Posts Tagged ‘Asian-Americans’

Asian immigrants expected to predominate

October 6, 2015

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Republican presidential candidates are debating how to seal the southern U.S. border against unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries.   This is yesterday’s news.

Pew Research Center reported that immigration from Asia already exceeds immigration from Latin American and is likely to predominate for at least the next generation.  Immigration from Mexico has been declining since 2007.

Currently there are three times as many Hispanics in the United States, including unauthorized immigrants, than there are Asians, and half again as many Hispanics as blacks.  But in 50 years, if present trends continue, the number of Asians will exceed the number of blacks, and Asians will be the largest category among the foreign-born population.

The USA, more than most countries, is a nation of immigrants.  Pew noted that United States has more Mexican immigrants (12 million) than any other nation has total immigrants.

Immigration to the United States has come in three waves.  In the first wave, from 1840 to 1889, nearly nine-tenths of immigrants were from Germany, Ireland, Britain or other northern and western European countries.  In the second wave, from 1890 to 1919, nearly two-thirds were from Italy, Austria-Hungary, Poland, Russian or other southern and eastern European nations.

In the third wave, from 1965 to 2015, slightly more than half are from Latin America, and immigration from Asia equals immigration from Europe.  Pew projects a fourth wave, predominantly from Asia, based on recent trends.

Native-born Americans have always worried about how many immigrants the United States can absorb.  Angl0-Saxon Americans worried about whether they could assimilate the Irish and Germans.  Protestant Americans worried about whether they could assimilate Catholics and Jews.

Now we worry about whether we can assimilate Hispanics and Asians, and still maintain the continuity of our culture, heritage and economy.

I share these worries, but the decision has already been made that the United States is a multi-cultural nation.  Even if we wished, we could not become like Japan or Quebec, where almost everyone is of the same ancestry and cultural heritage.   Even before the age of immigration, the USA comprised African-Americans and native Americans and we could not pretend to be a merely a branch of the British nation.

Historically, immigrants have strengthened the United States.  They have mostly been hard-working people who have come to the United States in search of opportunity, and many have been liberty-loving people who have come here in search of freedom.

If this ever ceases being true, I don’t think it will be because of immigrants.  IT will be because the USA as a whole no longer offers opportunity and has lost confidence in freedom.

The American motto is “E Pluribus Unum” – “out of many, one.”  Either we make that a reality, or we cease to be a nation, and the territory between Canada and Mexico is nothing but a labor force and a consumer market.

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The passing scene – October 5, 2015

October 5, 2015

Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism, an interview of Michael Hudson, author of Kllling the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy, on Counterpunch Radio.  Highly recommended.

More Leisure, Less Capitalism, Thanks to Tech, an interview of Jacobin contributing editor Peter Frase for Truthout.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

The 2016 Stump Speeches: Bernie’s Epistle to the Falwellites by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

How Steve Jobs Fleeced Carly Fiorina by Steven Levy for BackChannel.  (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack)

The model minority is losing patience by The Economist.  (Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist)

The Second Amendment Is a Gun Control Amendment by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker.  (Hat tip to Bill Elwell)

Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends a special place in Japan’s soul by Michael Holtz for The Christian Science Monitor.  (Hat tip to Jack)

AP Investigation: Are slaves catching the fish you buy? by Robin M. McDowell, Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Asian-Americans, Jews and Ivy League admissions

December 10, 2012

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Degrees from the Ivy League colleges — Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and their peers — are passports to elite positions on Wall Street and in Washington.  This month’s issue of The American Conservative carries an important article by its publisher, Ronald K. Unz,  making the case that the Ivy League admissions process is corrupt and arbitrary, and that their student bodies are neither the best and the brightest, nor representative of the nation as a whole.

december-2012Unz, himself a Harvard graduate, said the admissions process at Ivy League universities is a subjective process, based largely on interviews supposedly to determine whether the applicant is a well-rounded person.  This system came into existence as a covert means to cap the numbers of Jewish students without setting explicit quotas, he wrote; now it is used to cap the numbers of Asian-Americans.

