population and making up over 300 million people by themselves. There, self-identified whites have GDP per capita far below the EU average, or Portugal or Spain (European ancestry is mostly from the colonial powers but not a huge majority). However both countries are heavily admixed, so self-identification translates to a different ancestry than places with less mixture. Brazil seems to be >(2/3) European genetically, with Mexico self-identified ‘Mestizo’ somewhat less (they make up about 80% of the population. So comparing self-identified Portugese-ancestry ‘whites’ does not give us a clear comparison group to match against Portugal. We can say that if one could proportionally scale up the population of Europe (weighted across European countries by their contribution to the Mexican and Brazilian populations, so especially Spain and Portugal) by the population of these countries multiplied by their European ancestry, total world GDP would be substantially increased, despite the fact that Portugal and Spain are relative economic laggards within Europe… This is a strikingly good numerical analysis to appear in blog post comments! Scoring it not on an ordinary blog-post-comment scale, but on a peer-reviewed academic journal scale, I find it to be rather weak, but still not easy to defeat. What BK purports to show empirically may be summarized (I think) thus: 1. There is a correlation between the predominant race in a country, and its level of development. 2. Similar race-income correlations are observed in many countries, with the races that comprise the populations of the wealthiest countries tending to be the most productive members of societies in which they are the minority as well. 3. But productive races tend to be less productive when they are minorities than when they are in the majority. 4. Moreover, the gap in productivity between members of productive races in countries where they are the politically dominant majority, vs. countries where they are market-dominant minorities, is large enough that segregating market-dominant minorities into separate economic communities, assuming their productivity would then rise to the level currently observed in countries where the same race is the majority, would raise world GDP, no matter how negative the effect of such segregation might be on the poorer majorities thus left behind. 5. Applying this to migration policy, an open borders policy that undid the segregation currently built into the world order, turning the racial majorities in the Western and East Asian countries at the economic frontier into domestic minorities, would likely reduce global GDP. 6. Admittedly, in the short run, global desegregation might have effects that could be regarded as desirable even if it did reduce average GDP, if, as the logic of the examples suggests, it reduced global inequality. 7. However, in the long run, what matters most is how fast the economic frontier moves forward. If progress at the frontier is slowed, all future generations will suffer, and by their numbers, they easily outweigh the welfare of the current inhabitants of the earth in any utilitarian calculus. Because ideas are non-rival, progress at the economic frontier probably depends on global GDP, with a larger global GDP meaning a larger market for all goods. Therefore, we should protect future generations by maintaining the kind of global segregation that facilitates the maintenance of wealth-fostering institutions. By the way, Open Borders’ page “Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs” quotes writers (Two Things and ParaPundit) with views similar to BK’s, along with a rebuttal that I wrote even before Open Borders: The Case existed. I must admit that at that time, the arguments of Two Things and ParaPundit struck me as absurd. Now, thanks to BK, I take them more seriously, though I still disagree. As I observed even then, the striking thing about this argument against open borders is that it accepts, or at least is consistent with, a utilitarian-universalist ethical perspective. It is a refreshing change from the oft-heard restrictionist line that closed borders helps “us,” or certain groups within the “us,” and that it hurts “them” is not our problem. It would be overreaching to claim that the numerical patterns BK notes support the idea that the current worldwide migration control regime is optimal, and BK doesn’t claim that. In one comment, BK said that the keyhole solution I proposed in Principles of a Free Society “sounds fine, as long as the price of citizenship isn’t set too low.” He seems to favor expanded immigration from high-IQ countries like China and Russia. So why am I not convinced? First, I’d like to see a stronger theory behind the race/cognitive ability => institutions causal link. “IQ varies systematically across racial/national groups” + “low-IQ voters support bad policies” only applies (if at all) to democracies, and many of the patterns in institutional quality that BK observes seem to antedate widespread democratization. Even whether it applies in democracies can be questioned, given that the “self-interested voter hypothesis” seems to be false, Second, the fact that many of the countries with productive races in the role of market-dominant minorities are located in the tropics casts doubt on BK’s analysis. Worldwide, countries in the tropics tend to be a lot poorer. Why that is so is not clear. David Landes, in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, suggests a few reasons, including disease (usually more of a problem in tropical climes) and the simple fact that it’s hard to work when it’s hot. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel suggests another explanation: that the package of domesticable plants and animals in temperate zones is more favorable to development, and especially that the Eurasian landmass was not only well-endowed with them to begin with but, because civilization began early, had a lot of time to breed them into maximum usefulness. The tropics are at a disdavantage because the crops best perfected by man tend not to grow well there. I’m not sure whether this has been studied, but another possibility is that there’s less need to work hard in the tropics, since one doesn’t need as much clothing or fuel, nor perhaps as much housing, outdoors being usable year round for purposes that would have to be done indoors in colder climes. Some of these causal links might work through culture in the long run rather than directly, in which case we would not expect people from temperate cultures to be less productive when transplanted to the tropics. But if tropical location lowers productivity, then much of the poverty of Spanish American whites relative to their European counterparts in continental Europe might be explained by geography, leaving less to be explained by the race/cognitive ability => institutions link. And yes, Singapore is tropical despite being in the tropics, but it seems to be very much an outlier. Note, too, that South Africa, which is not in the tropics, was where BK didn’t find evidence of a penalty to whites for being in the minority. Third, in many of the cases BK looks at, white or Northeast Asian minorities came as immigrants or even colonialists, and consequently are viewed as outsiders or even as past enemies. This factor would not cross-apply to migrants to an enlightened US or western Europe which opened its borders. The contrast between Russia and the US in the 19th century is instructive. Both were continental empires with highly diverse populations, but in Russia these diverse peoples had been brought under Russian imperial rule by colonization and/or conquest, whereas in the US these diverse peoples had arrived as immigrants. Russian imperial subjects had never consented to rule from Moscow, and I think (partly from regional expertise in this case, as I’ve studied Russian history a fair amount, and lived in a lot of post-Soviet republics, and speak Russian) that this is an important reason why they never “assimilated” as ethnic groups in America, nor developed the same kind of loyalty to the Russian state. Consequently, nothing like the breakup of the Soviet Union could happen in America. In this respect at least, I expect open borders today would resemble the 19th-century American experience rather than that of the various colonial empires that left behind a white or Asian productive elite amidst a poorer native majority. Fourth, I am uncomfortable with the vaguely racist character of BK’s argument. But let me make it clear that I am not using “racist” as an epithet. The way our society (or I should, my society, given the international authorship and audience this blog seems to have: American society) uses the word “racism” is problematic. It tends to conflate (a) hatred of other races, and (b) belief that some races are somehow systematically superior to others in important ways, e.g., average IQ. While (a) is morally reprehensible, (b) is not morally reprehensible in general, though it might be so to some extent if such a belief is not honestly and rationally arrived at but springs from dislike of another race. Yet (b) is quite consistent with the most ardent concern and consideration for the cognitively challenged races. It is not really appropriate to excoriate (b); it is more appropriate to examine the evidence. Now, I am not racist in either sense (a) or sense (b). But it’s quite possible that my reasons for not being racist in sense (b) are perhaps inadequate. I have theological reasons of a sort, which I won’t go into here… perhaps they don’t make sense, but I find it hard to question them. Also, I defer to authority: the falsity of racism is believed by so many smart people that it’s hard to believe it’s wrong. It seems, not impossible, but a bit unlikely that an anti-racist consensus would have become so firmly established in very educated nations if it were factually false. But I am far from being an expert here. Of course, it bears repeating that BK is only using race as aproxyfor cognitive ability. I have a fifth reason too, but it depends on some of my own theoretical work that I’ll explain in the next post. Nathan Smith is an assistant professor of economics at Fresno Pacific University. He did his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University and has also worked for the World Bank. Smith proposed Don’t Restrict Immigration, Tax It, one of the more comprehensive keyhole solution proposals to address concerns surrounding open borders. See also: ## 66 thoughts on “Open borders and the economic frontier, part 1” 1. Vipul Naik says: Somewhat tangential: Regarding your penultimate para, I can offer one reason why many people would believe, or proclaim belief in, (b): the fear, right or wrong, that a lot of people still have (a) and will use (b) as an excuse. Some of the comments and discussions I quoted in my recent blog post goes into some examples that may be construed as hatred (or perhaps mere disdain/contempt) for other races. I’ll refrain from other examples so as not to divert the discussion here. My goal is not to quantitatively estimate (a), but rather to point out that a belief among smart people (right or wrong) that (a) (or weaker variants thereof, such as mere indifference rather than active hatred of other races) is common, or could become common, among the masses is good reason for smart people to deny (b). Well, not quite deny (b), but place a far higher burden of proof on anybody who is claiming (b) than anybody who is claiming the negative of (b). So, the fact that smart people have arrived at a consensus on these matters may be less conclusive than it appears at first sight. My reasoning is three levels deep: it’s what I think smart people think other people think, so there’s obviously a lot of room for error in my extrapolation. 2. Christopher Chang says: This is an interesting debate. But you continue to refuse to acknowledge something very important. Human interaction is too complex to be perfectly analyzed with verbal logic. BK may not be 100% correct (though I think he pretty much is), but I utterly fail to see how his argument is not sufficient to at least compel you to favor controlled experiments over recklessly opening the borders of the most important existing countries. Continuing to insist on the latter very, very strongly implies some level of malice toward existing citizens, rather than just a desire to improve foreigners’ welfare. 1. BK says: “Continuing to insist on the latter very, very strongly implies some level of malice toward existing citizens, rather than just a desire to improve foreigners’ welfare.” I strongly disagree. 1. Christopher Chang says: I should clarify that rational rules like “demanding standardized test on American history, culture, and government” and “STEM and in-demand occupational degrees” don’t fall under the “open borders” category at all in my book; they resemble e.g. Canada’s restrictive policy more than the US status quo, in fact. My “malice” claim applies only to those who continue to insist that the US has no moral right to enforce any rules at all and attempt to recruit irrational allies with emotional appeals, when they should obviously know better. 2. Nathan Smith says: I think one of us misunderstands the purpose of this site. As I understand it: We’re not decision-makers here. We’re floating ideas. Would open borders be a good idea? If it seems like it would be, we can talk about ways to get there, while minimizing risks. I’ve always advocated keyhole solutions that attempt to be “Pareto-superior” to the status quo, holding natives harmless through migration taxes and compensation. I’m certainly open to the idea that jumping even to that moderate policy overnight would be a bad idea. I favor other solutions, like passport-free charter cities, tying foreign aid to gradual increases in migration openness, opening borders between particular country pairs with a goal of gradually expanding the list of country pairs with open borders, whatever. If it takes twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years to get there, so be it. In the meantime, let’s try to establish whether or not it’s a desirable goal. There are certain cases where advocacy is a bit more urgent. US policy right now is deporting hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, separating family members, and leaving millions who were raised here in legal limbo that prevents them from getting their lives on track, comparable to Jim Crow. In cases like this, we can’t afford to be careful and experimental: we have to satisfy the demands of justice, now, addressing the long-term consequences as best we can but not letting our uncertainty about how to do so make us persist in perpetrating manifest injustice. But not all aspects of open borders are as urgent as that, and I’m open to all manner of gradualist halfway approaches to the ideal. 