JJ: Will Israel’s achievement gap stall the start-up nation?

The Jewish Journal writes:

Jewish Israeli students scored 133 points higher than Arab Israeli students on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in 2012. And even within the Hebrew-speaking group, students from strong socioeconomic backgrounds scored 100 points higher than those from weak backgrounds.
In short: The achievement gap between ethnicities, religions and social classes in Israel is wider than anywhere else in the developed world. And, depending on whom you ask, this gap could be reaching a point of no return…
Ben-Peretz, who received the Israel Prize for research in education and has served on many Knesset committees over the years, said that while she’s “not so optimistic” about convincing Charedis to educate their kids outside the synagogue, she’s come to be “very optimistic” about narrowing the gaps between Jews and Arabs.
However, she said, “schools in Israel have to be much more integrated” before a truly just system is possible.
That’s not a simple task: Giving Arab-Israeli students an equal education will mean desegregating a system that has been divided by race since the British Mandate era, before Israel was a state…

Eli Eisenberg, head of Israel Sci-Tech Schools’ research and development center on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, knows a lot about integration. He was previously tasked with overhauling South Africa’s post-apartheid education system under Nelson Mandela.
“Mandela told me, ‘If you want to be tolerant to the other, to understand the other, to work with the other, if you want to be inclusive, you have to be strong with your own identity,’ ” Eisenberg said. And in Israel, he said, this means strengthening each minority group’s own identity while at the same time integrating them into a national system.
This aim becomes trickier in practice. An Arab-Israeli student from an Israel Sci-Tech Schools campus in the north who accompanied a group of American donors for a tour of her neighboring Jewish school was confused when a Jewish student came out dressed as Theodor Herzl; she had never heard of the man…

Shalom was referring to a famous divide in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s between Ashkenazic Jews, who had access to comprehensive, liberal-arts educations, and Sephardic Jews, who were funneled into vocational schools — forcing them to take blue-collar jobs without the opportunity for upward mobility.

Nowhere does this article mention that different groups, on average, have different capabilities. In America, for instance, blacks have an average IQ of 85, latinos of 90, whites of 100, orientals of 105, and Ashkenazim around 110.

Psychometrician J.J. Ray writes:

I have had an interesting correspondence with Richard Lynn about Israeli IQ. He notes that Israelis of European origin (Ashkenazim) have an average IQ of about the European norm (100) whereas Israelis from the Arab lands (Sephardim) have the quite low average IQ of 88.

What does that say about Arab IQ? Seeing that those Jews who are racially mainly Arab ought to be at least no less intelligent than the parent Arab population, it suggests to me that Arabs in general are pretty low on intelligence — and Lynn confirms that.

The most interesting question, however, is why the Israeli Ashkenazim are not well ABOVE the European norm. As Rushton summarizes the recent American data: “The average IQ for African Americans was found to be lower than those for Latino, White, Asian, and Jewish Americans (85, 89, 103, 106, and 115, respectively)“. So why do not Israeli Ashkenazis average 115 too? I am afraid that the obvious explanation is that it was mainly the foolish (idealistic?) Jews of European origin who have ended up in Israel. The smart ones are in New York.

Lynn points out, however, that the figure for Jews quoted by Rushton is based on limited sampling. Lynn believes that a figure of 108 is better substantiated. In statistician’s terms, however, 108 is still quite a high figure (around half a standard deviation above the mean).

Update on Israeli IQ: Since I wrote the above the Israeli IQ picture has become a lot clearer. This article quotes IQ test results from Israeli army intakes — and army intakes are a traditionally strong source of IQ norms, particularly where conscription prevails — as it does in Israel. He points out that the Israeli army intakes average an IQ of 100 and relates that to the well-known fact that “Sephardim” (broadly defined) score much lower than that. The obvious deduction is that the Askenazi component of the intake is pulling the army average up so must themselves be scoring around 107 — which is similar to what we find among Ashkenazim in NYC and elsewhere.

A second contribution comes from smart fraction theory. Israel shows enormously high competencies in all sorts of ways so the idea that their average IQ is unremarkable clashes with that. Smart fraction theory, however, shows that it is not the average IQ that matters to national wellbeing and achievement but rather the IQ of (say) the top 5% of the population. So in an ethnically mixed population, you could well have a very smart top 5% even though the average is low or unremarkable. And that describes Israel very well — with the Ashkenazim providing that smart fraction.

