Home » HBD » On Asian Immigration to the United States, Hyper-Selectivity, and Hereditarian Musings on Asian Academic Success

On Asian Immigration to the United States, Hyper-Selectivity, and Hereditarian Musings on Asian Academic Success

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Hereditarians champion Asians (specifically East Asians) as proof of their gene-centric worldview—that their genetic constitution allows their stellar performance in educational and life outcomes. However, scholars have noted for decades that Asians are a specially selected group—using what is known as “hyper-selectivity” or “educational selectivity.” Immigrants that are more likely to have a college degree compared to those in their native country and their host nation; they bring over different kinds of class tools that then help their progeny in the next generation. This selectivity gives the children of immigrants—whether it be 1.5 generation (children that emigrated during adolescence) or second generation children—a better “starting point”, and, along with the cultural tools, allows them to succeed in America. In this article, I will describe the process of immigration of certain Asian groups to America, and then I will argue that what explains their success today is not genes as hereditarians try to argue, but the selectivity of the population in question and then I will argue against the hereditarian position.

Although they seem dissimilar, educational and hyper-selectivity share some common ground. Immigrant selectivity describes the fact that those who emigrate are not a random sample of the population from which they derive, but they have better educational accolades than those that stayed behind (Borjas, 1987; Borjas, Kauppinen, and Poutvaara, 2018; Sporlein and Kristen, 2019). There is then the concept of negative selection, too (contrasted with positive selection, which is what educational and hyper-selectivity are). There is both a positive and negative selection occurring, and immigrants are indeed a self-selected group with selection also occurring for unobserved traits (Aydemir, 2003). Indeed, migrants to less equal countries like the US are positively selected (Parry et al, 2017) and those that do migrate are more skilled, ambitious, and motivated (Cattaneo, 2007). Immigrants are in general more educated than those who do not migrate, but this differs depending on country of origin (Feliciano, 2005) while economic migrants are favorably self-selected (Chiswick, 1999).

From immigrant yellow peril to model minority

Asian immigration to the United States has been occurring in large numbers since the 1860s. During that time, Chinese immigrants wanted to escape the horrid situation in China and try their luck in the California gold rush and they had aspirations to return to China after they had made some money. They mostly came from the Guangdong province in China (Jorae, 2009). This was the first wave of Asian immigration to America. Between 1882 and 1943 the US government severely restricted the immigration of the Chinese into America since they were emigrating to work on the transcontinental railroad, and they passed the legislation so native-born Americans could get the jobs (Zellar, 2003; Gates, 2017). (It’s also worth noting that immigrant labor between 1880s and 1920s was a necessary condition for the industrial revolution; Hirschman and Mogford, 2009.) The first exclusionary act was the act of May, 6 1882, and it had lasting negative effects until at least the 1940s (Long et al, 2022). Chinese immigrants then began a “revolving door system” where young workers replaced older workers (Chew, Leach, and Liu, 2018). In 1885, the first Chinese-only school was opened. So in 1892 the second piece of legislation—the Geary Act—was passed, which was a further exclusionary tactic. Porteus and Babcock (1926: 37) noted how by 1888 that the Chinese in Hawaii “had infiltrated every trade and occupation in the islands.” It was then in 1942 where FDR repealed these two legislations on the Chinese.

But perceptions on the Chinese began to change. From being known as “the yellow peril” in the late 19th to early 20th century, a Gallup poll in 1942 stated that the Chinese were “hardworking, honest, brave, religious, intelligent, and practical” while in that same poll, the Japanese were described as “treacherous, sly, cruel, and warlike.” This of course speaks to the xenophobic attitudes of Americans at the time, and further speaks to the kind of “villain of the week” mentality.

The second wave of Asian immigration was the Japanese and the became the new source of cheap labor after the Chinese in the early 20th century. They were treated as the Chinese were treated previously, and due to a “gentleman’s agreement” between Japan in America in 1908, Japan limited migration of Japanese to America to non-laborers (Hirschman and Wong, 1987: 6). But the immigration act of 1924—the Johnson Reed Act—even barred Asian immigration from countries from which it previously allowed. Nevertheless, previous attitudes on the Chinese and Japanese show one important thing—that racist ideals toward a group of people can and do change over the years.