1. Christopher Chang says: There is nothing particularly slow about China’s recent rise, even though it was effected through a careful experimental approach. (Even now there is a complicated hukou system governing migration within the country. Some of that complexity is probably unnecessary. But that does not mean that tearing the whole thing down is necessarily a better idea than leaving it in place.) If India or Mexico could improve its citizens’ welfare that “slowly”, I think development economists would be overjoyed. The stance that you, and Caplan, currently take is not one of “[just] floating ideas”. I have no opposition to careful analysis of the conditions under which open borders do or do not make sense, and of all the commenters here, I think BK does the best job of this. (I’m not a professional in this subject; I’m only here to oppose obviously wrong arguments which, if left unchecked, are likely to endanger the kind of future I want to see.) No, there are two crucial mistakes you frequently make: (i) You repeatedly frame this as a righteous crusade, with some implied urgency. This can be very dangerous. We’re in agreement that fighting poverty is a righteous crusade; I wouldn’t be trying to communicate with you if I thought you were actually enemy combatants. But I can easily come up with mathematical models more accurate than any that Caplan has ever proposed where opening borders *decreases* human welfare, potentially massively so. While there is a human cost to deportation, the reality is that the eventual human costs of not enforcing the law can be far, far greater, so even your “urgent advocacy” example is fallacious. In fact, in the way it cheaply exploits normal human biases to try to both undermine accurate accounting and depict more sober thinkers as evil, it’s essentially belligerent. You need to stop doing this, and do a far better job of adhering to the spirit of the “principle of charity” rather than just making a show of it. Otherwise, it will become correct to actually treat you as an enemy combatant, regardless of what your intent is. (ii) The value of open borders is taken as axiomatic; the only questions you appear to be genuinely interested in is how to push for them more effectively. Instead of showing any willingness to oppose such a policy in specific times and places where it can be clearly be demonstrated to be welfare-decreasing under most human value systems, you actively ignore such cases and continue pushing for open borders along all other fronts you can. Also, in your “what is best for open borders” zeal, you actively ignore substitutes for open borders policies which achieve the stated goals more efficiently and with less disruption. If reducing poverty in another way would reduce the probability of open borders, you minimize discussion of that. Stop doing these things, and you’ll attract far less justified hatred, and far more allies in the war on poverty. 1. “But I can easily come up with mathematical models more accurate than any that Caplan has ever proposed where opening borders *decreases* human welfare, potentially massively so.” Please do so. So far, papers by Michael Clemens (http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=clemens+trillions+left+on+the+sidewalk&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=) and John Kennan (http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=kennan+open+borders&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5), and others, suggest large increases in global GDP as a result of open borders. That open borders would double world GDP seems to be the center of gravity among the estimates so far. Perhaps there are some formal models-cum-extrapolative projections that come down on the other side. If so, I would be interested in reading them, and seeing what their assumptions are. I don’t think “accurate” is the most apt word to describe what an alternative approach to estimate the gains/losses from open borders might aspire to. “Accurate” suggests something that matches the facts, but when talking about the impact of open borders you’re inevitably dealing with hypotheticals through modeling and extrapolation. What you should look for is a more *plausible* estimate, better-calibrated and/or with a more well-grounded choice of assumptions. “While there is a human cost to deportation, the reality is that the eventual human costs of not enforcing the law can be far, far greater, so even your “urgent advocacy” example is fallacious.” No evidence is provided for this strong claim, and off the top of my head, I am unable to guess what evidence Christopher might have in mind to support it. There seemse to be a suggestion that migration– peaceful migration, of course, otherwise this is off-topic and question-begging– could cause a massive fall in human welfare, I suppose through institutional channels. Are there any historical examples of such a thing happening? If so, we could consider whether the lessons from those cases are likely to cross-apply, If we discover that peaceful migration caused Catastrophe X, we could ask how we might implement open borders, or freer migration, so as to avoid Catastrophe X. But I am aware of no historical examples where not enforcing immigration laws caused particularly severe human costs. In the absence of evidence, perhaps Christopher has a theory of how these dire consequences might occur. That, too, would be interesting. But when strong claims are made without theory or evidence to support them, a suspicion of rhetoric arises. “Also, in your “what is best for open borders” zeal, you actively ignore substitutes for open borders policies which achieve the stated goals more efficiently and with less disruption.” What substitutes are those, I wonder? Trade? No. This has been studied. The world has moved a long way to free trade already, but huge gains from trade are sacrificed when it has to occur across thousands of miles of space. I’m all in favor of free trade, but many goods and services (haircuts is the standard example) are not internationally tradable. Charter cities are another possible substitute, or I suppose institutions could be exported directly (e.g., Iraq). But I do not believe the evidence supports the claim that “substitutes for open borders policies [could] achieve the stated goals more efficiently and with less disruption.” Christopher is welcome to provide counter-evidence. “You repeatedly frame this as a righteous crusade, with some implied urgency. This can be very dangerous. We’re in agreement that fighting poverty is a righteous crusade…” Yes, and I believe that open borders is the best way to achieve it. The reason I make the moral case for open borders is because I believe it is true. Dissenters are free to argue against it. The arguments I have heard from the other side, however, seem to me unsuccessful. “In fact, in the way it cheaply exploits normal human biases to try to both undermine accurate accounting and depict more sober thinkers as evil, it’s essentially belligerent.” I’m not sure what is meant by “accurate accounting” in this context. “Cheaply exploits normal human biases” seems to be another phrase for “appealing to conscience.” I think appeals to conscience are important. Conscience is an important faculty for perceiving right and wrong. It often needs to be awakened. “Otherwise, it will become correct to actually treat you as an enemy combatant, regardless of what your intent is.” Interpreted literally, this seems to suggest that Christopher Chang intends to take up arms against this site. I would advise against that. We live in a law-governed society in which individuals delegate force to elected authorities. The classification of people as enemy combatants is a task generally left to constitutionally appointed authorities. Such authorities seem unlikely to classify us as enemy combatants, as we are not engaged in combat, to begin with. For Christopher to take it on himself to treat us as enemy combatants would be morally questionable and would probably bring him into conflict with a very powerful agency, the state, which would be unlikely to work out favorably for him. But perhaps this is rhetoric again, not meant to be interpreted literally. 1. Christopher Chang says: “But I am aware of no historical examples where not enforcing immigration laws caused particularly severe human costs. In the absence of evidence, perhaps Christopher has a theory of how these dire consequences might occur. That, too, would be interesting. But when strong claims are made without theory or evidence to support them, a suspicion of rhetoric arises.” I have previously mentioned the example of the California public school system being largely wrecked by low-IQ immigration, and clarified that immigration got rid of California’s margin of error, right when it couldn’t afford it–countries with higher-IQ populations have tried policies almost as bad as Proposition 13, without overly bad consequences. You can still get a good education in California, but you generally have to live in an expensive area and/or rely on private schools (additional cost: hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is somewhat more than immigration lets you save on produce); the commons has been destroyed. Those who initially passed the 1965 Immigration Act insisted that America’s demographic mix would not be affected; this prediction proved to be ludicrously wrong. Given that it has already ran a major experiment and it failed in important ways, I’m pretty sure America has, if anything, *less* moral obligation than most other countries re: running the next risky experiment(s). The same may apply (perhaps more strongly) to some European countries which have run essentially failed experiments with e.g. Muslim immigration, though I know a lot less about the particulars of that, whereas I’ve spent more than a decade living in California. “But I do not believe the evidence supports the claim that ‘substitutes for open borders policies [could] achieve the stated goals more efficiently and with less disruption.’ Christopher is welcome to provide counter-evidence.” The counter-evidence is overwhelming, and I’ve mentioned it repeatedly: as recently as 1950, East Asian per capita GDP wasn’t much better than Africa’s or India’s. Somehow they caught up with lots of trade, foreign direct investment, etc., and WITHOUT heavy immigration. It was still disruptive, but losing a few million manufacturing jobs in the process of facilitating the escape of over a BILLION people from poverty is a much better deal than anything related to Mexican immigration. “‘Accurate’ suggests something that matches the facts, but when talking about the impact of open borders you’re inevitably dealing with hypotheticals through modeling and extrapolation. What you should look for is a more *plausible* estimate, better-calibrated and/or with a more well-grounded choice of assumptions.” Any model that incorporates the following three facts produces the result that open borders are likely to have strongly negative effects: (i) birth rates of subpopulations are affected by immigration. This is omnipresent in nature. Read up on the Verhulst equation and r/K selection, then fail to be surprised by the Hispanic baby boom. (Said baby boom appears to have stopped in the face of the latest economic downturn, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to advocate a policy which only makes sense if America stays in a depression for the rest of our lives.) (ii) existing environmental interventions are not powerful enough to close more than a small fraction of intergroup achievement gaps. BK has commented on this. (iii) most 21st century democracies are not willing to redesign the welfare state in a manner that accounts for facts (i) and (ii). In any context where one or more of these facts stops holding, I’m a lot more optimistic about the viability of open borders. For example, Singapore is sort of an exception to (iii): see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXHPmIcy-kI . And note that he used the facts not to justify total exclusion of low-IQ foreigners, but to aid the design of a guest worker policy which is among the most efficient in the world at helping them. “I’m not sure what is meant by ‘accurate accounting’ in this context. ‘Cheaply exploits normal human biases’ seems to be another phrase for ‘appealing to conscience.’ I think appeals to conscience are important. Conscience is an important faculty for perceiving right and wrong. It often needs to be awakened.” The problem is that you did not pair the deportation scene with any attempt to describe what is endangered by failure to enforce the law. You only showed the cost of current policy, not the benefit. This can be used to argue against any use of force at all. Which is all well and good, until someone doesn’t play by your rules and takes away everything you and your friends have. I applaud appeals to conscience, as long as they attempt to fairly depict both sides of the issue at hand. E.g. if one makes a serious effort to fairly depict both the costs and benefits of anti-marijuana laws, they are likely to have a substantially better effect on public discourse than if they just show an obvious cost. “For Christopher to take it on himself to treat us as enemy combatants would be morally questionable and would probably bring him into conflict with a very powerful agency, the state, which would be unlikely to work out favorably for him.” See James Bowery’s comments re: Bryan Caplan for the practical meaning of “enemy combatant” on a personal level. If somebody works too hard to destroy things that I really care about, I will do what I can to defend my interests, though I obviously have far less latitude to do so than a state. Okay, okay, in practice I probably just finish shifting my life to East Asia if the wrong things happen in the US. There are many people who do not have the natural backup plan I do, though. 1. @ Christopher: A few statistics can do most of the work here. 1. Hispanic share of the population of California in 2010: about 37%. (http://www.infoplease.com/spot/hhmcensus1.html and http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html). Note that this is a big change since “Non-Hispanic whites decreased from about 92% of the state’s population in 1960[8] to 43% in 2006.[9].” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_California) 2. California’s per capita GDP in 2010:$51,914 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP_per_capita_%28nominal%29)
3. US per capita GDP in 2010: $47,482 (same source) 4. Mexican GDP per capita in 2012:$15,782 (PPP) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP_per_capita_%28nominal%29)