As Arab media reported, Arabs tend to have low IQs:

An international study revealed that the Iraqi people ranked first in the list of the smartest Arabs, followed by Kuwait then Yemen while Saudi Arabia, Emirates and Morocco shared the same rank ie the 24th position worldwide.

The study published on goodnet.org ranked nations worldwide according to their citizens intelligence using the famous IQ (Intelligence Quotient) criteria which gives an intelligent person a quotient of 100. As this number increases the subject verges on genius while the famous scientist Albert Einstein enjoyed an IQ of 200.

The study based on the average intelligence of different people revealed that the Iraqis ranked first among Arab countries with an average IQ of 87 giving it the 21st rank worldwide.

Kuwait came second on the Arab level with an average IQ of 86 then Yemen with 85. The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arab and Morocco were closely ranked in the 23rd and 24th position worldwide and the 4th position in the Arab World with an IQ of 84 after Iraq, Kuwait and Yemen. Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Oman, Syria and Tunisia came 5th in the Arab World with an average IQ of 83 giving them the 25th position internationally.

In spite of the reputation the Lebanese and Egyptians enjoy for being cultured and artistic and enjoy more pronounced political and social movements in comparison with other countries; the International IQ test put them in a relatively low rank. The Lebanese got 82 and the Egyptian 91 while the Qatari scored 78 and the Sudanese got 71; ranking last on the Arab level.

On the international level, Singapore ranked first with an IQ of 108 which clearly exceeded the international level while North Korea came second with 106, then Japan 105. The fourth rank was occupied by the first European country, Italy registering 102. Italy was followed by Island, Mongolia, Switzerland, Austria and China in which the average IQ is the standard 100.

It is these low Arab IQs that largely accounts for Arabs lack of educational and economic success in Israel, not government funding for schools.

The achievement gap that is the focus of this Jewish Journal cover story is universal. It has little to do with Israel, just as America’s race problems have little to do with America. Everywhere in the world, blacks and Arabs tend to do poorly when compared with whites and orientals in education and economic achievement. Everywhere in the world you have substantial numbers of Sephardim and Ashkenazim, the Ashkenazim are more accomplished. Groups and countries largely achieve according to their average IQs.

According to Steve Sailer: “The greatest trick the intelligent ever pulled was convincing the world intelligence doesn’t exist.”

Sailer wrote: “Jewish intellectuals have a tendency that on any topic related to Jews, they tend to think baroquely many steps down the line. Thus, the full panoply of the subjects that have been assumed to be bad-for-the-Jews and therefore ruled out of discussion in polite society is breathtakingly broad — for example, IQ has been driven out of the media in large part because it is feared that mentioning that Jews have higher average IQs would lead, many steps down the line, to pogroms.”

Sailer wrote:

To quantify the statement that “Jews are a small group, but influential in their areas of concentration,” in 2009, the Atlantic Monthly came up with a list of the top 50 opinion pundits: half are of Jewish background.

Over 1/3rd of the 2009 Forbes 400 are of Jewish
background, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s reporter who covers Jewish philanthropy.

Joel Stein of the LA Times found in 2007 that people
of Jewish background hold a large majority of the most powerful positions in Hollywood.

This is not to say that influential Jews are at all united in what they favor. On the other hand, it is more or less true that Jews hold something of a veto over what topics are considered appropriate for discussion in the press, Jewish influence itself being the most obvious example of a topic that is off the table in polite society.

Experts in IQ such as Richwine note: “IQ scores can be thought of as individual probabilities that aggregate into certainties in large groups.” In the words of NYU’s Steven Goldberg, IQ is to achievement in people what weight is to achievement in offensive tackles in the NFL.

Slate published an essay by two Psychology professors Apr. 14, 2014:

IQ predicts many different measures of success. Exhibit A is evidence from research on job performance by the University of Iowa industrial psychologist Frank Schmidt and his late colleague John Hunter. Synthesizing evidence from nearly a century of empirical studies, Schmidt and Hunter established that general mental ability—the psychological trait that IQ scores reflect—is the single best predictor of job training success, and that it accounts for differences in job performance even in workers with more than a decade of experience. It’s more predictive than interests, personality, reference checks, and interview performance. Smart people don’t just make better mathematicians, as Brooks observed; they make better managers, clerks, salespeople, service workers, vehicle operators, and soldiers.

