October 8, 2013

Race in the OECD test of adults

This new OECD test, which is sort of PISA for adults, comes with endless documentation of the results, including reports by country. The U.S. report says:
Black and Hispanic adults are substantially over-represented in the low-skilled adult population. Data on race/ethnicity were collected as part of the US national data collection in the survey (comparable data from other countries are not available). While one in ten (10%) white adults scores below Level 2 in literacy, more than one in three (35%) black adults do so, and nearly one in two (43%) Hispanics do. Similar patterns are observed in numeracy: 59% of black and 56% of Hispanic adults score below Level 2, compared to 19% of white adults.  

You expect poor literacy from immigrant groups, but the poor-to-mediocre numeracy of Hispanics in the U.S. came as something of a surprise to me when I was looking at the data in 1991. Hispanics are not like Asians in being relatively better at math than verbal.
Given that blacks and Hispanics are three to four times more likely to have poor skills than whites, these groups are substantially over-represented in the low-skilled population. Half of those with the lowest level of literacy (below Level 1) are Hispanic, and a further one in five are black. Among those with Level 1 literacy skills, about one in four are black and a little over one in four are Hispanic. Among those scoring at the lowest level of numeracy (below Level 1), 31% are black and 37% are Hispanic, while 22% of adults scoring at Level 1 are black and Hispanic

So, there are three Hispanic innumerates for every two white innumerates ... in absolute terms. Among adults with bad numeracy skills, there are 50% more Hispanics than whites. That's not saying that Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely per capita than whites. Instead, there are 1.5 times as many millions of innumerate Hispanics in the U.S. as innumerate whites in the U.S.

That may explain something about why the subprime bubble was so disproportionately concentrated among Hispanics.

By the way, I have no idea how valid the results for this test are. There seems to be a paradox that we should bear in mind when evaluating test results:

- The more everybody tried their hardest when taking the test, the more likely it is that some people cheated.

- The less anybody cheated, the more likely it is that some people just blew off trying on the test. 

22 comments:

countenance said...

What makes me somewhat suspect is that two different times in your missive, you indicate metrics where Hispanics performed even more poorly than blacks. That's the first time I've ever seen Hispanics < Blacks in any academic or cognitive metric.

Anonymous said...

Has Jason Richwine found a job yet?

cyril said...

Hey, Steve, regarding the PISA test, would European Americans still outscore the top European countries (save Finland) if you excluded all of their nonwhites? Without controlling for that it's not exactly apples to apples.

Anonymous said...

All the amnesty supporters, McCain, Schumer, etc., should be made to read this and explain how their immigration policy is going to make the US more competitive. Of course, it won't be discussed, or the results will be blamed on racism, barriers or other institutionalized discrimination that will require more taxes and more Teach for America types to fix.

Meanwhile the evidence is there for those who want to see of what has happened to our nation. It's a shame that people like Buchanan were sounding the alarm bells on this 20 years ago. Then we could have done something about it. Now nothing will be done because hispanics, at just 15%, are too large to anger.

That's the thing that gets me. I remember back in the late 80s, early 90s, guys telling me I was getting too worked up. They said hispanics were only 5 percent of the population. To them hispanics would not be a threat until they reached 50% which would never happen. Yet the way it worked out, once they reached 10%, nothing could be done to close the border.

So the lesson I learned is that groups seem to achieve power at much lower percentages than one would imagine. Remember that the next time someone tells you that muslims comprising 3 percent of the population is no big deal.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX said...

Anonymous said...
Has Jason Richwine found a job yet?

He's been writing for National Review:

http://www.nationalreview.com/author/jason-richwine

B.B.

Anonymous said...

This shouldn't surprise anyone. Asians are so far ahead in innate math talent that even language issues typical among immigrants don't prevent that superiority from making itself apparent. With Hispanics, they're probably a little worse than whites, but the language problem greatly depresses their scores.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Hispanics in Mexico don't buy things on credit they use cash, so they pick up bad habits here. The Hispanics might not be the best students but some barrio schools are bad. In fact even New York which spends the most on schools much more so than California or Texas still has low scores because the they are not the best students and have crappy schools on top of it. In fact poor students need a better educational program. I watched a video about a high functioning person with Prader Willi. The high functioning prader willi people are good with English and very poor in math since they have low scores on some of the performance parts of the IQ tests but average verbal scores. The mother of the student discuss how they have a IEP plan where things are broken up more for her daughter in math. A lot of public schools don't have the time and money to work with blacks and Hispanics they need about an 8th grade reading and math level to do most of the jobs above sweeping the floor.

Anonymous said...

"Hey, Steve, regarding the PISA test, would European Americans still outscore the top European countries (save Finland) if you excluded all of their nonwhites? Without controlling for that it's not exactly apples to apples."

