March 30, 2014

Puerto Rico and IQ: Same as it ever was

At Human Varieties, Jason Malloy delivers a massive meta-analysis of Puerto Rican IQ, summarizing more than 70 studies over the last 93 years.

My favorite part is that Malloy has discovered a Jason Richwine-style brouhaha in the New York Times over Puerto Rican IQ from 1936:
The first report on the intelligence of NYC Puerto Ricans became something of a target for local and subnational hostility. In 1935 the New York State Chamber of Commerce’s Special Committee on Immigration and Naturalization commissioned a study on the intelligence of Puerto Rican schoolchildren in East Harlem. The average IQ of 240 9-14 year-olds on the Army Individual Performance Test was 86.8; a comparison group of 400 white children scored 103.3 (Armstrong et al, 1935). This relatively low IQ score—and, probably more so, the report’s consequent recommendations against Puerto Rican citizenship and statehood—incited a backlash among local community educators and activists. The popular Commie Congressman Vito Marcantonio even ranted against the study before the House of Representatives (Thomas, 2010, p. 86). 
Academics, journalists, and government leaders in Puerto Rico also condemned the report—many offering parentheticals on the inferior intelligence of Americans. The New York Times reported in 1936:
A recent suggestion by a committee of the New York State Chamber of Commerce that statehood for Puerto Rico be held “in abeyance” because of the low intelligence indicated by a group of children … has angered political leaders and newspapers here … 
[Commissioner of Agriculture] Mr. Menendez Ramos cites parts of a survey by… Columbia University… That … praised the intelligence of the island’s children, and said the level was higher than that of [American children] … 
It is unfair and unscientific, Mr. Menendez Ramos asserts, to assume that the New York colony, composed of a working class faced with the difficulties of a new language and a new environment, represents the average of Puerto Rican mentality. 
… The newspaper Mundo criticizes the report satirically … [suggesting] that the Chamber of Commerce study the excellent records of Puerto Rican students in American universities … the island’s college debaters have been uniformly victorious against American debaters (NYT Special Cable, 1936). 
Harlem educator Leonard Covello organized a “Racial Committee” to critically evaluate the study. The group “argued that the Puerto Rican children’s poor performance was attributable entirely to their lack of familiarity with English” (Thomas, 2010, p. 86). Meanwhile, criticisms of the study from Puerto Rico’s white elite took on a slightly more insulted and chauvinistic tone (as already seen in the New York Times report). PR Assistant Commissioner of Education, Pedro Cebollero—apparently not convinced that the problem was “attributable entirely” to language differences—fumed that the children in the report were described as 76% colored, while the U.S. census described Puerto Rico as only 26% colored: “This fact is an evidence of [the report’s] absolute disregard of the principle of “representativeness”… Pinter points out that ‘all results show the negro decidedly inferior to the white on standard intelligence tests.’” (Cebollero, 1936, p. 5)

Since then, of course, we've seen how wrong the 1936 psychometricians were, as Puerto Ricans have risen high in the ranks of accomplishment in America, such as composing, writing, and choreographing West Side Story.

Oh, wait, you're telling me West Side Story is by gay Jews? Why wasn't I informed?

Actually, it turns out that this video clip sums up how much has changed over the last 78 years.

This is not to say that Puerto Ricans in America haven't made any progress over the many generations. Malloy looks at 45 cognitive studies of Puerto Ricans in America, tosses 15 for methodological problems, and concludes:
The median of 30 studies gives us an IQ of 84.7 for Puerto Rican Americans. 
The current average appears to be somewhat higher. The median IQ of 19 samples from the 1930s-1970s is 83.7. The median IQ of 14 samples from the 1980s-2000s is 87.4.


Rachelle said...

Interesting post. There is a black population in PR that may have some impact on the average IQ. A couple of years ago I picked up a PR newspaper that had an article on research that showed a substantial proportion of Puerto Ricans have some American Indian ancestry. The authors were surprised because the previous dogma had assumed all of the Indians had been killed by evil whites. Instead, it appears the Indians merged with other ethnic groups as has happened in the US to some degree. Since Indians independently developed a civilization I suspect they wouldn't cause the type of downward pull on IQ averages that is the norm for blacks.