When it comes to the Taiwanese, they had already secured a spot in America by having a large amount of Taiwanese immigrants that who had college degrees before 1965. After the Hart-Cellar act was passed they stayed in the country and then sponsored their highly educated family members to America, and so this is an explanation for why there is hyper-selectivity (Model, 2017).

From a “peril” and “treacherous and warlike” to “hardworking, honest and intelligent” in mere decades. Americans in the early 20th century, in fact, looked at Asians back then as blacks are looked at today, with similar claims made about genital and brain size to Asians back then.

Asians are said to be “model minorities” today, due to their educational attainment and higher incomes. Lee and Zhou (2015: 31-32) state three things about “model minority” status:

(1) It overlooks the fact that Asians aren’t a monolith and comprise many different ethnic groups that don’t have the same model outcomes.

(2) It has been used to claim that “race doesn’t matter” in America since Asians can apparently make it in America despite non-white status.

(3) It pits Asian Americans against other minorities.

It has been said that the model minority stereotype “masks a history of discrimination“, “holds Asian Americans back at work” and that it “hurts us all.” I will explain higher educational attainment below, but when it comes to higher incomes, Asian families are more likely to live in extended (auxiliary) families which contribute to the income of the household (Reyes, 2019). Asian American families have an average of 3.5 people, which makes them larger than the average US family. As Jennifer Lee notes:

High household incomes among Asian Americans can also be explained by “the fact that some live in multi-generational homes with more than one person earning an income,” said Jennifer Lee, a sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine, and co-author of the book “The Asian-American Achievement Paradox.” “You have parents, grandparents, an aunt, some children.”

Nevertheless, the history of Asians in America—whether it’s when they first arrived and the racism they faced or today being seen as “model minorities”, is suggestive as to why they are so successful in America today. They are so successful because it’s not merely any kind of people of the country in question that emigrate, it’s a specific kind of people with specific outlooks and qualifications. This, in effect, then explains the how and why of Asian academic achievement.

Hyper-selectivity and the Asian American experience

Hyper-selectivity refers to the “higher percentage of college graduates among immigrants compared to non-migrants from their country of origin, and a higher percentage of college graduates compared to the host country” (Lee and Zhou, 2015: 15). This selective process began in the 1960s, and the federal policies themselves select a particular kind of entrant into the country (Juun, 2007; Ho, 2017; Model, 2017). Asians in America can be said to be a “middleman minority” (Hirschman and Wong, 1987), where a “middleman minority” refers to “minority entrepreneurs who mediate between the dominant and subordinate group” (Douglas and Saenz, 2008; see also Bonacich, 1973). It is an occupational pattern rather than a status (Lou, 1988). Lee and Rong (1988) seek explanations of Asian educational success in terms of family structure, along with middleman and niche theories of migration.

Some would uphold a culturalist thesis—that what explains exceptional educational outcomes for Asians would be their culture. For example, Asian Americans study about one hour more per day than whites (Tang, 2021), though one 2011 analysis found that Asians spent more time studying and doing homework—Asians spent 13 hours per week studying while whites only studies for 5. Asian Americans spend significantly more time studying than other racial groups (Ramey and Shao, 2017). When it comes to homework, black students spent 36 minutes on homework, “Hispanic” students spent 50 minutes, white students spent 56 minutes, and Asians spent 2 hours and 14 minutes doing homework, while they also spent more time on other supplementary educational tasks (Dunachik and Park, 2022). Asian American parents were also more likely to spend 20 minutes with their children helping with their homework (Garcia, 2013).

Some would state that this is due to an “Asian culture”, but reality tells a different story. The hyper-selectivity of Asians explains this, and their successes cannot be reduced to their culture. Lee and Zhou (2017) state that “Asian immigrants to the United States are hyper-selected, which results in the transmission and recreation of middle-class specific cultural frames, institutions, and practices, including a strict success frame as well as an ethnic system of supplementary education to support the success frame for the second generation.Yiu (2013) notes that Chinese in Spain have much lower educational attainment and ambitions in comparison to other ethnies in Spain. Merely twenty percent of Chinese youth were enrolled in post-secondary school, while 40 percent of all youths and 30 percent of all immigrants were (Yiu, 2013).

Context matters. And the ambitions of a group of people would then depend on national context. This is what Noam (2014) found for the Chinese in the Netherlands—where Chinese Americans accept the cultural values of high educational attainment, Chinese Dutch oppose them:

In the United States and
the Netherlands the second-generation Chinese approach their ethnocultural values regarding education in dissimilar ways—either accepting or opposing them—yet they both adjust them to their national context.

