December 19, 2013

Black immigrants

Via Marginal Revolution, here's a paper by Alison Rauh:
Convergence Between Black Immigrants and Black Natives Across and Within Generations

Traditionally, black immigrants to North America were bright African college students like Barack Obama Sr. or middle class mulatto West Indians like Malcolm Gladwell's mom.

(Another issue is regression toward the means among immigrants. The first immigrants from Africa in the 1960s and 1970s tended to be bright students like Barack Obama Sr., but they tended to pave the way for more mediocre family members like the President's Uncle Omar and Aunt Zeituni.)

How to raise their children is a source of debate among black immigrant parents. The American entertainment industry has profitably promoted the most dysfunctional traits of African American men as the essence of Keeping It Real.

Attorney General Eric Holder's Barbadian parents raised him in a West Indian middle class enclave in New York and tried to minimize his contact with African Americans. Barack Obama was sequestered out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest vibrant black community of any size. 

Seems to have worked pretty good!

One difference between the West Indies and West Africa is that I'm not aware of much caste-like behavior in West Africa, while it's blatant in the West Indies:

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an interesting chapter in his besteller “Outliers” about how hard his mulatto middle class Jamaican direct ancestors strove to avoid regression to the mean by only marrying fair skinned spouses. Various aunts and great-aunts couldn’t resist sexy black men and their descendants fell out of the middle class, while Malcolm’s mom married a white mathematician, and now Malcolm’s a famous author.

(Of course, reading Malcolm’s explanation of his ancestors’ successful mating strategy for producing a Malcolm Gladwell is like reading the Declaration of Independence translated into Newspeak: uh, crimethink! I mean, racism!)

In contrast, in West Africa polygamy tends to break down caste formation. For example, I had a good friend from Cameroon when I was at UCLA. He came from a very well-educated family -- eight of the nine children had advanced degrees from Western universities, and two of his brothers were in Cameroon's cabinet. But, he planned upon a life of gerontocratic polygamy, adding each decade another wife up to a limit of four concurrent wives. That kind of quantity of wives makes it hard to emphasize quality in choosing them, and makes it hard to invest heavily in each child.

Here's Rauh's conclusion:
8 Conclusion 
This paper adds to the existing literature on three dimensions. First, it lays out the fact that black immigrants have become a large part of the black population in the last decades. Second, it demonstrates that the characteristics of immigrant blacks are very different from those of native blacks. Third, it determines how much immigrants blacks converge to native blacks across and within a generation. To put these patterns into perspective, they are compared to those of other races/ethnicities. The share of black immigrants among the black population in the US has increased from 1% in the 1970s to 11% in 2011. Black immigrant males’ earnings and wages are higher than those of native blacks but the premium is small once we condition on being employed. Employment, education, incarceration, and marriage outcomes confirm that we are dealing with two completely different subsets of the population. Black immigrants are much more likely than native blacks to be employed, married, highly educated and not incarcerated. 
In summary, first generation black immigrants undoubtedly have better labor market outcomes than black natives. They directly pass on some characteristics such as high human capital investments to the next generation. The transmission of labor force attachment seems to be weaker, suggesting that the second generation is converging to natives. Black immigrants do not only converge to black natives across generations but also within a generation. For Asians and Hispanics, earnings premia decrease monotonically with age of immigration. For blacks, the earnings-age of immigration profile is upward sloping for those immigrating before the age of 15. Convergence across generations is mostly driven by low-educated second generation blacks that drop out of the labor force in greater numbers than low-educated first generation immigrants do. Similarly, convergence within a generation is driven by the fact that black first generation immigrants who arrive at an early age have a weaker labor force attachment than immigrants who arrive in the US when they are older. A social interactions model with an assimilation parameter that varies by age of immigration helps explain this phenomenon for men. When making their labor force participation decision, male immigrants generally place more weight on the characteristics of natives the earlier they immigrate.

Basically, the second generation of black immigrants do okay unless they don’t get much education (i.e., aren’t very bright). Then the males are in danger of not participating in the (legitimate) work force, just like African American males.

I may be interpreting this wrongly, but it appears that black males who were born abroad do worse the younger their parents brought them here. For example, if you arrive at 17, you aren’t that likely to join the Bloods or Crips to deal crack. It just seems stupid.

But if you arrive at age 2 and you grew up your whole life hearing from the other boys at school about the Bloods or Crips, well, if you want to prove your manhood, you join their local gang affiliate at age 13.

But maybe I’ve got this backwards.

Dr. Rauh seems to blame the age effect on accent, with white people positively discriminating in favor of foreign black accents. Could be.