Anonymous said...


ATBOTL said...

Puerto Ricans are much more dysfunctional than one might think from how they look. They have a very trashy culture and revel in bad behavior.

That being said, the more successful Puerto Ricans on the mainland have largely intermarried with whites.

Anonymous said...

@ATBOTL: Dysfunctional? Really? Trashy culture? Then can you explain to me how much si it that you know about OUR culture? Can you also explain where do your trailer park, white trash comes from? And don't tell me from Puerto Rico. ALso, what color doyou think I am? As white as the snow and I am a Puerto Rican, born and raised in the Island, mother from PR, father from Cuba. Where the ehck did you get this "the more successful Puerto Ricans on the mainland have largely intermarried with whites". Dude, or dudette in any case, when you decide to make comments, be sure you know what you are talking about first. I bet you have never been in Puerto Rico, have no Puerto Rican friends or acquaintances and no idea of our history. And, not all Puerto Ricans are in fact rei-racial. Our culture is just as rich as the Americans since we both have a lot of Europen background + we have African too thanks to the slavery. Also, bad behavior people exist all over the World. Do not make such general remarks, please. You sound so ignorant.

Antifa said...


Far Right makes historic gains in French local elections.

Inevitably, racist incidents follow:

Franco-Tunisian 23 year-old artist shot dead.


Simon in London said...

"Oh, wait, you're telling me West Side Story is by gay Jews? Why wasn't I informed?"

I had no idea how gay West Side Story was until I tried to watch it on TV. My wife and I both had to give up and turn it off. Similar miserable experience trying to watch a West End production of Cabaret in the theatre. Whereas we enjoyed watching Bob Hope's very heterosexual 'White Christmas' on TV this Christmas a lot.

My guess would be that a little bit of gay can be good for a musical, but too much gay and it's just dreary. Sometimes the musical industry forgets that, or ceases to care.

Anonymous said...

Interesting data on the racial composition of P.R.:

"Averaging the results from 8 studies: Puerto Ricans are about 65.9% European, 19.8% African, and 14.8% Amerindian."

Anonymous said...

Data on P.R.s in the USA (aka the mainland):

Table XII is a list of admixture studies for Puerto Rican Americans. Averaging the results of 4 studies: mainlanders are 58.3% European, 25.9% African, and 15.8% Amerindian.

Puerto Ricans in the U.S. have over 7 percentage points more nonwhite—mostly black—ancestry than islanders. While a plurality still identify as white, mainlanders are much less likely to identify themselves as either black or white, with many more embracing a multiracial or miscellaneous label (e.g. the 2000 census: 49% white, 8.2% black, and 42.8% “other race”).

Anonymous said...

This isn't surprising, based on my experiences.

However, some of the successful Puerto Ricans I've known, who were almost always so white you would have thought they were German, were some of the most racist people I have ever met.

They would often self-identify as "white", which would sometimes lead to arguments with other Puerto Ricans or Caribbeans who claim there is no such thing as a "white " Puerto Rican, as if "Hispanic" is a race. In private these white Puerto Ricans would stress the pure whiteness and blondeness of their ancestry, how all their great grandparents are from Spain, and how the part of Puerto Rico they lived in didn't have any black Africans.

They would often blame the blacks for the problems in the barrio, and also in Puerto Rico, claiming Puerto Ricans of all races picked up some bad habits from ghetto blacks.

Reg Cæsar said...

Oh, wait, you're telling me West Side Story is by gay Jews? Why wasn't I informed?

Well, of Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Larry Kert, Stephen Sondheim, and Leonard Bernstein, only Lenny was ever really in the closet.

Remember, the three great operas set in Seville were the work of an Austrian, an Italian and a Frenchman. Maybe Ricky Martin can stage a musical in San Juan about straight New York Jews?

Reg Cæsar said...

That being said, the more successful Puerto Ricans on the mainland have largely intermarried with whites.