What is termed the “immigrant paradox” is stronger in Asian and African than other immigrants (Crosnoe and Turley, 2017). Tran et al (2018) note how likely a certain immigrant group would be to have a higher degree in comparison to those in their country of origin:

Among the population age twenty-five and older, first-generation immigrants reported significantly higher percentages of having a bachelor’s degree or higher than their nonmigrant counterparts in respective home countries. This achievement gap is most striking between Chinese nonmigrants and Chinese immigrants in the United States, but also substantial for the other three groups. Only 3.6 percent of nonmigrant Chinese reported having a college education, but 52.7 percent of immigrant Chinese held a bachelor’s degree. This hyper-selectivity ratio of 17:1 between immigrant and nonmigrant means that Chinese immigrants were disproportionately well educated relative to non-migrants. This ratio is about 8:1 for Asian Indians. This gap is also quite stark among Nigerians. Immigrant Nigerians (63.8 percent) were six times more likely than their nonmigrant counterparts to report having a bachelor’s degree or more (11.5 percent). Their hyper-selectivity ratio is about 6:1. Similarly, 23.5 percent of immigrant Cubans reported having a college degree relative to only 14.2 percent of nonmigrant Cubans, a gap of 9 percent. Among Armenians, the corresponding gap is about 10 percent.

Genetic and cultural hypotheses have been contrasted in an attempt to explain why Asian Americans excel over and above whites. Sue and Okazaki (1990) take a structuralist interpretation—they argue that Asians believe that education is paramount for social mobility. Lynn (1991) rejects Sue and Okazaki’s relative functionalism hypothesis, though it should be noted that hereditarian beliefs about genes and IQ are highly suspect and, frankly, do not work. There is also the fact that, as Sue and Okazaki (1990: 48), note that “Lynn failed to take into account the fact that the Japanese samples tended to have higher socioeconomic standing and a higher representation of urban than rural children than did the American samples from which the norms were constructed.” (Also see Sautman, 1994 and Yee, 1992: 111.) Sue and Okazaki showed that Asians differed from white Americans on one question—they were more likely than white Americans to believe that success in life was related to school success, and this is consistent with the Lee and Zhou account.

In Lynn’s (1991) reply to Sue and Okazaki, he notes that their relative functionalism hypothesis has to be dismissed, but he did not discount the role of motivation, staying longer in school and doing more homework. He then—in typical Lynn style—claims that these traits have high heritability and so a genetic hypothesis should not be discounted. Sue and Okazaki (1991) responded, discussing Lynn’s views on CWT, Asian adoptees, and what he says about their relative functionalism hypothesis. In any case, Lynn’s reply is in no way satisfactory, since his belief that genes contribute to IQ scores (that IQ is genetically mediated) is false. Nevertheless, Flynn showed that when IQ is held constant, that when compared with whites, that “Asian’s achievements exceed those of Whites by a huge amount.”

PumpkinPerson claims, using the Coleman report (Coleman, 1966) that “the incredible scores of Oriental Americans is not at all explained by selective immigration” and that he “decided to compare them in the first grade before environment has had much time to cause differences.” I will take both if these claims in turn.

(1) This is false. While selection wasn’t really a thing for Chinese immigrants, it has been noted that the children of Chinese immigrants during the Exclusion period had “greater human capital than those of unrestricted immigrants, despite restricted immigrants having lower skill” which “suggests particularly strong intergenerational transmission of skill among Chinese immigrants of the exclusion era” (Chen, 2015). It is a truism that the Chinese of this time period were not selected in the nature that Asian immigrants are today, but discrimination did lead to their assimilation (Chen and Xie, 2020). Indeed, second-generation Chinese Americans attending American schools had good schooling (Djang, 1935: 101). And for Japanese Americans, Hirschman and Wong (1986: 9) point out:

Another important feature of Asian immigration was the educational selectivity of different streams of immigrants. While the educational composition of recent Asian immigrants has been extraordinary (Chen 1977; North 1974; Pernia 1976), this was not always the case. Most of the early Asian immigrants to the United States, like their counterparts from Europe, arrived with only minimal educational qualifications. The important exception was early Japanese immigrants. Data from the 1960 Census show that Japanese immigrants, above age 65 in 1960, had a median eight years of schooling-comparable to the figure for the white population of the same age (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1963a, 1963c). This finding is corroborated by earlier studies which report a very selective pattern of Japanese immigration to the United States, particularly to the mainland (Ichihashi 1932; Kitano 1976; Petersen 1971; Strong [1934] 1970).