IQ predicts other things that matter, too, like income, employment, health, and even longevity. In a 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal, Scottish researchers Lawrence Whalley and Ian Deary identified more than 2,000 people who had taken part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932, a nationwide assessment of IQ. Remarkably, people with high IQs at age 11 were more considerably more likely to survive to old age than were people with lower IQs. For example, a person with an IQ of 100 (the average for the general population) was 21 percent more likely to live to age 76 than a person
with an IQ of 85. And the relationship between IQ and longevity remains
statistically significant even after taking SES into account. Perhaps
IQ reflects the mental resources—the reasoning and problem-solving skills—that people can bring to bear on maintaining their health and making wise decisions throughout life. This explanation is supported by evidence
that higher-IQ individuals engage in more positive health behaviors,
such as deciding to quit smoking…

Given everything that social scientists have learned
about IQ and its broad predictive validity, it is reasonable to make it a factor in decisions such as whom to hire for a particular job or admit to a particular college or university. In fact, disregarding IQ—by admitting students to colleges or hiring people for jobs in which they are very likely to fail—is harmful both to individuals and to society. For example, in occupations where safety is paramount, employers could be incentivized to incorporate measures of cognitive ability into the recruitment process.

Linda Gottfredson wrote:

1. IQ (as long as it’s a good measure of g)
predicts a broad range of life outcomes better than does SES
[socio-economic status], from GPA to longevity. Corollary: You can wash
out IQ’s apparent predictive superiority only if you load your SES
battery with additional surrogates for parents’ or own g.

2. The phenotypic correlations between IQ and measures
of social class (education, occupational prestige, income) are from a
half to two-thirds genetic in origin.

3. SES cannot explain the big IQ differences among
siblings growing up in the same household: They differ two-thirds as
much in IQ, on the average (11-12 points), as do any two random
strangers (~17 points). This is a glaring fact that SES enthusiasts
have studiously ignored.

4. Adult functional literacy (e.g., see the fed’s NALS
survey) predicts life outcomes in exactly the same pattern as does IQ,
though they won’t tell you that. Functional literacy is measured by
having subjects carry out everyday life tasks, such as using a menu to
figure out the price for something. Persons scoring at levels 1-2 (out
of 5) have been described as not having the ability to use their rights
or meet their responsibilities in the modern world (40% of whites, 80%
of blacks). Pick out a few NALS tasks at various levels and ask your
critic what % of adults s/he thinks can perform them. They will be
shocked and so will you when you see the data–go to my 1997 “Why g
matters” article for NALS, or my 2002 “highly general and highly
practical” chapter for health literacy items–e.g., on diabetes.

5. IQ predicts on-the-job performance better overall
than any other single predictor (SES isn’t even in the running), it
predicts better when performance is objectively rather than
subjectively measured, and when the tasks/occupations are more complex
in what they require workers to do. At the same cognitive complexity
level, IQ predicts job performance equally well in manual and
non-manual jobs (e.g., trades vs. clerical. The exact same complexity
pattern is found with functional literacy–the hardest items are the
most complex (require more inference, are abstract rather than
concrete, contain more distracting irrelevant information, etc.)

6. A large followup of Australian veterans found that
IQ was the best predictor of death by age 40 (had 50+ predictors).
Vehicle fatalities were the biggest cause (as is typical), and,
compared to men with IQs of 100+, men of IQ85-100 had twice the rate
and men IQ 80-85 had three times the rate. (Remember, SES could not
explain this.) The US (and apparently Australia) forbid induction of
persons below IQ 80 because they are not sufficiently trainable–found
out the hard way.

7. Finally, if you succeed in describing g as a
general learning and reasoning ability (one that gives high g people an
increasing edge when tasks are more complex), then it is easy to show
g’s life and death relevance when you describe how health self-care and
accident prevention are highly dependent on learning and reasoning.
Consider what it takes to be an effective diabetic–lots and lots of
judgment on a daily basis, or you’re likely to lose your sight, your
limbs, etc.

Gottfredson wrote:

Of all human traits, variation in general
intelligence (g) is the functionally most important in modern life. The first question that behavior genetics tackled was ‘‘how heritable are within-group differences in intelligence?’’—the answer: ‘‘very.’’

Gottfredson said: “Keep in mind that false belief in infinite human malleability led to some of the worst horrors of the 20th century. I also think it is patronizing and usually self-serving when elites contend that the American public cannot be trusted with certain facts.”