Further analysis would be needed to do a full interpretation of this, but here’s what it looks like is happening. The demographics of California have been completely transformed by immigration. California’s population is over one-third Mexican. But its GDP has not been averaged down to the Mexican level. It doesn’t even seem to have lowered California’s per capita income significantly relative to the US as a whole (though California’s per capita income might have fallen a bit relative to national averages, see here: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ganong/motion.html — that is, by the way, one of the most brilliant graphical presentations of data I have ever seen, check it out!). That Hispanics’ incomes have been significantly boosted relative to what they would have made in Mexico. For present purposes, it would be beside the point to break down income by race and see if Hispanics come out at the bottom. If they do, that only means more for natives and non-Hispanic immigrants and would underline the point that this has not led to some sort of catastrophic, or even moderate, institutional degradation at natives’ expense. Upside: huge income gains for millions of Mexican immigrants. Downside: these statistics seem to suggest that there hasn’t been any to speak of.

California’s schools do seem to underperform a bit relative to the rest of the country. Thus, one ranking puts CA’s elementary schools at #45 (http://www.psk12.com/rating/USthreeRsphp/STATE_US_level_Elementary_CountyID_0.html) and its middle schools at #46 (http://www.psk12.com/rating/USthreeRsphp/STATE_US_level_Middle_CountyID_0.html); another one finds that California schools rank 30th in the nation (http://calcoastnews.com/2011/01/california-schools-rank-30th-in-nation/). Note that these facts alone could be consistent with immigration being PARETO-IMPROVING. Since schools in Mexico are worse than schools in the US (http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46643496.pdf), if every immigrant student performs better than he or she would have done in Mexico, and every native performs better than he or she would have done under closed borders (say, because low-skill immigration raises the skill premium and increases the incentive to study), immigration would confer educational benefits on every single person without exception, yet you would still see the average quality of schools in CA fall. I doubt this is what has actually happened, and I suspect it’s true that some natives have suffered somewhat by being stuck in schools that came to be dominated by children of immigrants from less educated cultures. Of course, the children of immigrants may benefit by studying alongside natives whose parents have more education. Immigration and schools is a tricky issue because there’s so much coercion involved. Public schools are a Soviet island in a capitalist sea. An argument that “if you don’t like immigrants, don’t deal with them, but don’t stop other people from doing so” doesn’t apply here. That said, your suggestion that…

“You can still get a good education in California, but you generally have to live in an expensive area and/or rely on private schools (additional cost: hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is somewhat more than immigration lets you save on produce)”

… is not proper “accounting,” because if you pay for a private school, you save the public purse a lot of money.

I think California’s problems more to do with Proposition 13, the nation’s most stringent environmental regulations, San Francisco and Hollywood liberals, and in general, plebiscitory direct democracy (The Economist has covered this well http://www.economist.com/node/18586520) than with immigration. In any case, the problems aren’t nearly big enough to make California a cautionary tale. Imagine if the whole rich world could admit one-third of its population as immigrants without any reduction of per capita GDP!

Moreover, California is an extremely bad case study if you want to argue that open borders is bad for the WHOLE WORLD because it kills the goose that lays the golden eggs and prevents the creation of positive externalities that move the economic frontier forward. California is home to both Hollywood, the biggest global hub of moviemaking, and Silicon Valley, the biggest global hub of the tech sector. These sectors generate HUGE positive spillovers that benefit the whole world now and for future generations. If you want to say that Mexican immigration didn’t play a huge role in this, fine. But it certainly didn’t prevent it.

1. Christopher Chang says:

There is some room for debate on how badly California was affected (obviously Silicon Valley, and my own family, benefited from loosening of restrictions on high-skill immigration in the 1965 Act), but there’s no question that the magnitude of the disruption was high, and that the folks who designed the Act claimed that could not possibly happen. I think that’s already enough to justify more caution in whatever next step is taken to advance open borders.

You’re right about private schools saving money for the public, but the resulting savings are barely noticeable compared to the additional public school spending driven by somewhat misguided efforts to “close the gap”. The latter cannot be entirely attributed to low-IQ immigration, but immigration has roughly doubled the size of the problem so far. Bottom line is that the costs of significantly increasing the fraction of low-IQ people in the US appear to me to be very high (and I do my best to avoid double-counting any component of this).

2. Vipul Naik says:

Christopher, sorry for the delayed response. Just to be clear, I speak only for myself here, not for Nathan, John, Chris, or any other open borders advocate, though I do sometimes guess about their views based on their prior published posts.

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for the thoughtful critique you offer and the insight this gives us into how people critical of our position may perceive us. That’s important to us. It’s not pleasant to hear, but we need to hear it. Thanks for doing this.

Obviously, one of the things motivating the creation of the site, and the bloggers on this site, is the belief open borders could lead to a dramatic reduction in world poverty. Even after world poverty has been eliminated, I think open borders would still be desirable. But I probably wouldn’t have put the effort into setting up the site and I wouldn’t have been able to attract talented people such as Nathan, John, and Chris, to blog for the site, if the connection between open borders and poverty reduction was not salient in our mind.

Open borders is not the only way to consider ending world poverty. On the immigration and charter cities page, we consider the parallel between immigration and charter cities. Nathan has blogged extensively about charter cities on this website, stretching to some extent the purpose of the site in so far as it is purportedly about open borders. The reason he’s done so is because, like you, he considers charter cities a possible first step toward unlocking the potential of global labor mobility.

I think all the bloggers on this site support free trade as well as free markets, and we don’t argue for immigration/open borders as a substitute for free trade. But, unlike you, most of us think that the gains from open borders are an order of magnitude greater than the gains from free trade. Obviously, you disagree, but given that we think this is the case, it isn’t surprising that we devote far more effort to advocating for open borders than for free trade.

The other important point, though, is that this is a site whose purpose is to specifically consider open borders. To the extent that we are interested in free trade, we may mention it a bit, but we aren’t a site/blog focused on free trade. Similarly, although we (especially Nathan) do the occasional post on charter cities, that again is not our focus. Some of us as individuals may be interested in these issues more than the focus of this site accommodates, and we may pursue other venues to make the case for these in more detail. The goal of the site, though, is to talk about open borders and the arguments for/against these, and we don’t want to stray too much from that.

But what if, presented with a lot of evidence, we change our mind? If one of us changes his/her mind about open borders, would he/she (okay, I’ll just say “he” since there are no female bloggers in our regular blogging group right now) be willing to “come out” about it? I personally would. Still, I don’t see myself becoming the next Steve Sailer any time soon. But I do acknowledge the possibility that the case for open borders might be considerably weakened by new evidence, and I might shift to a strong (2) >> (1) > (3) position or even (2) > (3) > (1) position from my current roughly (1) ~ (2) > (3) position (see the jargon in this blog post). The same may hold for other bloggers. Once the site is more mature, we would also be happy to publish moderate critics of open borders in guest posts, so as to enable a more robust and thorough conversation on the issue. But I think we are not quite there in maturity level yet.

Now, moving to the specific points you make.

Your “righteous crusade” point is important, and it is something that I fear that a lot of people reading this site feel. The reason why we try to make the moral case is not so much to make this a righteous crusade but rather to highlight the importance of the issue. Too often, I think, what happens is that people see some perceived problems with open borders, and then dismiss the whole idea as just too risky and too bad without trying to come up with keyhole solutions and other serious workarounds that could help capture the upside without the downside. Right from day one, we have considered keyhole solutions such as immigration tariffs and guest worker programs on this site. Nathan, in his book Principles of a Free Society outlines a detailed scheme which BK, our best critic, finds reasonable. Hopefully, we will put up full details of the scheme online, but for now, you can see a description in Nathan’s blog post.

Now, getting to the specific point about deportations. Might deportations be justified under some circumstances? Yes. If a liberal guest worker program is implemented, then people who continue to migrate illegally when legal channels were readily available to them need to pay the price. That price would ideally be a fine that would exceed the fees/tariffs/taxes for legal migration to a point that would create ample incentives to not migrate illegally (though the presence of legal channels would also reduce illegal migration considerably) and deportation if the fine cannot be paid within a certain grace period. That, at least, would be my solution. The solution in Nathan’s proposal is somewhat similar, but he can elaborate for himself.

That said, I think that, if you are proposing deportations in today’s world on the grounds of dire consequences if this were not done, the burden of proof would be on you to establish or specify those dire consequences. If there is considerable debate on the legitimacy of deportations, I think an “innocent until proven guilty” approach is more apt than a “deport first, consider its morality later” approach. The moral urgency that Nathan is talking about is not just a moral urgency in terms of stopping deportations, it is a moral urgency in forcing people who propose deportations to come up with compelling urgent reasons to deport now.

Regarding your point (ii), I think that we’re a very young site and blog. We definitely do not intend to shy away from any of the controversial aspects of open borders, or from the historical examples that cast open borders in a bad light. But we’re a very limited manpower operation, and we need to choose our priorities on what to blog about. We have about 40 blog posts in our drafts queue right now, and too little time to complete them. But yes, we do definitely intend to cover a lot of historical examples related to open borders. If there are specific historical examples you wish to see covered, please let us know in the comments (it’s best if you post them to the open thread). I can’t promise we’ll cover them soon, but we’ll get to them eventually.

1. Christopher Chang says:

As I mentioned in my latest reply to Nathan, and alluded to in the comment you replied to, there is a stark contrast between China’s rise, which did not require much immigration, with relatively disappointing Mexican performance and severe underestimation of the long-term disruptive effects of the 1965 Immigration Act by those who passed it.

This is enough to justify asking for at least a provisional “hands off America” stance from open borders proponents. Restrictionists will be more open to listening to you if you acknowledge that even current policy (i) is not what they bargained for, and (ii) has at least partially failed, in ways their worldview could predict, and which was not predicted by the legislators who passed the 1965 Act. Many of them feel betrayed, and this should be addressed if you want to win some of them over.