(2) The home environment before first-grade does have a large effect on outcomes (e.g., Brooks-Gunn et al, 1996). Of course exposure to different kinds of things in the household would explain certain outcomes later in life, such as test scores.

In the book Temperament and Race, Porteus and Babcock (1926: 119-120) discussed the racial rankings of grades by one researcher, with the following chart, showing similar findings to Coleman:

They also discussed the Thorndike Examination of High School Graduates in Hawaii from 1922-1923, that the Chinese and Japanese scored below whites but this could be seen as them not having full English proficiency. Chun (1940: 35) showed that “Anglo Saxons” has Binet IQs of 100, and IQs of 87 and 85 for the Chinese and Japanese respectively, and this is similar to what Porteus and Babcock (1926) showed for Chinese and Japanese too. This also could be due to low English proficiency. Chun (1940) also shows that there were a large amount of schools for the Chinese as well. Coupled with the fact that immigrants aren’t a random sample of the population from which they derive, selection therefore explains these values. It’s quite clear that the Chinese had good education since the 1880s with the introduction of Chinese schools on the mainland and in Hawaii, and along with the fact that Japanese immigrants had education on par with whites at the time, of course the selectivity of the population along with the education they got clearly mattered.

When it comes to Asian immigration post-1965, “The new preference system allowed highly skilled professionals, primarily doctors, nurses, and engineers from Asian countries, to immigrate and eventually to sponsor their families” (Hirschman 2015), while the Act resulted in a majority of nurses that came from Asia (Rockett et al, 1989; Masselink and Jones, 2015). Erika Lee notes in The Making of Asian America (2017: 287):

As in the past, Asian immigrants are highly regulated by immigration laws, but the emphasis of U. S. Laws in admitting family-sponsored immigrants and professional, highly skilled individuals has meant that the majority of New arrivals from to join family already here and bring a different set of educational and professional skills than earlier immigrants.”

Hsin and Xie (2014) showed that, rather than “cognitive ability” and sociodemographics, higher academic effort explains the Asian-White achievement gap. They argue that beliefs in academic effort along with immigrant status explains the relationship. Teachers have higher, more positive expectations for Asian students, and that such positive stereotypes will further influence their excelling, which is a pygmalion effect (Hsin and Xie, 2014). And so, the Asian-White achievement gap can be explained by higher academic effort, not IQ or SES, it’s driven by the Asian-White difference in academic effort. I don’t see an issue using teacher ratings, since teacher ratings have shown an even higher correlation between the accuracy of teacher’s assessments and IQ, at .65 as one study notes (Hoge and Coladarci, 1989) while a newer analysis showed a correlation of .80 (Kaufmann, 2019). Lee (2014) described why Asians have higher academic effort in comparison to Americans:

differences in the cultural frame and the resources used to support it help to explain why the children of some Asian immigrant groups get ahead, despite their socioeconomic disadvantage.

However, Hsin and Xie (2014) do note a suite of negative effects:

Studies show that Asian-American youth are less psychologically adjusted (32) and socially engaged (33) in school than their white peers. They may experience more conflict in relationships with parents because of the high educational expectations their parents place on them (32). Asian-American youth are under pressure to meet extraordinarily high standards because they consider other high achieving coethnics, rather than native-born whites, to be their reference group (7).

Even low-SES Asians have a high drive to succeed in academics, having work ethic similar to the white and Asian middle-class, and one attempted explanation is due to Confucian values (Liu, and Xie, 2016). Though Lee and Zhou (2020) have successfully argued against this claim, stating that second generation Chinese in Spain do not have such high educational attainment in Spain (Yiu, 2013), refuting the reduction of educational attainment to Confucian beliefs of Asians, since other Asian immigrants that do not share such Confucian beliefs are also hyper-selected. And while Asian American parents do hold higher educational expectations for their children in comparison to white American parents (Kao, 1995), this too is consistent with the Lee and Zhou account.