But of course the stereotype that a black with a prissy-sounding Anglo-Nigerian accent is probably a grad student type who won’t mug you is, according to all the evidence Dr. Rauh assembles, a pretty accurate one. Whereas a jet black youth who tries to have an accent like some gangsta from Compton probably isn’t a grad student type. If he sounds like a gangsta during a job interview, maybe that’s what he wants to be.

Lots of other good stuff in this paper by Dr. Rauh.

36 comments:

Art Deco said...

It is not hard to dream up a program that might contain and ameliorate the social pathology of the slums, which one might surmise is the source of downward assimilation. The thing is, our political life is infected with a powerful inertia and there are vested interests at stake. Most places (certainly where I grew up), suburban politicians, black politicians, the educational apparat, and the lawfare entrepreneurs would act to frustrate any efforts.

So so said...

"Dr. Rauh seems to blame the age effect on accent, with white people positively discriminating in favor of foreign black accents. Could be."

Sounds like he's pulling the usual Occam's butterknife nonsense, trying to find some way to pin it on white men.

To paraphrase the Derb, to liberals, a leaf doesn't fall in the forest that the white man didn't will it.

Anonymous said...

The New York-born children of Caribbean parents always speak with a US black accent, but they still behave better, on average, than the children of traditional US blacks. This continues into adulthood. The main difference is in attitude. They're quieter, more modest, less impulsive.

An ethnic group can outperform traditional US blacks by a lot and still be behind almost every other group present, which is basically the Caribbeans' situation. I don't see them starting many legitimate businesses or doing anything cerebral. I don't even remember ever seeing a Caribbean MD. But they're significantly more likely than US blacks to hold down steady jobs and to perform low- and mid-level office jobs adequately.

In my mind this does not challenge the HBD view of the world. Neither Steve nor any other serious proponent of HBD has ever claimed that biology is everything. Learned culture has a role and traditional US blacks have a rotten one.

JayMan said...

"Malcolm Gladwell wrote an interesting chapter in his besteller 'Outliers' about how hard his mulatto middle class Jamaican direct ancestors strove to avoid regression to the mean by only marrying fair skinned spouses. Various aunts and great-aunts couldn’t resist sexy black men and their descendants fell out of the middle class, while Malcolm’s mom married a white mathematician, and now Malcolm’s a famous author."

Well... :p

Anonymous said...

The president is depressed.

http://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/obama-everybody-hates-me#.Uq0GlLgzv1M.facebook

JayMan said...

@Anonymous 12/19/13, 5:54 PM:

Judith Harris's The Nurture Assumption would serve you well. A solid peer effect appears to be language; kids acquire the language of their peers. This is unaccented if before a certain age and accented afterwards.

Where Harris builds a bridge too far is that she tries to explain the difference between immigrant Blacks and American Blacks as resulting from peer culture; instead of, more obviously the difference in average IQ between immigrant Blacks and American ones.

"I don't see them starting many legitimate businesses or doing anything cerebral. I don't even remember ever seeing a Caribbean MD."

Umm, hello?

"In my mind this does not challenge the HBD view of the world. Neither Steve nor any other serious proponent of HBD has ever claimed that biology is everything. Learned culture has a role and traditional US blacks have a rotten one."

Yes, but I wouldn't ascribe the convergence between immigrant Blacks and Black Americans to that yet. More likely is regression to the mean, both with chain migration and regression in subsequent generations.

Anonymous said...

Susan Rice married a white guy and you can't really tell her children are biracial... they look like they're from the Caucasus region.

http://www.udaipurtimes.com/rice-and-family-adore-the-city-palace/

Here's an interesting backgrounder on Rice... a subtle point here is that it's much easier to be an anti-racist when you can be a credentialist... anti-racist credentialism in practice works as a form of class warfare the elite use against the white middle class. Non-politically connected white communities are much more likely to have their communities destroyed.

http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2012/12/03/please-not-susan-rice-for-secretary-of-state/

Dave Pinsen said...

I saw a Haitian MD working in the ICU at Sloan Kettering several years ago.

ironrailsironweights said...

Susan Rice married a white guy and you can't really tell her children are biracial... they look like they're from the Caucasus region.

Hardly surprising. Rice herself is obviously mixed, I would say she's almost certainly less than half black, maybe as little as one-quarter.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Her research rings true for the most part. As the child of Ghanaian immigrants I can offer a little insight. It depends on where the kids are raised. My folks came in the 70s so there were few African kids to socialize with at school. You either went with the Blacks or Whites (I grew up in Northern Virginia).

The kids that hung out with the Black Americans didn't do so well but they rarely devolved to the point where they would go to prison. Most would straighten out by 18-20. Those that hung out more with the White kids went on to college and beyond.


