Tag Archives: IQ

How Children Succeed

How Children Succeed

How Children Succeed

It seems that I have a stack of books that stretch forever high – forever.  And I never seem to get through them.  Worse, I start a book, get part way through and start another.  This habit results in me having 2-3-4 books in flight at all times.

That has to end, so maybe blogging my reading will enhance my completion rate as well as get me to finish the book I’m on before picking up a new one.

We’ll see.

Anyway, the first book to hit the blog is How Children Succeed.

I came across the book through a recommendation by Dr. Steve Green over at Fully Myelinated.  Steve mentioned that it was one of his favorite books on how kids achieve.  Further, Steve posts from a liberal perspective, so in the spirit of bi-partisanship, I felt that I owed it a college try.

All in all, not a bad read, though it did drag at points.

Anyway, here it is:

How Children Succeed – Introduction

The book is a look at how school children achieve in school.  I’ve been interested in this topic for quite awhile now.  I’m mostly interested in how we can increase reading, graduation and college completion, however, I think it’s important to study the why’s and the how’s.

In full disclosure, I’m highly influenced by the concept of IQ and the heritability of IQ.  While I’m sympathetic to the notion that IQ and IQ tests are, at best, imperfect measurements, the idea that there exists an “intelligence”, described by g, is a powerful one.

Further, I have read and am a firm believer in the research presented in “The Bell Curve”.

The book starts with the author researching a pre-school and identifying the fact that the school was using non-cognitive techniques to engage the kids.  And, as a new father, he was fascinated.  After all, all the rage in the research suggested that kids need to focus on cognitive techniques in order to maximize achievement later in life.

However, there may be a different way.  And at the center of that movement is Dr. James Heckman, an economist from the University of Chicago.  And the good doctor had studied the children of The Perry Preschool Project.  This is the project that demonstrated a preschool has  a positive impact on achievement but that benefit faded after only a few years.

However, when Dr. Heckman went deeper into the data he found that the benefits of that preschool manifest later in life:

At age 27 follow-up

  • Completed an average of almost 1 full year more of schooling (11.9 years vs. 11 years)
  • Spent an average of 1.3 fewer years in special education services — e.g., for mental, emotional, speech, or learning impairment (3.9 years vs. 5.2 years)
  • 44 percent higher high school graduation rate (66% vs. 45%)

Pregnancy outcomes for preschool group (versus control group):

At age 27 follow-up

  • Much lower proportion of out-of-wedlock births (57% vs. 83%)
  • Fewer teen pregnancies on average (0.6 pregnancies/woman vs. 1.2 pregnancies/woman)

Lifetime criminal activity for preschool group (versus control group):

At age 40 follow-up

  • 46 percent less likely to have served time in jail or prison (28% vs. 52%)
  • 33 percent lower arrest rate for violent crimes (32% vs. 48%)

Economic outcomes for preschool group (versus control group):

At age 40 follow-up

  • 42 percent higher median monthly income ($1,856 vs. $1,308)

  • 26 percent less likely to have received government assistance (e.g. welfare, food stamps) in the past ten years (59% vs. 80%)

Heckman discovered that while the preschool didn’t enhance IQ it DID manifest change in those kids.  And that change occurred in what Heckman would call non-cognitive skills:

  • Curiosity
  • Self-control
  • Social Fluidity
  • Many  others

This book is about those skills and how they help contribute to student achievement.


More Thinking On IQ


I was in conversation with a friend the other day when IQ came up.  And I used my road construction worker /Harvard grad example again.  Which got me to thinking.

Is there anyone alive right now that really believes the mean intelligence of 1,000 road construction workers is anywhere near the mean intelligence of 1,000 Harvard law graduates?

With that being true, we have to accept that given a random mate selection process that filters on intelligence, the children of the Harvard Law grads would have higher levels of intelligence than the children of the construction workers.  EXCEPT the gap would be smaller.  With a similar random mate selection occurring in the second generation, the grandchildren of the Harvard Law grads would be much more equal to the grandchildren of the construction workers.