In a series of papers, Sakamoto (2017) and Sakamoto and Wang (2020) try to argue against the hyper-selectivity thesis. Sakamoto and Wang, I think, underestimate the importance of hyper-selectivity in explaining Asian educational achievements. They argue that cultural factors explain Asian American success, while Zhou and Lee (2017) argue that it’s due to selective migration patters that favor highly-able immigrants. Sakamoto and Wang claim that cultural factors explain the most about Asian achievement, but Zhou and Lee state that cultural factors alone cannot account for their achievement—cultural factors like Confucianism. While individual effort does play a role, as Hsin and Xie (2014) argue, of course cultural and structural factors also play a role, the argument given by Sakamoto and Wang can be refuted by the following argument:

(1) If selective migration is a significant factor in explaining the success of Asian Americans, then class background can’t be the sole explanation of their success. (2) Selective migration is a significant factor that explains the success of Asian Americans. (3) But Sakamoto and Wang claim that class background is basically the only reason for higher Asian American achievement. Since (3) contradicts (2) and (2) is true, then we can reject (3). Thus, the argument in Sakamoto and Wang does not refute the argument in Zhou and Lee.

Further, not all Asian immigrants enjoy the same level of success, since other Asian immigrants (like South Asians) are less likely to have selective migratory patterns than East Asians. Therefore, this shows that selective migration, and not culture, is paramount in explaining Asian American academic achievement. Hyper-selectivity on its own does not set the stage for Asian American achievement, but it does set the stage for the remaking of cultural practices which then forster educational success. Culture does matter, but not in the way that most conceptualize it. Sakamoto and Wang do not refute Zhou and Lee, since Zhou and Lee (2017: 8) provide evidence that “culture has structural roots and that cultural patterns emerge from structural circumstances of contemporary immigration.”

Hereditarian explanations of Asian educational achievement

For decades, hereditarians have argued that Asian educational achievements in contrast to whites’ are due to their “cognitive ability” (“IQ”), which is genetically mediated, on the basis of heritability estimates. For instance, hereditarians use data from transracial adoptees to try to argue that genetic differences cause differences in IQ between Asians and whites and then whites and blacks. However, this can be explained by adoptions’ beneficial effects for IQ and the Flynn effect (Thomas, 2017).

Hereditarians claim that since they argue for East Asian superiority, that they therefore are not racists. Sautman (1994: 80) noted how since hereditarians claim that they since they speak of East Asians being superior to whites, they therefore show a lack of bias in their assessment of racial differences:

In clustering East Asians and whites as genetically-favored and Africans, Southeast Asians and others as disfavored, Western race theorists use East Asians as a “racial wedge” against other non-whites. They argue that highlighting East Asian, not white, superiority shows an absence of bias. Thus, a criminologist who legs putatively higher crime rates of US blacks to r-strategy reproduction, underscores that he is “not a member of the least criminal racial group” (i.e. East Asians). A professor of management writes that whites will feel more comfortable in recognizing black inferiority if they know that East Asians outscore whites on IQ tests. a British journalist has queried “If they [East Asians] can be cleverer than we are, why can’t we be cleverer than some other group?”

This is just as Hilliard (2012: 86) remarks:

[Herrnstein, Murray and Rushton] used this representation of whites as more cognitively advanced than blacks but less than Asians to silence those critics who insisted that the race researchers’ findings were ethnically self-serving. Rushton thus posed the question, “If my work was motivated by racism, why would I want Asians to have bigger brains than whites?” … it became useful to tout the Asians’ cognitive superiority but only so long as whites remained above blacks in the cognitive hierarchy.

The phrase “Mongoloid idiot” was coined, due to supposed similarities between Asians and people with Down syndrome. Along with being a sexual danger to white women, this then corresponded with how they were perceived—race scientists concluded that they had smaller brains than whites. This is noted in Lieberman’s (2001) Table 1 on the ever-changing skull size differences between the races.

The hierarchy changed right as East Asia began to modernize and have an economic boom (Lieberman, 2001). So we go from racism against East Asians, naming syndromes after them, saying they have small brains and large penises, to model minorities, high IQ, larger brains, lower sexual drive and booming economies. This speaks to the contextual-dependence of such claims, and that attitudes toward certain groups do indeed change over time.