I don’t know how the American public as a whole would react, but the Sailersphere would certainly appreciate it if you designated Lee Kuan Yew’s guest worker policies (which have faced increasing opposition in Singapore, due to reasons that could be predicted from Robert Putnam’s diversity research; BK has provided links to the latter) as an *upper* limit on what you’d recommend for now for existing nations, without cutting back on your long-term goals.

1. Vipul Naik says:

Thanks, Christopher. I think I see part of your point. I think that in the short run, a guest worker program and/or an immigration tariff scheme are the only possibilities, and I personally think that if a large-scale guest worker program were enacted by some of the biggest countries including the US, then the marginal case for more open borders, while still strong, would be at par with the case for many other policy changes.

I’m also happy to sign on to the “upper limit for now” type of statement personally, but making those kinds of joint statements is not the focus on the site. My main concern is that without a clear accounting of what would constitute success, future changes would be just as controversial. For instance, upthread, you and Nathan have very different interpretations of the success or lack thereof of the 1965 Immigration Act.

I think a better thing would be that, at the time of enactment of the guest worker program, further enhancement of the guest worker program would be tied to the success of positive predictions of open borders advocates which restrictionists believe will not come true. This would force both sides to be honest about their predictions regarding the future. It would dissuade restrictionists from painting exaggerated apocalyptic scenarios since that would set the price of expanded immigration too low, and it would dissuade open borders advocates from being too rosy and hunky-dory about the future, since that would set the price of expanded immigration too high.

We’ll be blogging in the near future on themes like “what would the world be like under open borders?” and we’ll be happy to invite you and others to make quantitative and qualitative predictions that can be compared with ours, to see just how far we differ on this matter.

Nathan responded upthread to some things you said, but I will reply to your comparison of China and Mexico in a separate comment.

3. BK says:

“in many of the cases BK looks at, white or Northeast Asian minorities came as immigrants or even colonialists, and consequently are viewed as outsiders or even as past enemies. This factor would not cross-apply to migrants to an enlightened US or western Europe which opened its borders.”

Your claims here seem to imply testable predictions about political survey research in different countries. I can go digging, but I would appreciate it if you would make some predictions before seeing the data. Thoughts?

I think the maximum share of this racial tension factor in explaining the ethnicity-economic performance correlation is limited (IQ has big effects on political behavior and beliefs within groups, as well as on crime, corruption, and more). Also, in practice it seems that when there are incentives for rabble-rousing the exact details of grievances are not so important. For example, in Canada many African-Canadians are the descendants of refugees from slavery, and the great majority from voluntary immigrants. However, disparities in incomes, educational performance, and IQ exist in Canada as elsewhere, and these are explained as the product of racism. The disparities provide prima facie evidence for racism, a hypothesis which is relatively flattering, and this helps to power political behavior.

In Europe similar ideologies, as well as religion and egalitarianism, can create distance between richer majority groups and poorer minorities formed from recent immigrants and especially their children. Surveys show a surprising enthusiasm for overturning the local institutions in Europe.

“that the package of domesticable plants and animals in temperate zones is more favorable to development, and especially that the Eurasian landmass was not only well-endowed with them to begin with but, because civilization began early, had a lot of time to breed them into maximum usefulness. The tropics are at a disdavantage because the crops best perfected by man tend not to grow well there”

The crop explanation is very questionable for modern countries: Diamond offered it as an explanation of European head start on the Industrial Revolution. Disease burden is more plausible (although countries with smart populations tend to fix that), and the physiological effects of heat look especially plausible, especially prior to air-conditioning.

This actually points to the evolutionary priors, and the findings of modern population genetics.

Geographical differences, differences in the history of agriculture, and differences in patterns of reproduction and mortality caused thereby are just why we would expect some group differences: any systematic difference in environment translates into different selective pressures and thus different genotypes. You see this malaria resistance, salt tolerance, height, lactose tolerance, the ability to withstand high altitudes, frequency of twins, fast-twitch vs slow-twitch muscle cells, brain size, duration of pregnancies, weight at birth, maturation speed, and many other features. There are measured group differences in the number of loss-of-function mutations between ethnic groups. People of Ashkenazim descent have greatly increased rates of several diseases that greatly increase IQ, i.e. make one ten times as likely to get a graduate degree than non-patients, or have IQ 8 points higher than healthy neighbors.

http://harpending.humanevo.utah.edu/Documents/ashkiq.webpub.pdf

We already know there are differences in alleles affecting intelligence by continental ancestry, as theory would predict (it would be shocking if different populations were exactly balanced on genetic potential for IQ, when they differ in so many other measurable genetic respects with serious impacts on life course). The questions concern how big they are, and what the aggregate net effects are.

” given that the “self-interested voter hypothesis” seems to be false,”

Well, first of all, bad policy (just less intelligent, less informed, less reasonable citizens) exists separately from sectional tensions.

However, the “group-interested voter hypothesis” has a lot of support, i.e. people try to vote in a way that affirms loyalty to their perceived community, and that community’s boundaries often emphasize some citizens over others. Whites especially support Social Security and Medicare but are especially unsupportive of food stamps or welfare. For African-Americans, this pattern is reversed. And in both groups the tendency is strongest among those who are scored as more ethnocentric on a separate test of ethnocentrism. Attitudes about taxes, education, public sector employment, affirmative action (obviously) and many other issues roughly track which group would benefit more.

““IQ varies systematically across racial/national groups” + “low-IQ voters support bad policies””

Some other causal mechanisms:

-in dictatorships popular opinion still matters a lot: look at all the dictatorships providing incredibly inefficient but popular fuel subsidies; dictators want to be popular to reduce the chance of rebellion; in a low-IQ country the army has to be staffed with lower-IQ troops who have to be placated

-the higher the IQ of the population, the greater the gains from good pro-growth policies (which can be shared out among the ruling elite and its supporters) that increase labor productivity; with a lower-IQ population the GDP per capita gain from traditional good policy is smaller relative to sources of income such as natural resources and foreign aid; http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-help-haiti.html

-higher-IQ folk cooperate more in the Prisoner’s Dilemma (see Garrett Jones’ work and the references section therein to find the rest of the literature), have longer time horizons, and differ in other ways that tend to smooth trusting relations in the business world; reorganizing business processes to deal with reduced trust can be quite costly, and may be very unpopular if it ends up looking like clannish market-dominant minorities shutting out the majority from an old boys network

-rising up through the military or other means to power depends on many things other than intelligence, such as charisma and prestige among the groups from which military power is drawn; so in a country with lower average IQ those who rise to the top of the system will tend to have lower IQ (even in the U.S. many Presidents have IQ only in the 120s range, although some such as Obama, Clinton, and Nixon do better); the same will apply to the lower echelons; the pattern of leaders with IQ moderately higher than their subordinates is also seen in the corporate world, and is predicted on theoretical grounds whenever IQ helps to advance but is not all there is to advancement

-one way of thinking about this is that in a heterogenous population with a higher-intelligence minority, there will be a lot more majority members with strong charisma (and other traits helpful for gaining power) than there are charismatic members of the minority, and intelligence differences aren’t enough to reliably overcome that difference exceptionally charismatic

-lower-level members of government will be less intelligent for similar reasons: the group able to seize power will be qualified more on charisma relative to intelligence than would be the case in a homogenous society, and so less able to use that power helpfully

“(b) belief that some races are somehow systematically superior to others in important ways, e.g., average IQ.”

I’d like to add that differences in predisposition to IQ are not immutable, even if they are caused by genetic factors. There are geniuses in every ethnic group. For example, if for one generation every family used donor sperm from donors with IQ 60 points above the group mean, and heritability of IQ was 0.5, then this would increase IQ in the next generation by 15 points, the size of the black-white IQ gap in the US, or the IQ gap between Singapore and Mexico. This would have costs in the hundreds of dollars per child, a great investment for even poor countries.

If donor eggs and IVF were used, which would increase the cost to tens of thousands of dollars per child (but would easily pay for itself in increased tax revenues if the government subsidized it) the boost would be doubled. Incremental improvements of existing biotechnology could go far beyond that in a few decades.

The main barriers to doing these things are the social taboos against them, and the desire of parents to have genetically related children.

Some IQ differences are caused by inbreeding (this has been studied pretty extensively, and tracks rates of recessive genetic disease), which can be fixed simply by mating with unrelated partners.

“Also, I defer to authority: the falsity of racism is believed by so many smart people that it’s hard to believe it’s wrong.”

Anonymous surveys of scientists, journalists, and the public show that subject expert opinion favors a genetic component to group differences in IQ, but that this is not reported outside the discipline, and the public statements of scientists are very different from their private beliefs, probably due to fear of social consequences (retaliation against them personally, or fear of lending support to political forces they oppose):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_IQ_Controversy,_the_Media_and_Public_Policy_(book)#Synopsis

Even facts that are overwhelmingly pinned down by evidence, such as the mere existence of sustained differences in intelligence, setting aside their cause, are routinely denied or glossed over in the media and unrelated disciplines (except in brief mention when giving context for purported counterevidence).

Philosophers of science and even some influential IQ researchers have argued that it is wrong to publish true results suggesting group differences in IQ.

The combination of these facts suggests the suppression of an unpopular hypothesis that forces itself upon subject matter experts despite strong pressures and biases against it, rather than a weak outsider position easily refuted by academia and rejected by scientific consensus.

1. Vipul Naik says:

BK, I largely agree with your reply to (b) on race and IQ. Speaking only for myself, of course, not for the site. btw, one paradoxical effect of self-censorship by academics on the matter may be that the only people who speak about the issue are the academics who are most convinced and hold relatively extreme views, such as Richard Lynn.While I think Lynn is directionally correct, I am skeptical of his numbers, especially after reading Wicherts’ papers, thanks to you.

Just a couple of things I would add.

The survey you reference deals with the US WB IQ gap. But it did not ask academics the relative weightings of genes and environment as an explanation, only whether they thought a mixed explanation was likely or whether they favored pure genes/pure environment xplanations. Pure hereditarians were an even smaller minority than pure environmentalists. This is not in contradiction with anything you said, but just for the benefit of people reading the thread.

Second, implicit in this discussion is some concept of “genetic IQ” — what a person’s IQ might be in a decent middle class US environment. For any individual this would be a distribution whose variance would reflect the nonshared environmental factors idiosyncratic to that person. The mean would be genetically determined, in so far as you subscribe to the idea that shared environment is irrelevant. I am not sure this construct makes sense, but it seems to be necessary to do something of the sort before talking of genetic differences in group IQs. The next question would be whether “decent middle class US environment” can be varied upon. Also, how do past and other-country environments affect measured IQ relative to genetic IQ? The Flynn effect offers some clues, but I have found few overall satisfactory attempts at the problem so far. I don’t think we can ascertain the quantitative exent of genetic contributions to group differences when the large environment puzzles at the individual level seem to be far from satisfactorily resolved.