Which means that it is okay to say that one group of people has elevated levels of intelligence without implying that another group is somehow genetically limited in their ability to attain those same levels.

It very well may be true that immigrants to America are less intelligent than the domestic population.  This shouldn’t be controversial.

Moving away from the immigration debate, consider what happens to the first and then second generation Harvard Law grads vs construction worker if mate selection is NOT randomized.  That is, we filter ourselves via homogamy.

Now the Harvard Law graduates are not marrying random mates, rather, they are marrying people much like themselves.  Almost certainly a college graduate and likely a member of the same social class.  And if the same phenomenon is occurring at the lower range of intelligence, the opposite expected results will take place – perhaps with consequences that are startling.

Poverty tracks with lower cognitive ability.  Likewise, lower cognitive ability predicts more children sooner with more of those children being illegitimate, which further drives poverty and risk.

I’m not sure what it all means, but it’s a rather scary proposition.

Musings On IQ


They repaved my neighborhood streets this past week.  As I was waiting for the pilot car I was struck by how good these guys were at making roads.

But how horrible they were at managing the schedule of pilot cars.

And I got to thinking:

  • IQ is highly heritable.  Up to 80% so.
  • IQ tests are an imperfect measure of intelligence.  But in the aggregate, are pretty good.
  • 100 years ago, occupation didn’t filter IQ.  That is, we had very intelligent people working in factories and shops and in the trades.  Much more so than we have today.
  • As colleges have become better at sorting on IQ, we have become a society that is sorted by intelligence.
  • People marry who they hang out with.
  • If intelligent people hang out with and marry other intelligent people, they will have children who have higher IQs.
  • If you took 1,000 employees who held traffic signs at construction sites and measured their IQs they would score lower than 1,000 college graduates.
  • Those 1,000 college graduates would score lower than 1,000 Harvard alum.

I don’t know what policy implications this has, but I’m afraid of the ramifications.


IQ, Heritage and The Left

Bell Curve

Recently the Heritage Foundation released a report claiming that a currently proposed immigration plan would cost a ton of money.   I haven’t spent much time on the report, though maybe I should, largely because I don’t think that our borders ought to be opened or closed based on the fiscal calculus of the immigrant.

America is a place for anyone in the world to aspire to come to.  And we should make sure that we are accommodating anyone that wants to leave behind an oppressive regime that suppresses economic liberty.  We are, as we are fond of saying, the land of the free.

However, an interesting side story of the Heritage report is the history of one of the authors, Jason Richwine.  It turns out that Mr. Richwine received his PhD at Harvard and his doctoral thesis focused on IQ and immigration.  Last week I mentioned this:

I’ll drift over to our more liberal media sources later to see if this is making waves.

Well, I did and it did.

Everyone is ablush concerning the whole study of Mr. Richwine.

See, it turns out that some people think that intelligence, measured in terms of IQ, is a matter of genetics or, perhaps more accurately, heritability.   The difference being that genetics determines that humans have one nose, two ears and hair.  Heritability determines the size of the nose, the shape of the ear and color of the hair.

At its most basic, the argument that IQ is a matter of “genetics” is the idea that, in general, smart parents, in aggregate, will have smart children, in aggregate.  This is meant to be read in the same way that tall people, in aggregate, will have tall children while short parents will have short children.  Does this imply that all tall parents will only and ever have tall children?  Certainly not.  It’s meant to say that height, ear lobe shape, hair color and even looks are based in some part on the parents.

In short, people with high IQs will trend to have children with high IQs.  Those parents scoring low on IQ tests will, generally, have children who score lower on IQ tests.

I think it’s important to say that  IQ tests may or may not accurately measure intelligence, or G.  In fact many people, most likely correctly, feel that IQ tests are not a strict measure of intelligence but are rather measures of cultural influences and education.  That is, equally intelligent people, having been raised in vastly different homes, may score differently on the same IQ test.