My uncle's father-in-law was a professional (doctor, lawyer, or something similar; I forget.which) from PR. His wife was mostly Irish, I think, with some colonial American ancestry.

And, yes, that makes my cousins Quarter Ricans.

jody said...

87 is not so bad. certainly they could help out with those crops rotting the fields, or something.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of race and IQ, I'm surprised this has not been commented upon in more places:

"We must therefore pool data from many genes to understand the evolution of complex traits like intelligence. This is what Davide Piffer (2013) has done in a recent study. He began with seven genes (SNPs) whose different alleles are associated with differences in intellectual capacity, as measured by PISA or IQ tests. Then, for fifty human populations, he looked up the prevalences of the alleles that seem to increase intellectual capacity. Finally, for each population, he calculated their average prevalence at all seven genes.

The average prevalence was 39% among East Asians, 36% among Europeans, 32% among Amerindians, 24% among Melanesians and Papuan-New Guineans, and 16% among sub-Saharan Africans. The lowest scores were among San Bushmen (6%) and Mbuti Pygmies (5%)."

Yeah, I know, it's only seven genes out of undoubtedly hundreds, but it may be the first proof that genes coding for intelligence are not equally distributed amongst different population groups.

The original paper is here and is open access:

They actually give prevalence for a dozen or so ethnic groups. The racial clustering is very evident and there are no big differences within each race. For example, the highest prevalence among whites is found amongst the Finns (36.5) and the lowest is among the Hapmap Utah Whites (34.1). Utah whites from the 1000 genomes project did better with 35.

E. Rekshun said...

In my suburban Boston high school, all the students in the Spanish Club were from puerto rico.

When I was thirteen, I got jumped by and beaten by two puerto ricans.

Truth said...

There are very few "black" people in Puerto Rico; you see some light skinned people with give-away afros (a little like Miguel Cotto, or Wilfredo Gomez for instance) and outside of extreme cases they are about as black as you get.

You're all morons.

I've been there three times and have driven all over the island.

josh said...

Doesnt Jennifer Lopez count for something??

josh said...

Re Gay Jews: Baby John was jewish and gay.The girls seemed to like him. I think a LOT of the Jets and Sharks were gay. But let me be perfectly clear,Riff was ALL MAN!! Riff was so cool!! Russ Tamblyn? The best! Did you see him as a kid in a Glenn Ford B movie "Fastest Gun Alive" (also starred Broderick Crawford!) And his work in Seven Brides?? He was the best! But after WSS his career never took off. He wasnt conventionally handsome,but he was a s cool as they come. One of my childhood heroes fo sho!As for PR's Gavin McInnes(sp?) of Talkimag had a great story about them. Basically he said they were all drug dealers and trash. Which is pretty much--well I knew a guy from PR I worked with,very hardworking and smart. He was head mechanic at a dealership. Great guy. Had an SUV with these ridiculous rims! I guess it has to come out somehow!

Silver said...

"Dysfunctional? Really? Trashy culture? Then can you explain to me how much si it that you know about OUR culture?"

The reason I know about it is from speaking to so many Puerto Ricans on the net who openly admit that people they call "Nuyoricans" are world class eff-ups. I tend to like PRs, just as I like most hispanics in general, but I must speak honestly: you're a typical third-worlder, brimming with pride and beating your chest, but deep down you know your country is a pile of crap which is why you're so sensitive to any outsider who figures it out. Get over yourself, acknowledge your betters and start learning from them. Maybe then you'll create something worth being proud of.

Anonymous said...

Bottledwater:"Something's not adding up. According to R Lynn, on a scale where the U.S. white mean is set at 100, pure black Americans average IQ 80, Native Americans average IQ 86 and whites by definiton average IQ 100.

So given the ancestry you cite, Puerto Ricans should score 0.583(100) + 0.259(80) + 0.158(86) = 93.

So perhaps the IQ scores of Puerto Ricans are artificially depressed by language barriers"

Or maybe that kind of racial parsing is not all that it's cracked up to be?

Bottledwater said...

Or maybe that kind of racial parsing is not all that it's cracked up to be?

