From the much prettier Dana, writing on Patterico’s Pontifications:
Guess what? Hard work, high expectations and commitment pay off.
We find that the Asian-American educational advantage over whites is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics.
Also, no matter their economic background or the educational levels of their families, Asian American students typically surpass their white counterparts by the time they reach fifth grade.
asked study authors Amy Hsin of Queens College in New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan. “Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement,” the authors wrote. Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn.”
More at the link. But how amazing it is that scholars can attribute academic — and later life — success of a particular racial and ethnic group to a cultural trait which encourages hard work, and it’s not raaaaacist in the slightest, but if someone were to suggest that there is a particular ethnic or racial group with a cultural norm which discourages hard work and practically encourages dropping out of school, and that’s why aggregate achievement of that group is depressed, why he’d be practically a Klan member.
The Los Angeles Times’ story on this noted:
The authors wrote that family wealth was not a factor in performance.
“The poverty rates of Chinese and Vietnamese are higher than they are for whites. However the disadvantaged children of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant families routinely surpass the educational attainment of their native-born, middle-class white peers.”
Similarly, there was no convincing evidence that the reason was genetic. While Asian Americans might test higher than whites in cognitive ability around age 2, that edge eroded by the time the children entered school, authors wrote.
As expected, no one really wants to take the story to its logical conclusion:1 if culture and work ethic explain superior achievement by Asians and Asian-Americans, why wouldn’t culture and work ethic also explain inferior achievement by black Americans? No one wants to take that part of the story, because it completely destroys any justification for Affirmative Action, and it destroys the arguments of the left that black underachievement is somehow still the fault of white racism. If white racism were somehow at fault, then it would negatively impact Asians as well; even if one argues that Asians face less discrimination than do blacks, if white racism was the problem, then Asian students should, perhaps, do better than blacks, but still worse than whites.
I would guess that, had the study been between Jewish and Gentile whites, we’d see similar over-achievement by Jews, and for the same reasons. Having a culture which stresses the things which helps people to get ahead is going to have the quite natural result that the people in that culture, overall, will get ahead! That’s an obvious statement, but the reverse is also obvious: having a culture which denigrates the things which help people to get ahead will have the result of holding down the aggregate achievement of the group.