Granted.  Sure, circumstances are going to differ.  Tests measuring intelligence are going to be, to a degree, biased.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that intelligence is a trait.  And people are going to enjoy the benefits or suffer from a deficit of that trait, across a spectrum.  There is no disputing that we have intelligent people and those who lack that intelligence.  Further, we all know that siblings of smart kids are often smart and vice versa.

The science behind the heritability of intelligence is overwhelming.  Intelligence, measured by the albeit flawed IQ, is massively heritable.  Some measures have it at 80% heritable while others, at the low end, have it only at 40%.

When read in this light, the claims made by people who state that some group of people is smarter than some other group of people shouldn’t be surprising.  Or controversial.  Or worthy of all the gnashing of teeth  If, for example, I were to claim that neurosurgeons were, in general, more intelligent than, say, garbage men, I don’t think anyone one would blink an eye.  And if were to take that one step further and say that the children of neurosurgeons were, in general, more intelligent than the children of garbage men, I don’t think that would be surprising either.

So, when Richwine makes a claim that immigrants have a lower IQ, read G, than native born Americans, he’s saying that people that live in America, as a group, are simply more intelligent than the group of people that decide to immigrate to America.  I don’t think he’s saying that the race of people that live in America is inherently and forever going to be more intelligent than that race of people moving to America from foreign countries.

Heck, in one way, it might even make sense.  If people who are less intelligent find that they are on the low end of the economic scale, they might be the very individuals most motivated to immigrate to America in hopes of a better life.  After all, the individuals in a nation who are most economically advanced are going to find the risk/reward calculus to be one that incents them to remain where they are.

And the left goes crazy at this notion.  The idea that some people are simply born smarter smacks them of some .. well, of some “I can’t describe it” impossibility.  We can be born of different heights that fit on a bell curve.  Of weights.  Of heart size and of athletic ability.  Hair color, eye color and freckles all can be described by heritability.  But plain old smarts?


That goes against the whole notion that we’re all equal.  Born equal.  Living equal and should be expected to achieve equally if only we can remove the bias of wealth, power and influence.

Which is bullshit.

So, does the comment offered by Richwine:

No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against. From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.

sound offensive and harsh?  I think it does both.  While I don’t like the aspect that speaks to “ever reach IQ parity” I do find myself resonating with the concept that a group of people with low IQs are going to have children with equally low IQs even extending to their children’s children.

And while sensitive to discuss, I don’t think it poses a conceptual reality that we would dismiss if, instead of having differing IQ, immigrants had differing heights.

And ALL of this is not ever saying that the ability of a group of people to increase their collective IQ isn’t possible.

By the way, one of the defenses of Richwine’s statements comes from the left itself:

First, the concept of “race”: There is no “Hispanic race.” It’s a census category, not a biological one. What we call “Hispanics” in the United States includes Indian peasants from Yucat&aaccute;n and doctors from Mexico City (and Madrid).

You cannot be racist if you are describing a group of people that has nothing in common regarding race.  “The Nation” is correct in asserting that Hispanic is not a racial descriptor, rather, it is one of, perhaps arbitrary definition.  The fact that the left dances between outrage and smugness should be no surprise.  Consider, for example, how folks on the right are “racists” when it comes to immigration reform while simultaneously pointing out that George Zimmerman is a “white Hispanic”.

As if.

Finally, like a nail in the coffin, is the logical conclusion of the left’s argument.  Namely that anyone claiming that intelligence is heritable is a racists is based on the idea that racism is a result of low IQ:

The last word in this story goes a study published in 2012 the journal Psychological Science. “In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874),” the researchers wrote, “we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood.”

As I predicted, the left is going nuts regarding Wichwine and anyone who might indicate that one group of people, for whatever reason, might be more intelligent than another group of people.