Gottfredson wrote:

If all 13‐year‐olds took the same 15‐minute test (WASI), I could give you each child’s odds for all these adult outcomes without knowing anything else about them.
– Drops out of high school,
– Holds mostly unskilled jobs, skilled jobs vs. professional jobs
– Performs those jobs well
– Lives in poverty
– Can find a particular intersection on a map, or grams of carbohydrate
per serving on a food label
– Adheres to a medical treatment regimen for diabetes or other chronic
– Dies prematurely

Gottfredson wrote:

The first step in assessing the real-life importance of g/IQ is to determine whether scores on highly g-loaded tests (tests that measure g well) predict differences in valued life outcomes. Correlations do not prove causation, but they are a first step in doing so. The most studied outcomes are performance in school (such as school marks and achievement test scores), performance on the job (mostly supervisor ratings), socioeconomic advancement (level of education, occupation, and income), and social pathology (adult criminality, poverty, unemployment, dependence on welfare, children outside of marriage). The relations of intelligence to health, health behavior, resilience in the face of extreme adversity, longevity (length of life), and functional literacy (the ability to do routine reading, writing, and arithmetic tasks in modern societies) have also begun to draw much attention. Thousands of studies have looked at the impact of mental abilities on school and job performance, and large national longitudinal studies in both Europe and the United States have shown that IQ is related to various forms of socioeconomic success and failure. Here are their most general findings about g’s association with life outcomes.

Correlations with IQ are pervasive. IQ predicts all the foregoing outcomes to some degree. Subjective well-being (happiness) is the rare exception: it is regularly found not to correlate meaningfully with IQ level. In general, g relates more to instrumental behavior than emotional reactions.

Correlations with IQ vary systematically by type of outcome. IQ’s predictive value ranges widely, depending on the outcome in question. For example, when averaged over several years, performance on standardized tests of academic achievement correlates about as highly with IQ as two IQ tests do with each other (over .8 on a scale of -1.0 to 1.0). In contrast, correlations with IQ are closer to .6-.7 for school marks, years of education completed, and longevity. They are about .5 with prestige level of occupation, .3 to .4 with income (the correlations rising with age), and .2 with law-abidingness.

Correlations with IQ are higher when tasks are more complex. To illustrate, when jobs are ranked in overall complexity of work, the correlations between IQ and job performance rise from .2 for simple, unskilled jobs, to .5 in middle-level jobs (skilled trades, most clerical work), to .8 in the most complex (doctors, engineers, top executives). Stated another way, it matters little how intelligent workers are in low-level jobs, but it matters a great deal in high-level jobs, regardless of whether the job seems academic or not.

IQ/g is best single predictor, mental or non-mental.
IQ/g usually predicts major life outcomes better than does any other single predictor in broad samples of individuals. For example, whether IQ predicts strongly (educational performance) or weakly (law-abidingness), it predicts better than does social class background…

Social privilege theory also predicts that the impact of environmental conditions will accumulate with age, but longitudinal studies show that IQ actually becomes more heritable over the life span (from 40% before entering elementary school to 80% by mid-adulthood). Perhaps most surprising of all, differences in family advantage have no lasting effect on IQ by adolescence, at least in the U.S. and Europe, so family members are no more alike in IQ by adulthood than their genetic relatedness would predict…To take one example, the post-World War II communist government of Warsaw, Poland, assigned families of all social classes to the same housing, schools, and health services, but this social leveling failed to narrow intelligence differences in the next generation…

The pattern is that, when two groups differ in average IQ, the proportions of their populations found at each point on the IQ distribution differ most at the extremes, or tails, of the IQ distribution. This is seen most clearly by looking at the ratios in the bottom three rows of Figure 3. Take, for example, blacks and whites above IQ 100. Blacks become progressively rarer, relative to whites, at higher IQ levels: 1:3 above IQ 100, 1:7 above IQ 110, and only 1:30 above IQ 125…

IQ 75 signals the ability level below which individuals are not likely to master the elementary school curriculum or function independently in adulthood in modern societies. They are likely to be eligible for special educational services in school and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the U.S. government, which is financial support provided to mentally and physically disabled adults. Of course, many do marry, hold a job, raise children, and otherwise function adequately as adults. However, their independence is precarious because they have difficulty getting and keeping jobs that pay a living wage. They are difficult to train except for the simplest tasks, so they are fortunate in industrialized nations to get any paying job at all. While only 1 out of 50 Asian-Americans faces such risk, Figure 3 shows that 1 out of 6 black- Americans does.