Anonymous said...

So basically, a permanent black upper class can be formed just through intermarriage and sticking to government and education? No technology or business tycoons? Sounds fishy, if fishes sounded like affirmative action.

Take notes JayMan

Anonymous said...

My daughter had a math teacher who was West African and while he clearly had deep disdain for US black culture, he very much identified with them in a victimization sense, that is, he felt he was as prone to racism as native US blacks. This always surprised me as his demeanor was clearly so different from blacks born here yet the bottom line for him, I guess, was skin color. As far as the age of immigration making a difference, it probably has a lot to do with wanting to fit in, so the kids take on the trappings of gangbanger culture until it becomes entrenched. However in all the majority black schools we've dealt with, the top performing black students were invariably African or Haitian, even when they were a smaller percentage of the classroom population overall. They also invariably had fewer behavioral issues.

9952582 439 said...

Can somebody tell me whether Holder is even considered black in Barbados?

I know that Barbados has a comparatively large white population. The "Redlegs" are descendents of white indentured servants. I saw a doco about them. The poor ones were really depressing. Some became rich. It was a very strange documentary. White Bajans speaking w/Bajan accents. They looked as if the sun had beaten them senseless. Or maybe just low IQ?

Anyway, is there a middle mixed race caste in Barbados?

jgress said...

My housemate is one of those grad students, though he's from Ghana. He's studying Earth Science and his native language is Twi. In my department (Linguistics), we have one part-time faculty member from Senegal (language Eegimaa), and a tenured professor from Nigeria (Yoruba).

Was that Cameronian comrade of yours a Bamileke by any chance? HBD chick posted about them about a month ago; they seem to be the local market-dominant minority.

5371 said...

West African immigrants to the US, like Indian, tend to come from the top slice of society.

Silver said...

This always surprised me as his demeanor was clearly so different from blacks born here yet the bottom line for him, I guess, was skin color.

This "surprised" you, lol. I guess you're a white liberal then. (Come on, who the hell else bothers with "skin color" when what he means is race - my group, and theirs.) The most basic of racial realities are forever "surprising" white liberals, who are unquestionably the greatest suckers to have ever walked the earth.

Average Joe said...

I wonder if Obama lies awake at night worrying about the type of black men that his daughters will end up marrying?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Obama lies awake at night worrying about the type of black men that his daughters will end up marrying?

brown paper bag test

Anonymous said...

Negression to the mean.

Dave Pinsen said...

The more immigrants you get from a country, the more chance you start getting non-elite types, as Joel Stein pointed out re: India.

Anonymous said...

The question that must be asked is this:

As the USA has had such a long, (400 years), tragic and terrible relationship with west African blacks and white Americans have had, literally, centuries to gauge the character and behavior of west African blacks - and the inevitable outcomes that guaranteed by west African blacks - naive white Europeans have some sort of excuse, then why the Hell are they so iintent on importing more of the same?
Sorry, but it needs to be asked.

Madness, said Einstein was repaeting the same behavior and expecting a different result.

Anonymous said...

I would bet that Obamas's daughters end up marrying mocha-colored or white dweebish guys. I mean, they were cute little kids, but they aren't going to grow up to be beauties.

Simon in London said...

Re caste and the lack of it in sub-Saharan Africa - yes, I've noticed that at least with female graduate students, typically an African student from a lower-middle class background tends to be just as capable as one from an upper-middle-class background, there is no obvious abilility gradient by caste. Whereas with south-Asian students (from India, Pakistan etc) ability tends to correlate pretty strongly with caste/class.

Something I've noticed is that not only are sub-Saharan African students (especially female students) academically strong, they seem to do better than students of sub-Saharan ancestry raised in the West. Students who come directly from sub-Saharan Africa are comparable to students from north-western Europe, and tend to do better than students from the rest of the world (including eastern Europe, and southern Europe apart from Italy). But this doesn't seem to apply to students who have grown up in the West - even though they are typically the children of middle class immigrants. My impression is that it seems to be the environment, eg an inferior* education system and more home stress, rather than regression effects.

*Undergraduate University education in sub-Saharan Africa seems incredibly robust, much better than in the West. Grades are far more reliable. I suspect this is because they inherited our University systems upon independence after WW2 and maintained them, whereas Western nations trashed theirs. Grade standards from a typical Nigerian University seem comparable to the best UK Universities. Which is not to say that their intakes are equal in ability: a '2.2' degree from a Nigerian University may indicate the student is in the top 5% of the class, whereas from a UK University it would indicate bottom 40%.

Steiner said...