Immigration, Heritage and IQ


This is going to go over like a ton of bricks:

One of the authors of a Heritage Foundation report that panned a Senate plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws argued in his doctoral dissertation that immigrants generally have lower IQs than the “native white population” of the United States.

Jason Richwine, who received his doctorate in public policy from Harvard in 2009 and joined the conservative Heritage Foundation in 2012, wrote in his dissertation titled “IQ and Immigration Policy” that immigrants in the U.S. have lower IQs than native Americans, and that that difference “is likely to persist over several generations.”

“The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market,” Richwine wrote, in a story first reported by The Washington Post. “Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.”

I’ll drift over to our more liberal media sources later to see if this is making waves.


Crime: Socio-Economic vs IQ – The Bell Curve

It’s here, the last chapter comparison between the impact of the socioeconomic status of the family or the mother of the children and the IQ of the same.

I last posted on crime back in late July and then I mentioned:

When I picked up the book I was looking for books on “How to Raise Chickens” as a result of a post of mine some time back.  I saw the book on the shelves and was taken by the title.  I bought it and it was immediately relegated to my stack.  Some time later, Boortz was speaking about the author and I decided I better begin the book.  At this time I was still unaware of the controversy of the book.  Then I posted on it.  I was then made aware of the controversy.

As I mentioned then, I wasn’t aware of the massive controversy of the book.  I simply saw it on the shelf, bought it and then heard it referenced on the radio.  I started reading it and then posted on it.  Only later did I learn of that controversy.  And when I actually hit the big chapter, chapter 13, I understood why.

Now, as then, I won’t go further than chapter 12 [11 actually, I don’t find 12 interesting] and for the same reasons.  However, the controversy that surrounds the later sections of the book shouldn’t diminish the value that the first chapters deliver.

Now.  Crime.

The authors look to quantify crime in two ways:

  1. Asking if the man ever was engaged in criminal activity.
  2. Reporting if the man was interviewed in a correctional facility.

As they point out, both have weaknesses.  The self-reporting may not be accurate but does have the upside of capturing uncaught criminal activity.  The other has valid crime involvement but doesn’t capture criminals who haven’t been caught.  The “smart” ones.

The results are below:

And then:

In both cases, when controlling for other factors, the SES status of the family fades and becomes meaningless.  In fact, as SES increases so to does the rate of self reported crime.  And in both cases, a man possessing a low IQ is at significant risk for each category.


Parenting: Socio-Economic vs IQ – The Bell Curve

In considering the many ills that face society, there has been a large focus on the socio-economic status of the family or of the individual in the desire to explain the condition at hand.  For example, if a child grows up to become a criminal, we ask, “what was the socio-economic condition of that child or his parents?”

The idea behind this, of course, is that if we can isolate the failure to the economic inequality of society, then we can begin to “fix it” through governmental programs bent on promoting “equality.”

But what if there was another reason why people did the things they do?  In this section, I speak about Parenting as discussed in the book, “The Bell Curve.”

In the chapter regarding parenting, the first condition discussed is low birth weight babies.  Previously I have shown data that suggests that the SES status of the mother has little bearing on the determination of that condition in children.

But IQ:


As mentioned, the impact of the socio-economic status of the mother is nominal; the IQ of the mother is not.  A low IQ has a major impact on the chance of a baby being born with a low birth weight; SES – not as much.

After being born, the child must face life.  Specifically the prospect of being poor.  Initially, the authors held all variable constant and displayed the prospects of a child remaining poor in the fist 3 years of life based on the mother’s SES.  It didn’t look good.  But what happens if we include IQ:

No change.  The poverty rate of the child is equally determined by the SES and the IQ of the mother.  With the data showing such an exact match as both SES and IQ moved from low to high, I suspect that there is a case where one is determined by the other.