1. BK says:

“btw, one paradoxical effect of self-censorship by academics on the matter may be that the only people who speak about the issue are the academics who are most convinced and hold relatively extreme views, such as Richard Lynn.While I think Lynn is directionally correct, I am skeptical of his numbers, especially after reading Wicherts’ papers, thanks to you.”

I agree that people like Lynn and Rushton have axes to grind, and are somewhat socially tone-deaf (otherwise they would have done their research in greener pastures), and tend to systematically err in favor of bigger group differences.

However, there is another selection effect: the smartest people who have looked at these questions tend to also preserve their anonymity or keep their conclusions implicit unless they are utterly beyond any reasonable doubt. And they have many lines of evidence and analyses that people like Lynn and Rushton missed due to lack of statistical acumen and knowledge of genetics. If one looks at the file drawer of cancelled and blocked studies, or findings that are presently found only on blogs or footnotes by people working in other fields (physicists, statisticians, geneticists), the well-established history of publication bias, and survey data showing overwhelming ideological skew against the hypothesis among psychologists (overcome among the psychometricians by the data) I would say the sensible view is between that median expert opinion and hereditarian maximalism, but significantly closer to the latter than to environmental maximalism.

“I don’t think we can ascertain the quantitative extent of genetic contributions to group differences when the large environment puzzles at the individual level seem to be far from satisfactorily resolved.”

The basic shape of intergroup differences is pretty consistent across societies, despite the Flynn Effect and changes in nutrition (head size increased along with height, but this boosted all groups). The best minds who have worked on the question, like Economics Nobel Laureate James Heckman, think that there aren’t any good environmental interventions to close intergroup gaps, and there are decades of failure to get more than very small improvements in varied rich societies, from the US to France to Sweden to Singapore.

So there seems little reason to expect an environmental innovation that can slash these disparities soon, and enough stability to make predictions.

1. Vipul Naik says:

Hi BK,

I agree with you. My point was more that I don’t think we have any way of quantifying the “genetic contribution” to racial IQ differences yet. What I think might be unambiguously established soon is that differences in certain gene frequencies between races are partly responsible for observed gaps. But I don’t think the theory is strong enough to quantify the extent of these.

I don’t see any special reason to focus on closing group differences. Rather, if there are interventions that help improve cognitive functioning, then those interventions are worth considering (modulo cost-effectiveness considerations, of course). Whether or not such interventions close group gaps is of secondary interest. If an intervention is a Pareto improvement that increases group gaps, I think it would be a good thing.

I also agree with you that few existing interventions fit the bill. But large environment effects that seem to drive the Flynn effect seem to exist. Flynn and Dickens offer a good reconciliation of the difficulty of interventions combined with the potency of large environment effects, but I would like to see more evidence before believing them.

By the way, a recent book by Dennis Garlick laid out an intriguing overall theory of intelligence. Again, I don’t know if the novel parts of his theory withstand further empirical scrutiny.

1. BK says:

“Rather, if there are interventions that help improve cognitive functioning, then those interventions are worth considering (modulo cost-effectiveness considerations, of course).”

I agree that naturally all cost-effective interventions should be used.

“Whether or not such interventions close group gaps is of secondary interest.”

Remember we are talking about effects on national economic activity associated with average and smart fraction intelligence. If gaps are not closed, average intelligence will still be affected by differential immigration.

“By the way, a recent book by Dennis Garlick laid out an intriguing overall theory of intelligence. Again, I don’t know if the novel parts of his theory withstand further empirical scrutiny.”

Which parts did you have in mind? I’m pretty familiar with the academic literature, but haven’t read his book.

1. Vipul Naik says:

Hi BK,

Even if gaps within a country are closed, the effects of differential immigration would continue unless those gaps are closed worldwide. Since a lot of policy is about closing “achievement gaps” within a country, its significance for immigration is limited, though it might still be relevant to the children of potential immigrants.

I’m actually having a hard time thinking of a specific intervention whose only effect would be to close a gap, unless it is selectively applied by design.

btw, regarding a point you made upthread about using donor sperm, I guess we could count that as an intervention. But complete adoption of it seems dangerous to me mainly because it would significantly reduce the diversity of the gene pool in a number of other traits where diversity may be important. Four standard deviations above the group mean is a very very small chunk of the group. Assuming a normal distribution, we are talking of only 1/30,000 of the population. Even for the world population, 1/30,000 of that is only 250,000 individuals. The reduction of genetic diversity could have significant consequences in other ways, though I don’t know exactly how this would be quantified.

Still, it seems to make a lot of sense at the margin.

1. BK says:

“btw, regarding a point you made upthread about using donor sperm, I guess we could count that as an intervention. But complete adoption of it seems dangerous to me mainly because it would significantly reduce the diversity of the gene pool in a number of other traits where diversity may be important.”

But the first order effects look like they would more than double world GDP! And there are keyhole solutions, and adoption wouldn’t be an instantaneous switch-over… 🙂

In all seriousness, the diversity issue looks small. Many populations which do fine had smaller founding groups contributing most of their gene pool, including all of modern humanity. You can do calculations of allele frequencies to see which alleles might be lost from the population (although digital records and tissue samples preserve these just fine), and it’s not so bad. The population size is also big enough that inbreeding homozygosity wouldn’t be significant (harmful recessives are easily dealt with today by carrier testing anyway). And in the unlikely event that there were no holdouts whatsoever (Amish, Hutterites, accidental pregnancies), one can select for and subsidize diversity reserves (in addition to tissue banks and digital records).

2. Chris Hendrix says:

Hey BK, it’s kind of late for me so I won’t respond to all the points, but I’d like to offer a thought on this one:

“The crop explanation is very questionable for modern countries: Diamond offered it as an explanation of European head start on the Industrial Revolution.”

The crop explanation might still have some potential explanatory power. Consider that advances in agriculture are typically required first in order to free up enough labor for factory/services work in a developing country. Then consider that most of the world’s food crops were initially developed in more temperate climates. Many of those do not grow well in more tropical areas. This then limits agricultural opportunities in those areas, most seriously with the problem of an economical diversification. Many areas tend to become focused on a cash crop that grows well in the tropics and alternatives that might also raise capital and money while decreasing risk of volatile price fluctuations disrupting the economy. Lack of ability to grow temperate climate crops efficiently could thus lead to problems in developing.

This is not to discount the importance of institutions. This kind of problem would only be exacerbated by bad institutions (especially if they encourage this process even further as often happens). But the tropical climates of near-equatorial/equatorial countries could be a contributing factor even today. GMOs might help the problem significantly, but that’s another discussion.

This can also be a case of Singapore being an exception that proves the rule. As a city mostly dependent on foreign trade, it would not be as impacted by the volatility of a local agricultural market. Combine that with an excellent set of institutions and there was little stopping Singapore from defying a tropical climate to become one of the world’s richest cities.

Now note I am not saying that diversification might work out better for African countries under current conditions. Diversifying into crops that could just be bought cheaper from overseas is of course foolish. But what I am saying is that climate might be contributing to equatorial countries having fewer options in potential agriculture products they can produce. Sticking with just cocoa or coffee might be the best strategy for a developing equatorial nation, but that doesn’t mean it’s as effective of having the option of growing any of the temperate climate crops that countries further from the equator have.

1. Nathan Smith says:

I also suspect the crops explanation can’t be so easily dismissed. Technology could even reinforce the geographical advantage associated with the temperate-zone crop package: wheat is easier to harvest by tractor than cassava is. When you consider how much of Africa’s population lives by subsistence agriculture, the fact that they don’t have most of the crops with which hundreds of generations of selective breeding has endowed the temperate zone might make a difference. (Though Africans do grow a lot of maize.)

2. BK says:

I agree there’s some effect in this direction from reduced crop options, but it looks small to me in a world where laborers sewing clothes or making toys in a simple factory for export can afford multiple subsistence wages worth of foreign grain.

3. Christopher Chang says:

It’s worth mentioning in passing that the level of opposition I’ve seen in Hong Kong to mainland Chinese immigration–at least as strong as anti-Mexican sentiment in the US, from my observation so far–puts a pretty low upper bound on the importance of pure racism.

4. BK says:

” However, in the long run, what matters most is how fast the economic frontier moves forward. If progress at the frontier is slowed, all future generations will suffer, and by their numbers, they easily outweigh the welfare of the current inhabitants of the earth in any utilitarian calculus. Because ideas are non-rival, progress at the economic frontier probably depends on global GDP, with a larger global GDP meaning a larger market for all goods. Therefore, we should protect future generations by maintaining the kind of global segregation that facilitates the maintenance of wealth-fostering institutions.”

Growth rates are important, but eventually growth must slow as we reach technological and physical limits. Other permanent changes can be even more important from the long-run perspective. For instance, if human civilization destroys itself through future technologies like ultra-powerful bioweapons or robotics, there will be no more future generations at all. That is a reason to want to have good institutions in charge of cutting-edge technological capability, and to want to quickly reach a point where humanity is immune to such catastrophe, e.g. via space colonization.

5. BK says:

“He seems to favor expanded immigration from high-IQ countries like China and Russia.”

Rather, I accept that those national origins could be OK proxies. Others that I think would work well while allowing billions to immigrate and become citizens include:

-an intelligence test, like the one used by the U.S. army, with a cutoff of IQ 110
-STEM and in-demand occupational degrees, backed by some type of knowledge test to counter fraud and diploma mills
-Auctioned migration permits or immigration taxes, such as you suggest: the foresight and earning power to enable payment would track IQ and other heritable pro-growth traits
-Country-based quotas which expand or shrink depending on the taxes paid by past immigrants from that country
-a demanding standardized test on American history, culture and government, like the current citizenship test, but designed to actually be challenging; this could serve the function of the military IQ test (performance on any academic exam is highly correlated with IQ) while appearing more obviously related to immigration (and helping to make “consent by entry” a more significant phenomenon)

And separately Singapore style guest worker programs (i.e. ones in which departure and non-settlement are enforced, unlike the German one) seem capable of achieving the poverty-relief functions of immigration for the rest of the global population without endangering the goose. However, I worry that given current political conditions in the US and EU these programs would slip into ‘citizenship for all’ schemes on egalitarian and immigrants’ rights grounds, as well as partisan political advantage.

6. Nathan Smith says:

Thanks BK, very thought-provoking as usual.

“Your claims here seem to imply testable predictions about political survey research in different countries. I can go digging, but I would appreciate it if you would make some predictions before seeing the data. Thoughts?”

