The differences between the Chinese and the Indians are going to determine much of what the world of the 21st Century will be like, but we aren't supposed to talk about human differences, so this vast topic is seldom addressed fully. A reader writes:
I have been involved with Indian engineers for several decades. I was until my recentl retirement an executive in a software firm with an Indian outsourcing division and have spent time in India. I’ve always been impressed by their talent, but can confirm your observation that they tend to come from the upper castes.
Like you I’ve also wondered when the India ‘brain’ supply would run out. While the IQ=81 that you reference seems a bit too low to me, I think it likely that India’s billion is not a match for China’s.
(1) Unlike China, India has spent 50 years struggling with public education for the masses. This is not mere upper-caste disdain. Government school failure in Bombay looks a lot like what we see in our own inner-cities. The upper class and professionals from all castes avoid these schools and send their kids to private schools. (The concept of posh high price suburbs has not yet come to them). Lower IQ’s must play some role in this process even if the real gap is 10-12 points rather than 20.
(2) India lags China very badly in manufacturing. This aggravates (1) since manufacturing throws off tax revenues for schools and can provide decent jobs for people with 8-10 years of mediocre schooling.
IQ plays a bigger role in manufacturing than most people realize. As a consultant and software provider to American manufacturing, I saw the negative consequences in the 1975-1990 period. The hyper-aggressive expansion of U.S. college education siphoned off high IQ individuals from the blue-collar class. Having a few bright people on the shop floor makes a real difference. By 1985 the performance of the Japanese shop floor was well above the U.S.
Our glory days were during WW2 when we built, from scratch, a giant combat aircraft industry in 4 years and the incredible Manhattan project in 2 1/2. China performs such feats today filling the shelves of Wal-Mart
I predict that India’s failure to match China in (1) and (2) will hurt them badly in the next generation.
P.S. Your comment on the Parsees of Bombay is quite accurate. In fact the close parallel with the Ashkenazi of Europe is striking. How does a small isolated group raise (and maintain!!) its IQ high above the surrounding population? If you visit the best colleges in Bombay you will see among the paintings of “our founders” one or more Parsees.
I found the Parsees to be excellent as company and in conversation, full of intelligence and quite dignity. But if you want to spoil the evening bring up the subject of Muslims. The Muslims destroyed Zoroastrian civilization. Parsees discuss Muslims the way Armenians talk about Turks. Enough said.
Another reader writes:
Jeffrey Sachs is a famous economist (noted for his early tenure at Harvard and now leading the fight to poor more aid into Africa). His latest essay ( here) in Scientific American on the viability of social welfare states is a great example of what happens when one ignores human biodiversity.
As someone who thinks higher taxes and more welfare is not a good thing for the US, I'm struck by the straightjacket that the Axiom of Equality puts on the debate. If you assume that people in the Nordic countries have the same distribution of human capital as in the US, he has an argument that's hard to refute--unfortunately, we aren't allowed to assume otherwise in educated discussions.
Similarly, Brad DeLong and Tyler Cowen are mystified by the inability of NAFTA to pull Mexico up to US/Canadian standards (here for DeLong and here for Cowen). They both list many reasons why it didn't work as planned, but no one mentions the elephant in the room because, well, elephants don't exist. This also shows up in discussion of alleviating poverty in Africa, or pulling up reading scores in inner-cities.
The distribution of human capital is not the same between many groupings. Economists and journalists either don't believe it, or know it's political suicide to mention it, making these debates sterile
But you can mention it, and do, which is a public service in the true sense of the phrase. So I Amazoned you $50 today.