Again, following the sections in this chapter, the topic switches to the Home Index:

The Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) Inventory is designed to measure the quality and extent of stimulation available to a child in the home environment. The Infant/Toddler HOME Inventory (IT-HOME) comprises 45 items that provide information from the child’s perspective on stimuli found to affect children’s cognitive development. Assessors make observations during home visits when the child is awake and engaged in activities typical for that time of the day and conduct an interview with a parent or guardian. The IT-HOME is organized into six subscales: (1) Responsivity: the extent of responsiveness of the parent to the child; (2) Acceptance: parental acceptance of suboptimal behavior and avoidance of restriction and punishment; (3) Organization: including regularity and predictability of the environment; (4) Learning Materials: provision of appropriate play and learning materials; (5) Involvement: extent of parental involvement; and (6) Variety in daily stimulation. For the IT-HOME, 18 items are based on observation, 15 on interview, and 12 on either observation or interview.

This index was applied to the population in the study and the result showed that the socio-economic status of the mother played a role in the HOME Index rating.  However, IQ played an even more significant role:

As you can see, a lower IQ is more devastating than a poor mother while I high IQ is more beneficial than a wealthy mother.

As the child grows, the development of the child can be impacted by the  conditions of the home, poverty and parenting skills are, of course, two of those conditions.  In an attempt to measure this development, the authors conducted a survey of 4 developmental indicators and if a child scored in the bottom decile for any of the 4, they scored a “Yes” on the “development index.”  If not, they scored a no.

The results:

The pattern is again, presented.  IQ at the low end is more detrimental than poverty while at the high end, IQ is more advantageous than being wealthy.  However, in this specific study that difference is marginal.

The final section of the chapter looks into the IQ of the child and tries to determine the significance of been raised in a home more exposed to the challenges of poverty vs. being raised in a more affluent home.  Additionally, the same investigation is conducted using the key variable of IQ:

The result is consistent with data already being demonstrated in this and other chapters.  The argument can be made that when isolating the socio-economic status of families and of mothers in the study the well being of the child generally suffers as that mother becomes poorer.  However, when all variables are held constant save IQ, those other factors are diminished to the point of being statistically insignificant.

IQ matters.

Welfare: Socio-Economic vs IQ – The Bell Curve

We’re moving from “The Family” to “Welfare” in the latest installment on “The Bell Curve.”

The series has been focusing on various snapshots of impact that the wealth of an individual or family may have and then at the impact that IQ may have.  Long has the argument been made that much of the disparity in America is due to the fact that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

Perhaps it has less to do with the wealth of the family and more to do with the IQ of the family.

So, moving towards welfare.

Previously I posted on the probability of going on welfare, within one year, after the birth of the first child.  I posted on this probability using only the socioeconomic status of the family.  Here I show both the SES and the IQ of the mother:

The impact is significant.  Even more so after accounting for the fact that a woman with higher IQ would be able to avoid the condition that would result in welfare.  Yet, after accounting for age, poverty, marital status and SES, we see that IQ plays a massive role in the probability of welfare reliance.

Next, the topic of chronic welfare dependency.  The data suggests see below, that SES plays at least as important a role as IQ does.  However, the data is restricted to the point that makes it important to point out a note.  Of the women in the study that were long term recipients of welfare, none scored in the quintile of cognitive ability; only 5 were in the second quintile.

With that caveat, here is the data:

Both the economic background of the mother AND the IQ play a part.  As I mentioned in the original post, education may be the relevant influence on this topic.

The Family: Socioeconomics vs IQ – The Bell Curve

The election, work and a jammed family schedule have impacted not only the amount of recent blogging but the subject matter as well.  It’s been over a month since my last installment of the impact of IQ on the conditions of all of us.

The Impact of IQ on Family Matters

I’ve gone over subjects such as poverty, education and employment.  I’ve taken an approach that first shows the impact of the socioeconomic status of the folks involved; sometimes the parents or family and sometimes the individual himself.  Then I’ve come back to show what the circumstances look like when the population has been described in terms of IQ.  So far, to me, the differences are stunning.

