Some say that Asian Americans are naturally more intelligent than White Americans and therefore make more money on average.
Scientific racists say that it is just North East Asians – the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans – who are like that. Some say it is because only that part of Asia was cold and temperate enough like Europe to evolve higher levels of human intelligence.
This argument goes hand-in-hand with one about blacks: blacks are at the bottom not because of any supposed racism but because they have low IQs. They just do not have what it takes to succeed in a modern, technological society.
The argument does not hold up, not even if you go by the numbers scientific racists use.
Here are the average IQs that Richard Lynn gave in 2002 for different Asian countries. I put in White and Black America for comparison:
- 106 South Korea
- 105 Japan
- 103 White America
- 100 China
- 96 Vietnam
- 89 Cambodia
- 86 Philippines
- 85 Black America
- 81 India
Here are the average temperatures at their capitals in January in Celsius, using the average highs (from weather.com):
- 1 C: South Korea
- 1 C: China
- 9 C: Japan
- 19 C: Vietnam
- 21 C: India
- 30 C: Philippines
- 31 C: Cambodia
Roughly the same pattern. India and China do better, but that is not surprising: they are large countries with northern capitals. The Philippines is above Cambodia, but their temperatures, like their IQs, are close together.
So we have two kinds of Asians:
- Temperate zone Asians: high IQs (100-109): China, Japan, South Korea
- Tropical zone Asians: low IQs (80-99): India, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam
For comparison, whites come from the temperate zone, as do North Africans, while blacks come from the tropics.
Therefore when Asians come to America we expect to see the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese rise to the top, doing as well as or better than whites. But Filipinos, Indians and Cambodians should all do markedly worse, getting stuck somewhere close to the level of blacks. They just do not have what it takes to succeed in a modern, technological society. The Vietnamese, though, should rise to somewhere between blacks and whites.
So how well do they do in America?
Here are the personal median incomes (from the 2000 US Census):
- $26,000 Japan
- $26,000 India
- $23,640 White America
- $23,000 Philippines
- $20,000 China
- $16,300 Black America
- $16,300 South Korea
- $16,000 Vietnam
- $16,000 Cambodia
Japan, China and Cambodia are roughly where we expect them to be, but the others are way off. Koreans should be at the top – instead they are $300 from the bottom. Indians should be at the bottom, but instead they are tied for the top.
You could reasonably argue that the Vietnamese and Koreans, unlike most of the Chinese, Japanese and blacks, have not been in America long enough to rise to their “natural” positions. But then what about Indians and Filipinos? They should have never passed the Chinese, not even in a hundred years, not if average IQ is what counts most in America. But they did.
Either Lynn’s IQs are way wrong or they are not the main cause of Asian American success and failure. Or both.