IQ 85 is a second important minimum threshold because the U.S. military sets its minimum enlistment standards at about this level. Although the military is often viewed as the employer of last resort, this minimum standard rules out almost half of blacks (44%) and a third of Hispanics (34%), but far fewer whites (13%) and Asians (8%). The U.S. military has twice experimented with recruiting men of IQ 80-85 (the first time on purpose and the second time by accident), but both times it found that such men could not master soldiering well enough to justify their costs. Individuals in this IQ range are not considered mentally retarded and they therefore receive no special educational or social services, but their poor learning and reasoning abilities mean that they are not competitive for many jobs, if any, in the civilian economy. They live at the edge of unemployability in modern nations, and the jobs they do get are typically the least prestigious and lowest paying: for example, janitor, food service worker, hospital orderly, or parts assembler in a factory.

IQ 85 is also close to the upper boundary for Level 1 functional literacy, the lowest of five levels in the U.S. government’s 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). Adults at this literacy level are typically able to carry out only very simple tasks, such as locating the expiration date on a driver’s license or totaling a bank deposit slip, but they typically cannot perform more difficult tasks, such as locating two particular pieces of information in a sports article (Level 2), writing a brief letter explaining an error in a credit card bill (Level 3), determining correct change using information in a menu (Level 4), or determining shipping and total costs on an order form for items in a catalog (Level 5). Most routine communications with businesses and social service agencies, including job applications, are thus beyond the capabilities of persons with only Level 1 literacy. Their problem is not that they cannot read the words, but that they are not able to understand or use the ideas that the words convey…

IQ 105 can be viewed as the minimum threshold for achieving moderately high levels of success. It has been estimated to be the point at which individuals have a 50-50 chance of doing well enough in secondary school to be admitted to a four-year university in the United States. People above this level are highly competitive for middle-level jobs (clerical, crafts and repair, sales, police and firefighting), and they are good contenders for the lower tiers of managerial and professional work (supervisory, technical, accounting, nursing, teaching). Figure 3 shows that Asian-Americans are 6-7 times more likely than blacks to exceed the IQ 105 threshold. The percentages are 53%, 40%, 27%, and 8%, respectively, for Asians, whites, Hispanics, and blacks.

IQ 115 marks the ability threshold for being competitive as a candidate for graduate or professional school in the U.S. and thus for high levels of socioeconomic success. Partly because of their higher educational promise, individuals above this IQ level have the best prospects for gaining the most coveted occupational positions in a society. This is the IQ range in which individuals can be self-instructing and are, in fact, expected to instruct, advise, and supervise others in their community and work environments. This is therefore the IQ range from which cultural leaders tend to emerge and be recruited. The percentages exceeding this threshold are, respectively, 40% (Asians), 28% (whites), 10% (Hispanics), and 4% (blacks).

Psychologist Byron M. Roth wrote:

The most notable difference among Jewish groups is average IQ. While the Ashkenazi average is 110, the Sephardic average is about 99, close to that of Europeans. The Mizrahim score about 91, markedly lower than Europeans, but higher than the Arabs with whom they have lived, whose average is about 84. The genetically distinct Falashas have IQs of about 70, typical of sub-Saharan people.

These IQ differences have had an important impact on the achievement of each group. This is especially clear in Israel, where they live side by side. The Israeli population of about 6 million people (in 2000) is about 40 percent Mizrahim, about 40 percent “European,” and about 20 percent Arab Muslims. Comparisons are complicated, however, because the 2.4 million characterized as European include 110,000 Sephardim.

Furthermore, many in the group classified as European Jews are immigrants from Russia, a large number of whom—some Israeli demographers estimate as many as 900,000—are not Jews at all. They are ethnic Russians “who pretended to be Jews in order to obtain permission to leave the Soviet Union.” For these reasons the average IQ of those classified as European Jews is estimated to be about 106, lower than would be the case if all were Ashkenazim.

Nevertheless, on all measures of social and educational success, the Europeans do better than the Mizrahim, who in turn do better than the Arab citizens, a ranking perfectly consistent with IQ estimates. Of particular interest are the Ethiopians, who do very poorly, and behave like American blacks. According to an Israeli researcher, many “identify with an ‘aggressive and semi-criminal African-American youth culture’ and have become a ‘kind of ethnic underclass.’”

Charles Murray said:“IQ is a raw material to which you add all sorts of other things [such as ethics and industriousness] which we don’t know how to measure well.”

“Half of the children are below average, which by the way, I have gotten hissed for saying on college campuses… The limits on the ability to learn are quite strict… There are sharp constraints on what anybody who is average to below can learn.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Ashkenazim, IQ, Israel, Sephardim. Bookmark the permalink.