The most obvious thing would be to explore inter-racial attitudes in societies first settled by the dominant group vs. societies first settled by poorer-majority groups. Blacks in Canada vs. blacks in South Africa might be a good example. However, whether you’re *in the minority* vs. *in the majority* might make a difference. It might make a difference in either direction: you might resent whites more if you’re surrounded by them than if there are just a few of them here and there (albeit disproportionately wealthy), or you might assimilate to majority white opinion when you’re in a minority, becoming less resentful, but to majority black opinion when you’re in a majority. Hmm. However, another part of your argument provided me a jumping-off point for an approach in which I’d have more confidence.

“However, the “group-interested voter hypothesis” has a lot of support, i.e. people try to vote in a way that affirms loyalty to their perceived community, and that community’s boundaries often emphasize some citizens over others. Whites especially support Social Security and Medicare but are especially unsupportive of food stamps or welfare. For African-Americans, this pattern is reversed. And in both groups the tendency is strongest among those who are scored as more ethnocentric on a separate test of ethnocentrism. Attitudes about taxes, education, public sector employment, affirmative action (obviously) and many other issues roughly track which group would benefit more.”

Yes, very interesting. Here I’d hazard a prediction: that in a future open-borders America, there would be much less identifiable patterns of group-interested voting than there currently are in the many societies in the world where minorities are a legacy of colonialism. The opinion profile of immigrant communities would look similar to the opinion profile of natives and would converge over time. You might see some groups voting 75% Democrat or 75% Republican, but there wouldn’t be issues where nearly 100% of an immigrant minority took a particular position, unless, say, 80%+ of similar natives (e.g., natives of the same income class or living in the same locale) were taking the same position. There wouldn’t be huge differences in awareness between immigrant communities and natives, except of course on issues directly related to the source country. Thus, you might see Russian-Americans far more aware of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and far less supportive of the Georgian alliance, but on domestic issues they wouldn’t be distinctive. New immigrants would have lower awareness of many domestic issues, and might be biased in favor of policies resembling their home countries, but in one or two generations, levels of issue awareness would converge towards the general population.

By contrast, I suspect that where a poorer majority represents, so to speak, the “historic base population” of an area, you would find certain attitudes nearly unanimously held among that group, which might be widely or almost unanimously rejected by the “colonial” element. You’d see solidarity of opinion on both sides. I once traveled to a province of Russia called Tuva, a mountain steppe area originally inhabited by a nomadic people related to the Mongols, then settled by the Russians. “They’re sure we stole everything from them,” a Russian told me, “it’s not clear what.” The Russians I met seemed to be all of the same opinion on them: it’s a “quiet war,” I was told, and the Russians were leaving because the Tuvans had gained control of the government. Whether you’d see a similar solidarity on the Tuvan side I don’t know– they all spoke Russian but didn’t seem as friendly, I never got to know any of them– but if so, that would be an example of what I’m talking about. Again, in Azerbaijan, opinion is UNANIMOUSLY hostile to Armenia. That’s a somewhat different case, because Azerbaijan and Armenia are separate states, but it’s the type of solidarity I’d worry about. Again, I did some survey work for the UN in southern Kyrgyzstan, and the split there between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz is extremely salient there, with opinion seeming to be totally polarized. It would be tricky to research this, because you’d have to identify the loyalty points, the “I have to believe this because of an X” points, and ask about them. Survey questions that are not a keyhole fit to evoke these strongly-held biases and prejudices might yield answers that are more reflective and consequently somewhat random. I’m not so concerned if 75% of one group thinks X and 25% of another group. Then there are members of “your” group to serve as a bridge to the “other” side, and of their group to serve as a bridge to your side. What I would worry about is cases where 95% of one group thinks X and the other 5% doesn’t dare to dissent openly, while 90% of the other group deplores X, that I’d foresee real trouble. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were such near-unanimity among “Rhodesian” blacks in opposing white rule. By the way, American blacks, voting 90%+ Democrat and having distinctive views on many issues (I think) are a good example of this solidarity. Of course, they were not voluntary immigrants: that’s the point. They never made the act of consent that initiated the process of assimilation. A quite different kind of experience laid the groundwork for their identity as a people and their ongoing solidarity. Are there similarities between public opinion among American blacks and among South African blacks?

I’ve evaded empirical accountability here by predicting the state of public opinion in “a future open-borders America,” rather than in any existing polity. The trouble is that no polity in the world today has the kind of open borders policy I advocate. But studying immigrants’ attitudes under the present immigration system isn’t necessarily very instructive on the question at hand, because they tend to be either highly educated, with less grounds for resentment, or else undocumented and migrant workers who have a special grievance because they or their relatives may lack status. Lack of status discourages assimilation and presumably breeds resentment and inculcates a sense of the system’s unfairness, inegalitarianism, and needless hostility. Immigrants who entered under an open borders scheme would have reason to hold totally different attitudes towards the American regime and the dominant groups in American society. A better comparison would be to look at the state of opinion in the 19th-century age of open borders. Did those immigrants exhibit less group-interested voting, more acceptance of the legitimacy of the constitutional order, more respect for established systems of property rights, more tendency to assimilate over time to mainstream opinion, less resentment, than the poorer majorities described in Amy Chua’s *World on Fire* (vis-a-vis market-dominant minorities)?

I guess that’s still not a very well-formulated question though.

1. Vipul Naik says:

I don’t buy that the involuntary minority history of (many but not all) US blacks should be reason enough for them to have distinctive voting patterns or political views. But I am curious: are the differences between blacks and the US mean mostly just about party affiliation? From what I remember, social issues-wise blacks tend to lean conservative. They also seem to favor libertarian/free-market/anti-statist policies in areas like school vouchers and drug legalization relative to the median US voter. I suspect the overwhelming Democrat affiliation is driven by reasons other than policy packages.

1. BK says:

“But I am curious: are the differences between blacks and the US mean mostly just about party affiliation”

They are quite different from other Democrats. You can look directly at the data in the General Social Survey: http://www3.norc.org/gss+website/

“From what I remember, social issues-wise blacks tend to lean conservative”
Right, but they rank them as low priority. This is a similar pattern for Hispanics and low-IQ whites. Social conservatism falls as IQ rises, but economic and racial issues tend to take precedence: social issues only loom large for people who feel relatively comfortable. Note the relative lack of social issue messaging in the recent Presidential campaign.

“They also seem to favor libertarian/free-market/anti-statist policies in areas like school vouchers and drug legalization relative to the median US voter.”

Right, these are racially charged issues: a huge portion of the African-American population is imprisoned for drug war related reasons (the typical African-American voter has far more than the median number of friends and family in prison), and African-Americans are most discontented with their local schools (although there isn’t much evidence that vouchers help much on this front), both because of bad educational outcomes, and because the financing of schools with local property taxes means that statewide or federal vouchers would redistribute school funding towards African-Americans.

2. BK says:

” By the way, American blacks, voting 90%+ Democrat and having distinctive views on many issues (I think) are a good example of this solidarity.”

I decided to take this as a testable prediction, and so I am going to check African voting patterns in Canada and the UK, which both have African-descended populations that arrived via voluntary immigration. Searching…

The first thing I found was this data from the 1997 British election:

http://www.earlhamsociologypages.co.uk/vbint.htm

The white vote was 32% Conservative (C), 43% Labor (L), 18% Lib Dem (LD), 7% Other (O).

For Asians 22 C, 66 L, 9 LD, 3 O.

For Blacks 12 C, 82 L, 5 LD, 1 O.

For Canada, the first thing I found was this article, but apparently the election polls aggregate all “visible minorities” together, electoral experts and such claim that African Canadians vote much more to the left than the well-off Asian groups (and data on education levels and income would predict this) but there aren’t very clear figures:

“The New Democratic Party, which won 30.6 per cent of the popular vote, scored highest among recent immigrants, taking 41 per cent of the vote of newcomers who have been in Canada less than a decade.

But the Conservatives, who seized 39.6 per cent of the overall vote, won 43 per cent of immigrants who have been in the country longer than a decade.”

“the country’s visible minority population, which includes Asians, Hispanics and blacks born inside Canada.

The NDP did well among visible minorities, attracting 38 per cent of the ballots of those who are not white.

The Conservatives obtained only 31 per cent of the visible minority vote. The Liberals appealed to 23 per cent.”

About an eighth of “visible minorities” in Canada are African-Canadians. Most are high-performing migrants from China and South Asia. The Canadian conservatives are not nearly so religiously defined as the U.S. Republicans, and so can and do well among these high-performing groups, as well as among Jews (unlike the US):

“Fifty-two per cent of Canada’s Jews voted Conservative, with 24 per cent going Liberal and 16 per cent NDP.

Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of the country’s Muslims cast a ballot for the Conservatives, which could reflect the party’s position on conflicts involving Israel and Afghanistan.

The Liberals, meanwhile, scored an astonishing 46 per cent of the country’s Muslim vote, while the NDP took 38 per cent.”

1. BK says:

Looking at records for African-Canadian Members of Parliament, they are overwhelmingly members of the parties of the left. Part of this probably reflects urban location, but it also aligns with other evidence of skew. Googling Black Canadian magazines and websites suggests that the overwhelming majority voted against the Conservative government.

2. BK says:

My sense is that these data support the view that “voluntary minority” status isn’t that big a deal, and domestic issues and disparities matter more.

3. Nathan Smith says:

Oh, these numbers definitely confirm my “voluntary minority” hypothesis, as I see it– as far as they go. As I say, American blacks exhibit a high degree of political solidarity. Public opinion among them has a quite separate dynamic. Hispanics lean left but not overwhelmingly: there are plenty of “bridges,” Hispanic Republicans to communicate and represent the other side. Asians seem split down the middle. Meanwhile, a quote from the South Africa article you cited…

“I would have wanted to vote for the black-administered government, but I don’t eat patriotism,” says Miyetani Kuzumuka, a voter in the Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg. “The ruling party has taken us for granted too long, yet no service delivery is worthy of talking about in our poverty-stricken townships.”

… shows exactly the kind of ethnic solidarity that would make the Amy Chua mechanism for institutional degradation operate. Of course, if the voluntary-minority mechanism, with immigrants assimilating to native patterns of public opinion rather than exhibiting solidarity among themselves, is working fine NOW, that doesn’t mean it would work under open borders.