Well it's simple genetics. The other possibility is that Lynn overestimated the IQ's of pure black Americans. Lynn estimated the IQ's of pure black Americans by subtracting white admixtures from the African American mean of 85. But Jensen and Rushton suspected that the true IQ of African Americans is 78. Which would make the mean of pure black Americans 71-74 (depending on how much white admixtures you subtract).

Anonymous said...

bottledwatter:"Well it's simple genetics. The other possibility is that Lynn overestimated the IQ's of pure black Americans. Lynn estimated the IQ's of pure black Americans by subtracting white admixtures from the African American mean of 85. But Jensen and Rushton suspected that the true IQ of African Americans is 78. Which would make the mean of pure black Americans 71-74 (depending on how much white admixtures you subtract)."

There are all kinds of factors at work.For example, here are the results for a P.R. IQ test broken down by race:

"In 1928 Nestor Vincenty examined first grade schoolchildren from seven different regions across the island on the Detroit First Grade Intelligence Test, the Pinter-Cunningham Primary Mental Test, and the Dearborn Group Tests of Intelligence.

The children were visually classified as either ‘white’ or ‘colored’ (i.e. black or mulatto) by their teachers. The average score from the three tests was 84.5 for 411 whites and 79.2 for 117 coloreds. This is a difference of 5.3 points—over 1/3 of a standard deviation."

Maybe White Puerto Ricans are not very smart on average...

Anonymous said...

More on IQ by race in P.R.:

"Phenotypic data was also recorded for 1,127 people from the Puerto Rican standardization of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale in 1965 (Green 1972). The test examiners were trained to rate each participant on a skin color scale from 1-5, although other racial characteristics were likely factoring into the subjective rankings; not least because the explicit purpose of the color rankings was to study race.

Each darker color ranking had progressively lower IQ scores, years of education, and occupational status. The IQ difference between the lightest color group and the darkest color group was 8 points (over ½ of a standard deviation). Green notes that people in categories 1-3 would more often be considered white in Puerto Rico, with category 4 being seen as mixed, and category 5 as negro. In Vincenty’s study, 78% of the children were classified as white, and 22% as colored. For the purpose of comparison we can merge skin tones 1-3 and 4-5, which is the closest approximation to Vincenty’s percentages that we can get with the categories in this study (86% white/14% colored). The IQ of 975 whites was 84.3 and the IQ of 152 coloreds was 80.2. This is a difference of 4.1 points, which accords with Vincenty’s results from nearly 40 years earlier."

Again, the White PR mean is quite low....

Anonymous said...

More PR IQ by race:

It is perhaps noteworthy that the race-based IQ estimate for Puerto Rican Americans (using ancestry data from Table XII) is 89.3, which is right in range. Although this doesn’t factor in the environmental effects of being raised in the United States (e.g. African Americans do not have an IQ of 75). Fortunately, this can be done, and with the added advantages of a common dataset: the General Social Survey provides IQ data for native-born African Americans, Spanish Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Rican Americans. African- and Native-Americans are ~17% and ~40% white. Factoring out the theoretical score advantages from white admixture gives us an IQ of 87.8 for blacks, 96.1 for Spaniards, and 87.5 for Natives. The predicted GSS IQ from weighting these scores by the genetic ancestry of mainlanders is 92.6. The observed GSS IQ for mainlanders is 91.4!

ATBOTL said...

I grew up in NYC and about half my friends when I was a teenager were PR. Been to La Isla many times.

If it makes you feel better, Puerto Ricans know how to have fun, are loyal and are very good looking people.

Btw, I'm an urban ethnic type white man, so I've never been to a trailer park. But there are cultural similarites between PRs and the trailer park element among white Americans.

Anonymous said...