To attempt to explain IQ and other differences between races, Lynn proposed that the harshness of cold winters shaped the cognitive skills of Europeans and East Asians over millenia, and that this explains why Asians score higher than whites and whites over blacks (Lynn, 1991, 2006a: 135-136, 2019; Rushton, 1997: 228-230, 2012). Many issues with these just-so stories and evolutionary theories (r/K theory) have been levied, showing that they merely “explain” observations, with no novel predictions, nevermind the anthropological misunderstandings from Lynn, Rushton, Jensen, and Kanazawa. Lynn (1991) attempted to show that children from Hong Kong showed higher reaction times and had higher IQs than British children, which he interpreted as having a neurological basis. Though, due to omissions and misinterpretations of data, we cannot accept Lynn’s conclusions (Thomas, 2011).

Lynn (2006b) repeats the same claims he has since he started to collate studies on national “IQs” (see Richardson, 2004). Beginning in 2002, Lynn and Vanhanen attempted to collate a mass of IQ studies around the world and then show the “intelligence of nations” (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2002; Lynn and Becker, 2019). Though, ignoring the fact that Lynn cherry-picked Chinese IQ studies that fit his a priori beliefs, “‘National IQ’ datasets do not provide accurate, unbiased or comparable measures of cognitive ability worldwide” (Sear, 2022; also see Moreale and Levendis, 2012; Ebbeson, 2020).

On that same note, the Chinese are notorious for cheating on standardized tests, they are cheating on the SAT, GRE, and other examinations, and they pay up to $6000 to have people take tests for them. There was, also, a large UCLA cheating ring which was recently busted. There is also the fact that the OECD allows China to administer the PISA in select regions, so the claim cannot be made that PISA results are representative of China. There is also the fact that the Chinese have what is called a “hukuo system” which is a tool for controlling migration from rural to urban areas. And so, even though some children may for example attend school in Shanghai, when it comes to for hukuo, they must return to their province of origin. It’s clear that the Chinese game standardized tests. They are cheating the PISA system by being selective on the students they administer the test to in Shanghai by doing hukuo.

Lynn (2010) argued that it was unnecessary to contribute the success of East Asians to Confucian values (this is true), and that IQ explains East Asian success in math and science. Though, what does explain their success is their selectivity, not their IQ. Lynn (2006a: 89) claimed that “The Chinese and Japanese who emigrated to the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century were largely peasants who came to do unskilled work on the construction of the railways and other building work.” While this is true to a point, it’s irrelevant and skirts around the fact that, as Hirschman and Wong noted, Japanese immigrants had educational parity with whites before the 1960s and the fact that Chinese laborers were indeed selected and this also affected their children in a positive manner.

In a now-retracted paper, Rushton (1992) opined that one “theoretical possibility” to explain why Asians have more “K” traits compared to “r” traits (see Anderson, 1991 for critique), is that evolution is progressive and that Asians are “more “advanced”” than are other groups. But the fact of the matter is, evolution isn’t progressive. Nevertheless, Rushton (1995) attempted to defend his arguments from Yee (1992) by saying the same old, bringing up Lynn’s study on reaction time and IQ (refuted by Thomas) along with Jensen’s (refuted by Sautman). He brings up the “evidence” from transracial adoption studies (see Thomas, 2017). Rushton then brings up brain size, talking about the larger brains of Asians (see above from Lieberman on how this seems to change with the times). Rushton then discusses “other variables”, like his crime data (refuted by Cernovsky and Littman, 2019), testosterone, and twinning (see Allen et al, 1992). This is all beside the point that Gorey and Cryns (1995) showed that any behavioral differences between Rushton’s three races can be explained by environment while Peregrine, Ember, and Ember (2003) showed no cross-cultural statistical support for Rushton’s theory.

To the hereditarian, Asians are upheld to say that they are not racists, since why would a racist state that Asians are “better” than whites? This, though, gives hereditarians cover. Nevertheless, the arguments used by hereditarians for Asian academic achievement and IQ fail, since they rely on numerous false assumptions and arguments.


Immigration in the past was mixed between positive and negative selection, but today is largely positive (Abramitzky and Boustan, 2017). In recent years, Asian immigrants were more highly selected than non-Asian immigrants (Huang, 2022). Asians have been the largest percentage of immigrants since 2009 (National Academy of Science, 2018). Lynn (2006a: 97) claims that “environmentalists do not offer any explanation for the consistently high IQ of East Asians, and it is doubtful whether any credible environmental explanation can be found.” But this claim fails since hyper-selectivity explains Asian educational achievements over whites.