Benedict Anderson described nations as “imagined communities.” The thing about American blacks is that they have their own imagined community within the nation, in some respects even in opposition, not to the nation perhaps, but to the mainstream. They have their own heroes. John F. Kennedy is not an Irish-American hero, nor Frank Sinatra an Italian-American hero, nor Dwight Eisenhower a German-American hero. They’re just American heroes, and if Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans or German-Americans take pride in them at all, it’s because their group contributed such a prominent personality to the nation, not because he particularly served the interests of the ethnic community. By contrast, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X are BLACK American heroes. They may be American heroes too, but blackness is central to their identity and their achievement, and their achievement is primarily to do something for blacks rather than to do something for the nation, or if they did something for the nation it’s that they gave it the moral benefit of treating blacks better. (Barack Obama is an interesting case because he’s certainly a black hero but he is not of the black-American stock that has its historic origins in slavery.)

I don’t blame American blacks for this, of course. If they were incompletely integrated into American society for most of US history, that was not their fault, and if they decline to fully assimilate now, that’s fine too. But if you had a lot of groups like that in the country, it could become a problem. This would be more than just a political group slanting a little bit to the right or to the left. Even the political solidarity of American blacks isn’t really the crucial proof. It’s subtler than that. Now, my hypothesis is that the dynamics of opinion among voluntary immigrant minorities are quite different from groups among whom this step of consent was never taken. Immigrants make a choice to embrace their new home country, usually, and they tend to start assimilating. There are a lot of different strands in native opinion and thought and culture which they might assimilate to, so location will matter, and people from a certain country or culture may have a bias towards embracing this or that aspect of native culture and opinion, but there will be no sharp break between natives and immigrants. By contrast, involuntary minorities will tend to adopt attitudes of uncritical solidarity with one another at the expense of the dominant group, The opinion-influencing network will exhibit little overlap with the mainstream. My hypothesis would predict similar opinion dynamics and normative frameworks (a) among voluntary immigrant minorities in different countries, and (b) among involuntary minorities or economically subordinate groups in different countries. Testing it wouldn’t be easy, and I’m not sure I’d have the skills. Interesting to think about, anyway.

1. BK says:

“Oh, these numbers definitely confirm my “voluntary minority” hypothesis, as I see it– as far as they go. As I say, American blacks exhibit a high degree of political solidarity. Public opinion among them has a quite separate dynamic. Hispanics lean left but not overwhelmingly: there are plenty of “bridges,” ”

This response ignores the comparison at issue! You said that the isolation of African-Americans reflected “involuntary minority status.” So I said, let’s compare African-Americans (involuntary minority) against African-Canadians and African-British people, who are voluntary minorities with like continental ancestry. Such comparisons can help tease out the effect of voluntariness. I was only able to find the answer for the United Kingdom, but there people of African descent were only slightly less polarized than in the United States.

But your response didn’t address this at all, pivoting to discussion of how Hispanics are less polarized than African-Americans in the United States. Well, Latin America is less polarized than South Africa, and in crime, IQ and many other respects Hispanic Americans are intermediate between African-Americans and Caucasian or Asian Americans. Latin American countries have income intermediate between mostly European and mostly African countries.

There are fewer objective reasons for Hispanic polarization in the United States than African-American polarization. More relevant for your thesis would be to compare voluntary and involuntary Hispanic minorities

7. Nathan Smith says:

“Growth rates are important, but eventually growth must slow as we reach technological and physical limits. Other permanent changes can be even more important from the long-run perspective. For instance, if human civilization destroys itself through future technologies like ultra-powerful bioweapons or robotics, there will be no more future generations at all. That is a reason to want to have good institutions in charge of cutting-edge technological capability, and to want to quickly reach a point where humanity is immune to such catastrophe, e.g. via space colonization.”

Too speculative! I could counter that it’s urgent to open the borders so that a larger share of the world’s population will live under democratic rule, thus spreading the democratic peace to a larger share of the world’s population. Open borders would also mitigate anti-Americanism. It’s the best way to avoid nuclear war! That would also be too speculative.

8. Nathan Smith says:

“-higher-IQ folk cooperate more in the Prisoner’s Dilemma (see Garrett Jones’ work and the references section therein to find the rest of the literature), have longer time horizons, and differ in other ways that tend to smooth trusting relations in the business world; reorganizing business processes to deal with reduced trust can be quite costly, and may be very unpopular if it ends up looking like clannish market-dominant minorities shutting out the majority from an old boys network”

This one is interesting because it’s a NON-INSTITUTIONAL channel by which IQ could influence GDP. But it seems to me that VIRTUE is the main determinant of whether you cooperate in Prisoner’s Dilemma games. And virtue is also, I think, a factor in IQ: it takes courage to try to tackle a difficult problem, justice to look for balance and avoid bias, temperance to control distracting impulses and focus, love of truth to keep seeking it, etc. Is virtue causing higher IQ and, separately, cooperation in Prisoner’s Dilemma games?

I’m always inclined to poke holes in this IQ stuff because it’s counter-intuitive to me. If I were to just judge the case introspectively, I’d be inclined to think that intelligence is just a matter of trying hard and developing good habits. The evidence seems not to point that way, but rather than convincing me, that just leaves me flummoxed. I find the idea that some minds just aren’t able to solve certain problems difficult to get my head around. Maybe my brain is just genetically programmed not to believe that brains depend on genetic programming. 🙂

1. BK says:

“But it seems to me that VIRTUE is the main determinant of whether you cooperate in Prisoner’s Dilemma games. And virtue is also, I think, a factor in IQ: it takes courage to try to tackle a difficult problem, justice to look for balance and avoid bias, temperance to control distracting impulses and focus, love of truth to keep seeking it, etc. Is virtue causing higher IQ and, separately, cooperation in Prisoner’s Dilemma games?”

So, most of the variation in these virtues in middle-class Western families is due to genetic variation, they correlate substantially with brain mass and anatomy, reaction time, and various syndromes, and they just happen to move together in the right way to produce the observed data? Somehow I think that this approach is going to be less fruitful than reading the literatures (psychometrics, the experimental economics of IQ and game behavior, the neurobiology and genetics) yourself.

1. Vipul Naik says:

BK, the physiological correlates of IQ are non-negligible but not substantial. As far as I remember, the good correlations are 0.5 or lower. Arthur Jensen claimed that all the correlation was subsumed in the genetic component of IQ.

This leaves open plenty of possibilities and many stories are plausible.

1. BK says:

We have no factual disagreement, just word choice. I would call >0.5 “big.”

1. Vipul Naik says:

BK, I think the word choice matters, particularly when we are talking about correlations between more than two things. First, a correlation of 0.5 means explaining only 25% of the variance, which is non-negligible, but leaves ample room for a lot of other sources of explanation for the variance.

Second, if A and B are correlated 0.5, and B and C are correlated 0.5, the correlation between A and C could be anything ranging from -0.5 and 1 (this involves some trigonometry, so I won’t go into the details). Assuming the correlations themselves are uncorrelated, the correlation between A and C would be 0.25, which would mean that C explains a grand total of 6.25% of the variance in A.

(Just for completeness’s sake, the minimum correlation you’d need between two pairs to guarantee a nonnegative correlation across them would be $latex 1/\sqrt{2}$ which is about 0.71, explaining half the variance).

In this case, we were talking about the cooperation in the prisoner’s dilemma. Does this relate well with the physiological correlates of IQ? Unless this has been directly studied, we can only go by what has been measured. If a physiological correlate of IQ has a correlation of 0.5 with IQ and cooperation on RPD correlates 0.5 with IQ, then that leaves open the question of whether the physiological correlate of IQ correlates positively with cooperation on the RPD. The expected correlation is 0.25, which is 6.25% of the variance, but a correlation of 0 is possible, which would be consistent with a completely non-physiological explanation.

btw, “Virtue” itself might have physiological correlates. I’m not sure how Nathan defines the term, so I won’t comment more on this.

1. BK says:

I’m happy to concede on “substantial.”

“btw, “Virtue” itself might have physiological correlates.”

It would be hard to get an operationalization that didn’t have physiological correlates. But I was raising the issue because these aren’t naturally part of the moral intuitions Nathan was talking about.

2. Vipul Naik says:

What you call virtue is related to what psychologists call conscientiousness, which is positively correlated with IQ. But not wholly. You should check Garett’s papers to see if he considers conscientiousness. I vaguely recall he does, but I may be mistaken. My overall impression is that IQ almost always explains more of the variation than conscientiousness , but conscientiousness explains some of the left-over variation after controlling for IQ.

9. Concerning the case of East Asia, yes, East Asia achieved tremendous growth and poverty reduction without much help from immigration, and if East Asia’s experience could be replicated worldwide, the case for open borders would be less urgent. But many other countries have tried to emulate East Asia without much success. Part of the reason may be that East Asia had genetic and/or cultural advantages that other countries lacked. East Asia also has the geographic advantage that much of its population is located along the sea, with easy access to the world’s sea lanes. It is notable that in China growth has been concentrated along the coast. It is also likely that manufacturing exports as a path to prosperity are less available now because they have been so thoroughly exploited by the East Asians. Japan and South Korea only had to compete with high-wage unionized manufacturing workers in Detroit. Any country that aspires to rise through manufacturing exports now has to compete with low-wage workers in China. The general principle is that you grow by plugging into larger, richer, more productive networks of division of labor, and to the extent that that can be done by making physical stuff, that might be able to happen while populations are kept segregated. But a large part of what people consume is services.

Moreover, it’s not as if open borders and East Asia-style growth are at all INCOMPATIBLE. By all means, let countries grow through trade and foreign direct investment. No reason to regard open borders and trade/FDI as substitutes. Let’s have more of both.

1. Christopher Chang says:

Wages are rising pretty rapidly in China. I’m not too knowledgeable about this, but my understanding is that there are southeast Asian countries which are now starting to follow in China’s footsteps, so I don’t think that route has not been closed off by China’s mass. You raise a good question, though, and I’ll look for more data on this later (I’m in a bit of a rush right now).

While there is no technical incompatibility between open borders and East Asia-style growth, in practice there are political limits which force a tradeoff. Both require *some* sacrifice on the part of First World countries. Part of the reason Romney lost the 2012 election was because he was seen in the Rust Belt as an outsourcer. I claim that a mix that is relatively low on immigration, and higher on outsourcing, achieves the most per unit of political pain.

(I note that this calculus does not necessarily apply in authoritarian regimes like Singapore’s, but you are currently focused on changing policy in more democratic regimes.)

1. Christopher Chang says:

“so I don’t think that route has not been closed off” -> “so I don’t think that route has been closed off”

10. BK says:

Here’s a similar analysis using Garrett Jones’ (and Schneider’s) figures for estimating steady-state GDP per capita from national IQ data:

http://mason.gmu.edu/~gjonesb/JonesSchneIQ
Jones quote:

“These values imply that γIQ, the effect on log GDP per capita of a rise in national average
IQ of one point, is 0.061. In other words, assuming that (2) is the true data-generating process,
one IQ point appears to raise steady-state living standards by 6.1%. This is somewhat smaller
than the value implied by the simple bivariate relationship between IQ and log GDP per capita
illustrated in Table I, where one IQ point was associated with an 8.7% rise in log GDP per

Note that since, in our BACE framework, both β and γ´ are weighted the same way, our answer is invariant to
using BACE-weighted versus unweighted coefficients.33
capita. But it is still quite large, so the question naturally arises: Is this value quantitatively
plausible?”