Although some of the comments that have been left are full of statistics and "facts", the fact remains that every culture is different. Perhaps, each person that is discussing the differences in these various cultures should research further. Intelligence is defined differently among the many cultures of the world. What may be considered intelligent to one culture may not be the same for a different culture. Look into Diversity and Cultural Psychology. I am currently enrolled in college and taking a cross-cultural psychology class and some of the world's most intelligent psychologists and theorists will ALL define cultural intelligence the same. As a Puerto Rican woman, I am quite proud to say that my IQ is well above average and this has nothing to do with my ethnicity. Some of the comments that have been left proves the lack of intelligence and a need for reassurance about yourselves.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of factors that influence "intelligence". nutrition can influence intelligence not only in present, but future generations. This is often known as the Flynn effect. Puerto Rico lived in poverty during the XIX century and the early part of the XX century. Like the USA, we have a variety of people. Intelligent to abject morons... Just like the USA. Also, life in the tropics, where it is almost always easy to raise a crop requires less wits than in a 4-season environment. For example: in the 1920's and 30's, blacks from Illinois had higher IQ scores than whites from 9 southern states... If we ssume that intelligence traits are inherited, in an agrarian society (Spanish ruled Puerto Rico until 1898) brawn is more priced than brains... So hard workers were better rewarded socially than smarter ones.

In any event, other circumstances and attributes that have been found to vary to a greater or lesser (but always significant) extent in relation with IQ (Bouchard & Segal, 1985; Liungman, 1975) - note that not all of these relationships support an environmental view.

Intelligence varies with:

Infant malnutrition (-ve)

Birth weight

Birth order


Number of siblings (-ve)

Number of years in school

Social group of parental home

Father's profession

Father's economic status

Degree of parental rigidity (-ve)

Parental ambition

Mother's education

Average TV viewing (-ve)

Average book-reading

Self-confidence according to attitude scale measurement

Age (negative relationship, applies only in adulthood)

Degree of authority in parental home (-ve)

Criminality (-ve)

Alcoholism (-ve)

Mental disease (-ve)

Emotional adaptation

"No single environmental factor seems to have a large influence on IQ. Variables widely believed to be important are usually weak....Even though many studies fail to find strong environmental effects....most of the factors studied do influence IQ in the direction predicted by the investigator....environmental effects are multifactorial and largely unrelated to each other."
- Bouchard & Segal (1985), p.452

So, it would appear that there are many psychological and biological factors each contributing a small a small fraction to the variance in IQ scores. How they have palyed out in the Puertorican environment and more signifficantly in the US ghettos where they have had to live may be an indictment on the social and economic environment of the past century. Today, all Latinos, particularly those legally present in the US must compete qith unlawful workers for income and wellbeing. How does that feed into the intelligence equation is still to be seen.

Anonymous said...

If you worked in a classroom, you would notice the differences.

Put IQ aside, culturally, the importance of education is not stressed in the community.

White people have higher IQ's? They would not , most likely if there were not such a prevalence of two parent households.

Socioeconomics does play a factor-no education- no money- no movement

In 20 years, I have had three students who lived with both parents....three out of thousands of students
Parents have 5-6 children- 3/4 fathers

There are a number of factors

dekk said...

since when are the spanish blonde though?

Unknown said...

This is the most racist article I've read so far. I'm puertorican and I have an Iq of 120. And there's a large portion of the population with great achivements.

Unknown said...

You cannot measure intelligence based on IQ alone. I am Puerto Rican, I am bilingual, and supposedly I have an IQ of a 117, it's ridiculous. I may be able to crap an essay with no effort, but I struggle to do math and sports, I can do an oral report with ease, but I have little mechanical knowledge. Puerto Ricans are a varied culture(predominantly white in color but with a mixed heritage) and we should be tested as individuals. We excel at some things, and fail at others. We are, however, lazy for that which we find "boring". It's a flaw, but the truth. The students were probably told that it wasn't worth any "points" so they didn't take the test seriously.

Yet Mel said...

Are you kidding me? That is totally untrue, you racist imbecile. You are the one with the low IQ. Research and stop with the stereotypes. Let's take the group of the trailer park dumb white trash people and make it the representation of the American culture and IQ to see the outcome. You are one dumb fuck.

Anonymous said...

Puerto Rico's and Puerto Rican's low IQ is mostly due to centuries of inbreeding on a small island. European, Black or Indian, if a population's genetic pool consist of cousins mating with cousins, low IQ and mental retardation are the result.