The study of race differences, then, is completely political (Jackson, 2006). Since science is a social activity, then one’s political leanings and values would influence the science they seek out to do (Barnes, Zieff, and Anderson, 1999). This is wonderfully illustrated by the claims of hereditarians about Asians who are just using them as a cover to peddle racist inferiority tropes about blacks.

I have described how Asians have come in waves to America over the past 150 years. I have also shown how most immigrants today, and specifically Asians, are positively selected. I have further described a process of selection in certain Asians during the early 1900s. The hyper-selectivity thesis explains Asian American achievement, due to what hyper-selectivity is and the processes that they go through. I then explained how hereditarians attempt to use Asians as a cover for their racism, but their arguments are invalid and rely on numerous false assumptions. Having said all of that, here are the arguments:

The hyper-selectivity thesis does not ignore challenges faced by working class and lower-income Asians, it merely highlights unique characters of the Asian American experience which allow them to overcome economic barriers and then achieve high levels of academic and economic success. It also does not ignore the role of racism and discrimination, but it suggests that even in the face of this, they have unique characteristics due to their selectivity that still enable them to highly achieve. And it is supported by a large body of empirical and theoretical evidence which shows the robustness of the phenomenon across different contexts and time periods. Thus, the thesis is of value to understanding the Asian American experience in the United States. Furthermore, we can reject the genetic hypothesis of Lynn, as Sue and Okazaki have successfully argued. Having said all that, I have formalized the arguments made in this article.

P1: If the unique cultural and socioeconomic resources of Asian American immigrants have allowed them to achieve high levels of success, then hyper-selectivity is true.

P2: Empirical evidence shows that Asian immigrants and their children have achieved high levels of success, outperforming other racial and ethnic groups in the US in education and income.

C: Thus, the hyper-selectivity thesis is true.

P1: If Asian American immigrants possess unique cultural and socioeconomic resources which allow them to receive high levels of success, then hyper-selectivity is true.

P2: If Asian American immigrants have achieved high levels of success in the US, then they possess unique cultural and socioeconomic resources.

C: Thus, if Asian American immigrants have high levels of success in the US, then hyper-selectivity is true.

Now let me connect these two arguments:

P1: If hyper-selectivity is true, then the academic achievements of Asian Americans is not due solely to socioeconomic Status.

P2: If the academic achievements of Asian Americans isn’t solely due to socioeconomic status, then the achievement gap between groups cannot be fully explained by socioeconomic status (but it can be explained by effort, not cognitive ability).

P3: Hyper-selectivity is true (see arguments above).

C: Thus the achievement gap between Asians and other races cannot be fully explained by socioeconomic status (1, 2, and 3)

P4: (Using addition) Overwhelming evidence shows that Asian Americans outperform other races in America, regardless of socioeconomic status.

C2: So hyper-selectivity remains the best explanation of Asian American academic success, despite critics who state it’s solely due to socioeconomic status (2, 3, and 4 using addition).



  1. ian smith says:

    how do the dutch chinese perform? they and indians do very well in britain. but pakistanis and bagladeshis don’t do especially well. or that’s the way it used to be. and i thought south asians in the US were more selected than ne asians. in terms of their prominence they certainly outperform ne asians.

    …the incredible scores…

    what incredible scores? the PISA for japan and s korea in 2018 were lower than for american whites. hard to believe considering how shitty american schools are.

    …“environmentalists do not offer any explanation for the consistently high IQ of East Asians, and it is doubtful whether any credible environmental explanation can be found.” But this claim fails since hyper-selectivity explains Asian educational achievements over whites…

    let us not confuse test scores with educational achievement.

    Asian Americans: Achievement Beyond IQ i don’t know how old his data was, but flynn found: Chinese Americans’ occupational achievements are generally far beyond their IQ — as if they had a mean IQ 21 points higher than they actually do.


  2. cabbage head says:

    would be interesting to nail down this “bigger brains” claim once and for all. not because it matters. but just to prove the hereditists are wrong.

    for one thing a larger head is a direct result of colder temperatures. allen’s rule. and bergmann’s rule. it should be seen in animals too.


  3. chinese spy balloon says:

    i don’t know if you saw this but here:


  4. chinese spy balloon says:

    that is this: In this post I discuss some overlooked data which suggest that Bermudian blacks have an IQ that is very close to 100, and that there is no IQ gap between black and white Bermudians.


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