Now consider some toy examples:

Example 1

Population 1 is made up of 100 million people with IQ m, who earn $x each,$100 million x total.

Population 2 is made up of 100 million people with IQ m+15. They earn $100 million*x*(1.061)^15, or$243 million x.

Total income is $343 million x. Now we combine the populations to form a new population of 200 million with IQ m+7.5. Its income is predicted to be$200 million x *(1.061)^7.5, or $312 million x, a decline of ~10%. In contrast, if migration were able to bring up population 1 up to population 2 ‘s standard (less a 15% penalty for lower IQ, reflecting the 1% per IQ point effect on wages at the individual level), then total GDP would have increased from$343 million x to ~$450 million x, around a 31% increase. Example 2 If we make population 1 twice as large as population 2, then initial GDP is$443 million (when the two are separated), and falls to $403 million (about 9%) after integration with wages set by average IQ, whereas the “upward convergence model” predicts an increase to$656 million, a 48% increase.

The aggregate losses here are moderate, with the collapsing income of population 2 mostly made up for by gains to population 1, consistent with the Malaysia-Singapore picture:

“Chinese-Singaporeans generate income almost twice as great in mostly Chinese Singapore as the large Chinese-Malaysian minority does in Malaysia (about $70,000 per annum vs about$38,000), even though there are less than 3 million Chinese in Singapore but almost 7 million in Malaysia. But the Chinese make up 75% of Singapore vs 25% of Malaysia… examples ”

More interesting quotes from Garrett Jones’ papers:

http://mason.gmu.edu/~gjonesb/IQandNationalProductivity.pdf

“As psychologists have known for decades,
average IQ scores differ when given to large samples in different nations, and recent
estimates indicate national average IQ correlates 0.7 with log GDP per capita”

“When IQ is normalized in conventional IQ points (UK mean
=100, standard deviation = 15), one IQ point is associated with approximately 1% higher
wages, but 6 to 7% higher national productivity. ”

“They find approximately the same 1:1 IQ/wage relationship others find in the labor
literature: immigrants from higher LV IQ nations earn modestly more after arrival in the
U.S. than immigrants from lower LV IQ nations. A one-point increase in national average IQ
predicts an approximate 1% increase in average income of immigrants from that country.
In a simple calibration Jones and Schneider find that this private marginal product of labor
channel can explain approximately 1/6th of the cross-country variation in log productivity
per worker. Workers from higher LV IQ countries are typically more productive, although
this private productivity channel is likely far from the whole story.”

“Using the structural equation methods common in
psychology, Rindermann and Thompson (2011) have found a reliable positive relationship
among national average cognitive skills, good pro-market institutions, and good economic
performance. Notably, that paper includes a separate estimate of the cognitive skills of the
highest-scoring 5% of the population in his OECD-heavy sample; they find that the skills of
the top 5% have disproportionate predictive power for good outcomes.”

“Jones and Schneider find that 1 IQ point is associated with slightly more than 0.1% faster
annual GDP growth; given their β estimate of slightly less than 2, they estimate that 1 IQ
point predicts 6% higher steady-state GDP per capita. As noted already, this is at least six
times greater than most estimates of the micro-level relationship between IQ and 8
individual productivity, and it is consistent with the hypothesis that IQ has positive
spillovers.”

1. BK says:

Rinderman’s most recent paper on “smart fraction” hypotheses, showing additional explanatory power from considering the ability or numbers of the smartest in a society, beyond mean IQ:

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/05/02/0956797611407207.abstract

(An ungated version can be found in a google search for “Cognitive Capitalism
The Effect of Cognitive Ability on Wealth, as Mediated Through Scientific Achievement and Economic Freedom”)

They calculate values for 5th percentile, 50th percentile, and 95th percentile IQ. 95th percentile has a high (0.81) correlation with log GDP per capita.

They also summarize earlier work that looked at the portion of people with IQ above 115, and used STEM success and economic freedom as intermediates [but beware of multiple analyses].

Normally the 5th, 50th, and 95th percentiles go closely together, but they diverge in multiracial societies made up of groups with very different IQ profiles, and those with strong assortative mating, as inbreeding high-IQ groups drag up the 95th percentile:

“the largest ability difference between 95th and the 5th percentiles occurred in South Africa (64 IQ points) but the difference was also large in the United States (45 IQ points); this difference was small in [ethnically homogenous] countries such as Macau (33 IQ points) and Finland (36 IQ points).”

In the U.S. the 95th percentile is disproportionately made up of Jewish and Asian Americans.

Countries with extensive intermarriage between ethnic groups (like Latin America) wind up with smart fraction figures that are roughly matched to mean IQ.

“Past longitudinal cross-lagged analyses across a generation (defined as a 30-year interval from the 1960s to the end of the century, controlled for economic freedom [I am suspicious of multiple analyses in this paper]) have shown a stronger influence of cognitive ability on wealth than of wealth on nations’ mean cognitive ability.”

In Rinderman’s discussion:

“In concrete numbers, an increase of 1 IQ point in the intellectual class (the 95th percentile) raises average GDP by $468, while an increase of 1 IQ point in the cognitive ability of the mean raises average GDP by$229.”

So how does this work if we again combine populations that differ in IQ by 15 points, as in the Jones/Schneider model?

Example 1

For population 1, with IQ 100, the 95th percentile is ~125, and mean is 100.

For a population 2, with IQ 85, 95th percentile is 110, and 125 represents the 99.62nd percentile.

So if we combine 100 million people from each population the 95th percentile of the new population should be approximately the 90th percentile of population 1, ~119, and the mean will be 92.5. So mean IQ falls by 7.5 points and 95th percentile falls by 6 IQ points.

Example 2

On the other hand, say we have nine members of population 2 for each member of population 1. Then mean IQ will be 86.5. and 95th percentile IQ will be around 113; falls of 13.5 and 12 IQ points.

Example 3

If instead of looking at the 95th percentile, we instead looked at the 99.99th percentile (thinking about physicists and tech innovators, perhaps) there is more of a difference:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/peabody/smpy/Top1in10000.pdf

Population 1’s 99.99th percentile IQ is 147, while population 2’s is 132. At the IQ 147 level, assuming normal distribution population 1 will be overrepresented by a factor of 5.5.

In a 50:50 population, the 99.99th percentile will fall to around 144, a 3 point fall, while mean IQ falls by 7.5 points.

But for GDP the 99.99th percentile hasn’t been shown to have such an amazing impact, and people with such talent levels already enjoy fairly open borders.

Example 4

If the two populations merge and intermarry then 95th percentile IQ will be the new mean IQ+25. A country which was previously all population 1 and then moves to 50:50 will have a mean IQ of 92.5 and 95th percentile of 117.5.

Takeaway: smart fraction theory isn’t much better for the open borders case than the simple average model.

2. BK says:

Interesting point by Jones: if high-IQ people produce positive externalities well above their market wages in poor countries, then citizenists in poor countries should be willing to offer larges subsidies for high-IQ immigration:

“If IQ has the sizeable positive externalities posited here, then there may be room for a
Coasian bargain between countries with low current LV IQ and higher IQ individuals in
other countries. One purely suggestive possibility: If the ratio of private to public benefits
of higher IQ are even half as large as the 6:1 ratio suggested by Jones and Schneider (2010),
a low LV IQ country could rationally offer a 100% subsidy for any wages a high IQ
immigrant earns in excess of that nation’s median wage. In practical terms, a 10 year
income tax holiday for permanent immigrants with engineering degrees could accomplish
the same goal of encouraging high IQ immigration. “

11. BK says:

A blog post by economist Jason Collins discussing the economic literature on the relative power of institutions and populations:

http://www.jasoncollins.org/2013/07/the-deep-roots-of-economic-development/

“the new Journal of Economic Literature paper How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development (ungated pdf) by Enrico Spolaore and Romain ”

http://sites.tufts.edu/enricospolaore/files/2012/08/RootsF.pdf

“[Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson’s] results do not establish a role for institutions. Specifically, the Europeans who settled in the New World may have brought with them not so much their institutions, but themselves, that is, their human capital. This theoretical ambiguity is consistent with the empirical evidence as well.”

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~elias/Michalopoulos_Papaioannou.pdf
“Michalopoulos and Papaioannou (2010) find that national institutions have little effect when one looks at the economic performance of homogeneous ethnic groups divided by national borders. …

Overall, their findings suggest that long-term features of populations, rather than institutions in isolation, play a central role in explaining comparative economic success.”

http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/125/4/1627.short
“Putterman and Weil’s results strongly suggest that the ultimate drivers of development cannot be fully disembodied from characteristics of human populations. When migrating to the New World, populations brought with them traits that carried the seeds of their economic performance. This stands in contrast to views emphasizing the direct effects of geography or the direct effects of institutions, for both of these characteristics could, in principle, operate irrespective of the population to which they apply. A population’s long familiarity with certain types of institutions, human capital, norms of behavior or more broadly culture seems important to account for comparative development.”

http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/18162.html

Easterly and Levine (2012) confirm and expand upon Putterman and Weil’s finding, showing that a large population of European ancestry confers a strong advantage in development, using new data on European settlement during colonization and its historical determinants. They find that the share of the European population in colonial times has a large and significant impact on income per capita today, even when eliminating Neo-European countries and restricting the sample to countries where the European share is less than 15 percent—that is, in non-settler colonies, with crops and germs associated with bad institutions.

1. BK says:

http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14448.html

“We construct a matrix showing the share of the year 2000 population in every country that is descended from people in different source countries in the year 1500. Using this matrix, we analyze how post-1500 migration has influenced the level of GDP per capita and within-country income inequality in the world today. Indicators of early development such as early state history and the timing of transition to agriculture have much better predictive power for current GDP when one looks at the ancestors of the people who currently live in a country than when one considers the history on that country’s territory, without adjusting for migration. Measures of the ethnic or linguistic heterogeneity of a country’s current population do not predict income inequality as well as measures of the ethnic or linguistic heterogeneity of the current population’s ancestors. An even better predictor of current inequality in a country is the variance of early development history of the country’s inhabitants, with ethnic groups originating in regions having longer histories of agriculture and organized states tending to be at the upper end of a country’s income distribution. However, high within-country variance of early development also predicts higher income per capita, holding constant the average level of early development.”