The mass immigration of African and Caribbean blacks to AmeriKKKa in modern times puts the lie to each and every grievance lodged against the country by the descendants of slaves. To wit: "if the U.S.A. is so tough on black folks, why do the ones already here stay here and why do new ones show up by the millions?"

If one politician stands up and says this, and refuses to back down in the face of the ensuing uproar, the political discourse will change for the better, forever.

Anonymous said...

Rauh is not a doctor yet, she's working on her phd

poolside said...

I live in an area with a lot of African immigrants, and my kids have gone to school and been friends with several.

The girls seem to do quite well, getting involved in a broad range of school activities and going on to good colleges. Their friends tend to be white/Asian kids and they run in a high-achieving circle.

There is a lot of peer pressure on the boys, however, to be more like American blacks. This pressure comes from both whites and blacks.

It is not unusual to see the African boys associating only with American blacks and adopting their mannerisms and culture.

Anonymous said...

"This "surprised" you, lol. I guess you're a white liberal then. (Come on, who the hell else bothers with "skin color" when what he means is race - my group, and theirs.) The most basic of racial realities are forever "surprising" white liberals, who are unquestionably the greatest suckers to have ever walked the earth."

I was surprised that he would have such disdain for US blacks yet be so ready to assume their victimhood status. He seemed oblivious to the contradiction.

He is the only west african immigrant I've known well enough to actually have a discussion with, so perhaps these contrary attitudes are typical.

sunbeam said...

I don't think you have to invoke anything genetic about American culture, and only particularly about American slum culture to appreciate the threat of it all.

I don't think I am using Hyperbole. To my mind Malcolm X was a lot less threatening than the guy in Maryland who was cheerfully knocking up his guards.

I don't know why anyone is surprised that ghetto culture "infects" the children of black immigrants.

After all it is doing it to a lot of the white children as well.

I'm always surprised at the things that seem obvious to me that no one else notices.

Take for example the Xhosa in South Africa. When there is music going on, they do the "hop," as opposed to black Americans who go side to side.

And if you watch these court TV shows, and crap like Maury Povich, you will hear a brand new accent. It's really noticeable with the white ones. I call it the "hip hop" accent. I'm not talking about grammar (though that's nothing to write home about), they actually speak in a different tone and pronounce words differently.

All happened in about 20 years. Widespread, and no one seems to notice.

jody said...

people from the philippines also integrate downward and are vulnerable to assimilating into low class african culture in the US.

Silver said...

I was surprised that he would have such disdain for US blacks yet be so ready to assume their victimhood status. He seemed oblivious to the contradiction.

There isn't any contradiction there at all. None whatsoever. This is liberal (anti)logic at its finest.

A sense of racial belonging isn't a burden; it's a boon. WNs - or if you prefer, "racists" - have traditionally had plenty of disdain for my kind, the "greaseball" type. People of other races (even blacks) can be nice enough that their company is experienced as pleasurable, but that's all beside the point. I've got a race and it matters to me and I care deeply about its well-being. My only interest in other people's opinions of my kind is what they might do as a result of those opinions; if they weren't going do anything as a result of their feelings their "hatred" wouldn't even begin to bother me. Hell, the way I feel nowadays I'd even encourage them: hate away, pal, it's a mental release of sorts from the monumental BS that mainstream culture demands we pretend to believe.

Bert said...

I'm not surprised some folk mentioned Ghana.

I've been there several times. It's a beautiful country with some of the best beaches I've ever seen. The people, however, are odd. They certainly see themselves as superior to their countrymen, and most that I talked to expressed a desire to move to the UK so that their children would adopt superior British customs and wouldn't become filthy vagrants. I can't really blame them, honestly.

Ghana also has an exploding Muslim population, which will become a problem sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

The Susan Rice female politician is mixed and looks half black/half white. I think US Americans just think she's 1/4 white because some are idiotic and don't know what real biracial mulattos look like.

Walter Alexander said...

These types of articles never cease to amaze me, they're good for a laugh and nothing more. There's ZERO evidence that black immigrants fare better than traditional American blacks, in my experience it's the other way around.

The African-Americanization of black immigrants can't possibly lead to downward mobility because the black group that dominates economics, politics, entertainment etc. is American.

EmilyJacob said...

I guess, was skin color. As far as the age of immigration making a difference, it probably has a lot to do with wanting to fit in, so the kids take on the trappings of gang banger culture until it becomes entrenched. However in all the majority black schools we've dealt with, the top performing black students were invariably African or Haitian, even when they were a smaller percentage of the classroom population overall.

Anonymous said...

As soon anybody of african descent enters the us, he or she becomes black. Mainstream white america sees them as black, regardless of being somali, ethiopian, nigerian etc

Anonymous said...

They marry luos