A century ago, students of the Ivy League were predominantly the sons and the white Protestant upper class, who attended as much for social life and sports as for academics.  Unz said applicants from such backgrounds, the children of distinguished alumni or large contributors to the college endowment funds, still get in as a matter of course.   Some provision is made to help black and Hispanic students.  The losers are Asian-Americans and non-Jewish working-class whites.

I am uncomfortable with sweeping generalizations about broad racial, religious and ethnic categories.  Each consists of sub-groups which differ from each other, and each group and sub-group consists of unique individuals with a wider range of traits than the averages of the different groups.  You can’t tell anything about an individual’s intellectual attainments, or anything else, based on their demographic characteristics.  But unfortunately, race, religion and ethnicity matter in American life and simplifications and generalizations are necessary for understanding.

The following tables show the relative rise of Asian-American students and the relative decline of Jewish students in high school math and science competitions.

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f3-largeThe charts above indicate that Asian-Americans don’t get a fair shake, based on their intellectual attainments.  They indicate, more surprisingly, that average Jewish intellectual attainment has crashed.   The percentage of Jewish high school students who win science competitions has declined dramatically in the past couple of decades, but not the high percentage of Jewish admissions to Ivy League universities—in sharp contrast to admissions to California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where enrollment seems to be based more on intellectual merit or at least on test scores.   Asian-Americans stand in the same position in American academic life that the children of Jewish immigrants stood 75 years ago.

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The implication of the data is that the reason for large numbers of Jewish students currently at Ivy League colleges is not that so many of them are hard-working, intellectual super-achievers as in previous generations, but that so many of their parents are members of the upper classes.

asians-largeThe Asian-American population is increasing, but their enrollment in elite colleges—except for Caltech—is not.  The most obvious explanation is that there are quotas—explicit or informal—that are holding them back.

I’m uncomfortable with Unz’s article and the information in these charts, especially the implications concerning Jewish enrollment in Ivy League universities versus white Christian working-class people—implications which will be welcomed by racists and anti-Semites.  But facts and logic are the best guide to truth, not my comfort level.

Ron Unz

Ron Unz

One criticism of Unz’s article is that he counts people in different ethnic groups based on their last names.  This may not be valid, especially when so many Americans are of mixed heritage.   My name is Phil Ebersole.   During my lifetime, many people have made wrong assumptions about my race, religion and ethnicity, based on my name and appearance.

Another criticism is that Unz’s claim of declining Jewish intellectual attainment is based on declining high school science prizes, and this doesn’t take into account attainments in literature, philosophy and scholarship.  Maybe Jewish intellectual interests have shifted from the sciences to the humanities.  Maybe smart Jewish students all flock to Harvard, Yale and Princeton and smart Asian-American students flock to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Caltech.

I think both these criticisms have merit, but do not invalidate Unz’s conclusions.  I’ll be interested to see more commentary on his article.  I’m surprised there has been so little criticism so far.   I will have more to say in my next post.

Double click on the charts to enlarge them.

Click on The Myth of American Meritocracy  for Ron Unz’s full article.   All the charts above are from this article.

Click on Paying Tuition to a Gigantic Hedge Fund for a sidebar by Ron Unz claiming that Harvard University is more of an investment fund than an educational institution.

Click on Quantitative Sources and Methods for Ron Unz’s documentation of his claims.

For rebuttal, click on Meritocracy, Jews and the Liberal Arts by Samuel Goldman.

For more comment, click on The Myth of Affirmative Action by Dan McCarthy.

Click on Harvard as Hedge Fund: Harvard’s Reply for Harvard’s rebuttal and Ron Unz’s additional comment.

For more rebuttal, click on The claim that Harvard admissions discriminate in favor of Jews? I don’t see it by Andrew Gelman.  [Added 2/16/13]

Ron Unz was born in 1961 and grew up in California.  He earned a bachelor of science degree in physics from Harvard and studied advanced physics at Stanford University but didn’t get a doctoral degree.  He started a software company called Wall Street Analytics which was bought by Moody’s Investors Service in 2006.  He was active in California politics, and founded English for the Children, an organization opposed to bilingual education.   He became publisher of The American Conservative in 2007.

Click on This Man Controls California for a 1999 profile of Ron Unz in The New Republic

Click on Ron Unz – Writings and Perspective | Views, Opinions and Notes for his web log.