Today I look to continue this by checking out the family.


Because of the massive positive impact that being married has on society, it’s important to track who is getting married, when and why.  Earlier I showed a chart that described the state of folks at 30.  And because of the natural tendency of education to suppress marriage, both high school only and college graduates were displayed.  The chart below now includes taking IQ into account:

Most likely due to the fact that college is highly tracked to IQ, the differences don’t really matter.  But looking at the IQ of individuals without college education the impact i s large.  Of those with average IQs, 80% are married by 30.  Compare this with those of very low cognitive ability and their rate of 60%.

As I mentioned before, if marriage is important, then so is divorce.  And what does the comparison show?  Look:

The trends are interesting.  As individuals become wealthier, they are more likely to end their marriages in divorce.  But in a completely opposite way and manner, as the IQ of the folks increases, their likelihood of divorce decreases.

The subject of marriage is important because of the impact to the lives of the children of those families.  Because of this importance, it is required to look at the circumstances of birth.  Specifically illegitimate births.

The data are clear.  While the impact of the SES status is important, the top to bottom difference is 10 points, the impact of the IQ is even higher.  Where SES can show a 2 to 1 ratio, IQ shows a 7 to 1 ratio.

The last comparison is that of illegitimate births to white women already below the poverty line.  The data shows that as SES status increases so does the probability that a child is born out of wedlock.  If we include IQ?


In perhaps the most glaring demonstration of the impact of IQ, this metric shows that women with higher cognitive ability avoid births out of wedlock at remarkable levels while women with lower cognitive ability are much less likely to avoid this condition.

In each of the 4 comparisons, IQ is shown to have a positive impact on the favorable conditions expected.  In some cases moderate, in others dramatic.

Next up – we look at the impact of IQ compared to SES and welfare.

Employment: Socioeconomics vs IQ – The Bell Curve

The Impact Of IQ On Employment:

In previous posts I’ve explored the impact that socioeconomic status has on various measurements in society.  For example, we’ve seen that poverty, education and employment, among other measures, are influenced by the socioeconomic status of the family unit.  In fact, I’ve gone through the whole list of factors explored by the authors of the book, “The Bell Curve” and explored just that impact.

But is that the whole story?

The book presents a second half, another “look” if you will.  And that “other look” is the impact of IQ on these various outcomes.  This post will deal with the impact of IQ on employment.

Probability of Being Out of the Labor Force

One of the measures of the employment prospects of an individual is being active in the labor force; are you looking for a job.  I’ve already presented the data that explains an unexpected result.  Namely, that as the socioeconomic status of the family increases, so does the probability that a white male in the study will leave the labor force for at least a month in 1989.

However, the authors asked another question, “What if age, socioeconomic status and race are held constant, what happens then?  What role does IQ play in labor force participation?

It’s pretty straightforward.  Those of us scoring the lowest on IQ tests are predicted to leave the labor force at a 20% clip.  Those of us scoring in the 2nd standard deviation?  We’re leaving the labor force at only a 5% rate.

Whereas socioeconomic status seems to play a “reversed role” here, IQ is a dramatic predictor in labor force participation.

Probability of Being Unemployed

The second measurement of employment prospects is the rate at which folks find themselves unemployed.  Unemployed is different than being out of the labor force, of course, because being unemployed implicitly acknowledges that an individual is looking for work.

Again, I’ve peeked at the impact that the socioeconomic status of the family has on the unemployment prospects of an individual, and the results are in; almost none.  About 1% separates the poorest families from the wealthiest.

And the impact of IQ?

Again, powerful.

Those folks scoring lowest in IQ tests are predicted to have a 16% chance of being unemployed for a month or more in 1989.  Those scoring the highest?  4%.  In other words, those scoring low on IQ tests have a 400% better chance of being unemployed than those scoring on the high end on those same tests.

Being rich or poor has little impact.  Scoring well or not has a massive impact.