Yes:

"The mean score of Americans with European ancestry is 524, compared to 506 in Europe, when first and second generation immigrants are excluded."

http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/12/amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa.html

Anonymous said...

Steve, you often mention the possibility of cheating when it comes to PISA, SAT or AP test scores.
I presume you mean Asians.
However, all of these tests are highly correlated with IQ scores. As Asians score highly on all g-loaded tests, regardless of test, regardless of country, your assertion implies cheating on massive scale on all tests that at the same time, somehow has escaped detection. Can you see how implausible this is? How it defies Occam's Razor? Your hypothesis would require much more than the isolated examples you proffer. Do you have any evidence for cheating on a widespread scale. Would you provide a statistical analysis calculating what percentage of Asians would have to cheat in order for Asians to score what they do on every g-loaded test over the last few decades? Despite my math degree from an Ivy League school, I have a limited computer-like mind that conceptualizes wild hypotheses only in terms of Scotsman and True Scotsman. Can you understand why some people balk at taking some of your moments of fancy seriously? Why there exists a difference between correlation as food for thought and correlation as a serious theory? The latter requires actual data and rigor.

Mike Schrader said...

Steve,
You make it clear that you believe Asians are gaming the system. Yet Asians on average score better than Whites on most g-loaded tests including the IQ tests, SATs, AP exams, PISA, IMO results, etc. Since these tests are highly correlated, if Asians are cheating on one or two of these exams, they must be cheating on all of them--not only that, but on a widespread scale that has escaped detection for decades. Do you have an statistical models or analyses that confirm this, beyond some isolated examples? What about Occam's Razor? Can you understand why some people balk at your moments of fancy? Why there exists a difference between noting patterns as food for thought and offering correlations as theory to be taken seriously. The latter requires data and rigor. People who demand rigor for some of your bolder assertions are not computer-like automatons who conceive of the world only in terms of Scotsmen and True Scotsmen.

Big Bill said...

In fact even New York which spends the most on schools much more so than California or Texas ...

In fact, DC spends the most for students. Fully burdened with pensions and school construction and operating costs, DC spent about $29K per year per student three or four years ago ... for similar execrable results.

sunbeam said...

Mike Schrader wrote:

"You make it clear that you believe Asians are gaming the system. Yet Asians on average score better than Whites on most g-loaded tests including the IQ tests, SATs, AP exams, PISA, IMO results, etc. Since these tests are highly correlated, if Asians are cheating on one or two of these exams, they must be cheating on all of them--not only that, but on a widespread scale that has escaped detection for decades."

Yeah, but has anyone ever tried to correlate scores on SAT's, AP exams, and the rest for a particular individual?

I'm not real clear on what PISA and IMO are. But my understanding is that AP exams are kind of pass/fail, ie blowing the doors off doesn't give you any benefit over just passing. Maybe.

The SAT on the other hand...

So what I'm saying is do we have any data like IQ scores for individuals who took the SAT?

If Asians generally score higher on the SAT's than you would expect from the IQ tests then it should be fairly easy to pick out, then someone could draw their own conclusions.

But, I am firmly of the opinion that SAT prep can greatly affect your SAT score. I wouldn't find it surprising at all to find Asians did better on the SAT than IQ tests would predict.

That said, I also think they cheat like crazy when and if they can get away with it. But this is more a feature of actual classes and coursework than national tests like this.

To be blunt it is a more rational strategy than the northwestern europe take on how to do things.

After all the best efforts of all these Puritans have led us to where we are now.

Let's be rational about this. Not only do you have to have outstanding class performance and test scores to get into elite schools (sans Caltech and maybe MIT), but you also have to jump through hoops to get an admissions officer to think you are cool and enlightened enough to attend.

Screw that. My advice to a kid trying to get into Harvard is to cheat your ass off, but don't get caught.

Heck you'll fit right into Wall Street when you graduate. Best training you could possibly get.

Probably good for the practice of Law and Politics as well.

Bill said...


Mike Schrader said...

Steve,
You make it clear that you believe Asians are gaming the system. Yet Asians on average score better than Whites on most g-loaded tests including the IQ tests, SATs, AP exams, PISA, IMO results, etc. Since these tests are highly correlated, if Asians are cheating on one or two of these exams, they must be cheating on all of them


Mike, do you get that your conclusions don't follow at all from your hypotheses? It's possible that NE Asians are both slightly smarter than whites and considerably more likely to cheat, isn't it? You might want to inquire whether NE Asians score more or less than 1/3 of a standard deviation better than whites on the tests they are accused of cheating on, no?

That people from mainland China cheat like crazy on tests is just a fact. You would know this if, say, you had the experience of meeting Chinese graduate students who "scored" in the 90+th percentile on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) but don't speak or understand a word of English. Students "scoring" at the 90+th percentile on the GRE who are dumb as a box of rocks. Neither of these are rare. Etc.

NOTA said...

Higher intelligence, better work ethic, and placing more importance on tests and school go along with:

a. Scoring better on a fair test with no preparation

b. Trying hard on the test; giving it your best effort, even to trying to solve the questions that are unfamiliar or right at the edge of your ability

c. Prepping for a test in a way that gives an advantage but isn't cheating

d. Cheating on the test

That makes it quite hard to untangle those things. Similarly, I suspect some part of the correlation between success on the SAT and in college grades has to do with the willingness and ability to cheat on both. Hopefully that isn't a huge component of the relationshio between them, but it's probably not negligible either.

Discard said...

Mike Schrader: I'm no mathemetician, but isn't it possible for smart people to cheat, and thereby increase their share of good things beyond what their IQs would lead us to expect?

Robert said...

Reminds me of the old P.J.O'Rourke essay "A Long, Hard, Thoughtful Look Back At The Last 15 Minutes", which contains such great lines as "Blacks have made very little economic progress since 8:45 this morning."

Anonymous said...

Bill said..."people from mainland China cheat like crazy on tests is just a fact"

I think Ed. Realist comment was about 1st gen immigrants here in the US. Anyway as a 1st gen immigrant I have to say I cheated my way to the top! (--evil giggle--) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j26sGqMxkc

Yes, as the only Asian kid in my HS during the seventies I copied off myself. I was an Asian "grind" who did nothing but study and memorize by rote. Somehow I managed to letter on 2 sports (yes by cheating) and work construction jobs (as a coolie). Now as a middle age grind with no imagination somehow I solve problems as an international consultant, yes by copying and memorizing the white man's work!

Discard said.....I'm no mathemetician, but isn't it possible for smart people to cheat, and thereby increase their share of good things beyond what their IQs would lead us to expect?

“mathemetician” perhaps Asian style rote memorization needed here preese. Let’s see there must be a grand conspiracy amongst the golden horde. Maybe it would like this only for Asians http://www.snotr.com/video/422/Eddie_Murphy_goes_undercover

For the record, I like white people. I must, I married to one.

Josh Yellowfever said...

Steve, those students work hard to prepare the test are not the cheaters. Most of those get caught in cheating are actually withe guys from affluent schools, such as Great Neck high school in Long Island..., well, may be the teachers who have a big stake in students's performance, or Harvard students.

Unless students who get advised, coached and guided are called cheats, cheating among students in big tests is quite rare.

Anonymous said...

I think I robot and Rosie the robot are going to happen faster than we think. We will be stuck with millions of unemployable Mexicans. Conservatives don't like welfare but in our foreign aid to Mexico we could pay for Mexicans to not stay here and return to their rural areas but lots of conservatives don't like rewarding law breakers. In fact as Doug North of the Center for Immirgation studies pointed out its cheaper for immirgants to use soceity security in their home countries than the US.

Mike Schrader said...

Here is a very simple method to test Steve's hypothesis that Asians cheat on a wide scale on the SATs. It has been known (and demonstrated) for a long time that SATs are the single best predictor of college grades. If as many Asians cheat as Steve claims, then the SATs should have less predictive power for Asians than it does for Whites. For example, based on tertiary educational performance for inner city kids, there is abundant evidence that inner city schools are rewarding a large number of undeserved H.S. degrees to kids who are barely literate.
Yet unlike that case, there are no studies demonstrating an analogous pattern for Asians. In fact, Asians are disproportionately represented in the most difficult majors, namely STEM.
I'm sorry. I simply cannot accept as fact the idea that because you or I know a mediocre, unimaginative, ambitious Asian who worked his ass off to get decent grades that he therefore must be representative of most Asians without more substantive proof. Imagine if some Japanese came to the same conclusion based on his isolated experiences with a few Whites. I do believe due to their culture, NE Asians are more prone to cheat on educational exams, but once again, where is the evidence that this occurs on the scale Steve or others suggest?

Anonymous said...

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-ap-classes-20131007,0,3881500,full.story

"But supporters see equal access as an educational right."

Translated into honest English: "Too Many Asians."

If top students were more diverse and representative of California demographics, this would not be an issue.

After all, no one is saying that sports teams should be open to all by lottery on an 'equal' basis.

It's interesting how a lot of Asians seem almost apologetic for their good grades. Jews have chutzpah over their accomplishments, and blacks take great pride in their sports dominance.

But Asians fear standing out at being good at something. Cultural or natural personality trait?

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/10/15/europe-is-burning-slowly-2/

Europeans like Obama and hate American conservatives(the Tea Party).

Tea Party is prolly seen as too pro-rich as global capitalism is owned by Soroses and Zuckerbergs of the world.

Rightist socialism may be the only option for the right.