Asian American Subgroup SAT Performance

I originally intended on including and briefly discussing these values in my “Ethnic/Race Differences in Aptitude” paper since therein I touched upon differences in Asian American subgroup performance (e.g., Table 15 and Table 17). Alas, I ran out of both space and my reviewers’ patience. Since the general topic continues to arise, I thought I might mention them, though. The 1996 and 2000 National Postsecondary Student Aid Studies (NPSAS 1996/2000), which were representative of the university populations at the respective times, contained both an “Asian origin” variable and a composite SAT score one, thus allowing for some investigation of subgroup variability. In expressing the differences, I used citizen/U.S. born White values as a reference for the SAT scores. Standardized differences were computed using the total group standard deviations, since population specific ones were unavailable. NA means that the sample sizes did not meet NCESDataLab’s cutoff for reportability. And negative values mean that the groups in question performed better than U.S. born/citizen Whites. As the confidence intervals — not shown below — were large for all of the Asian subgroups, results should be interpreted with caution. It’s notable that there were large U.S. born/non-U.S. born effects for both East and South Asians. The scores were for college students, so this might represent a foreign student effect (as opposed to a generation 1/generation 2+ immigrant one).

NPSAS 1996 and 2000              
1996       2000      
Nationality non-Citizen Citizen All Nationality Not US Born US BORN All
Chinese 0.01 -0.66 -0.44 Chinese -0.28 -0.64 -0.46
Korean -0.38 -0.63 -0.54 Korean -0.12 -0.82 -0.37
Japanese NA NA -0.79 Japanese NA -0.20 -0.06
Filipino NA -0.17 -0.13 Filipino NA 0.03 0.12
Vietnamese 0.86 -0.18 0.31 Vietnamese 0.61 NA 0.39
Asian Indian 0.47 -0.96 -0.43 Asian Indian 0.22 -0.88 -0.24
Asian/PI (total) 0.29 -0.37 -0.19 Asian/PI (total) 0.10 -0.41 -0.12
White 0.08 Reference 0.00 White -0.03 Reference 0.03
Black 0.84 0.87 0.87 Black 0.74 1.00 0.96

Used the total group standard deviation


  1. RandomCriticalAnalysis


    California’s department of education provides data for various “asian” ethnic groups for several tests at different grade levels. Nice thing is that you can get fairly granular data by school district (or even school) which, along with school district level ACS data, lets you control for parent income, education levels, poverty rates, and the like. I analyzed some of the data on my blog earlier.

    This helps to address some of the oft heard assertions that high (east) asian achievement is just because they’re rich, highly educated, and the like. I also find, unsurprisingly, strong aggregate-level correlations between these (and other) school test scores and ACT/SATs (especially if after you adjust for SAT or ACT participation rates).


    • Chuck


      RCA, Thanks. I looked at the Californian 2003-2008 scores in this paper (see Table 15). I noticed that Asian Indians only scored slightly above Whites (d = -0.11), a finding which is inconsistent with other data points (for example, above). Might you have an explanation for this inconsistency? Is, in your opinion, the Californian Asian Indian population more or less cognitively representative of the National one?

      • Aron

        First of all, both the data-sets, the above one and California 2003-2008 scores are the same.

        In the above data-set you will find that Asian (Indians) not born in USA score 0.22, while those born in USA score -0.88. California 2003-2008 data shows combined scores which is -0.11.
        Most of the Indian kids in US are born in India as most migration happened recently and is of the IT guys who bring their kids from India. Those who are born in USA do not face fluoride contamination which is very high in India or mal-nourishment and hence score higher than “Indian born kids”.
        So, if you look at overall Indian scores, it is weighted more towards foreign born and hence overall result (California one) is lower.

        Similarly in UK, the trend is same.

        Page 56:-

        “First, rows 6 and 7 give non-verbal reasoning IQs of 83 for Indian children resident for fewer than four years in Britain and 97 for those resident in Britain for four or more years, indicating a gain of 14 IQ points arising from residence.”

        Note that Lynn is talking about non-verbal IQ.

        Indians who come to UK are somewhat average Indian with IQ of 83 which rises to 97 in 4 years of residence as per Lynn. However, this is not complete Flynn effect. If 4 years of residence in UK can increase IQ by 14 points, IQ would be even higher if the person was simply born there. As intellect growth happens in young age, and adult age can only change a bit of your g.
        To see a complete Flynn effect on Indians, you have to look at the results of kids born in UK.

        GCSE gives a national result in UK on very big data-set which again combines immigrant and non-immigrant.
        Page 8. 5 A*grades. Chinese: 74.4, Indian: 72.9, White: 56.4

        So, just like USA; Indians in UK score 97 after arrival. And much higher for those who are born there.

        the Californian Asian Indian population more or less cognitively representative of the National one?

        No, India faces 44 pc mal-nourishment which is decreasing by 2.2 pc per year, and lowering IQ. on top, fluoride contamination is major in India.
        In recent days, by removing fluoride in Lucknow; researchers were able to push the average IQ to 110.

        Average IQ of school kids in Lucknow in non-dental fluorosis regions was 110 and 100 overall (normal fluoride region and severe fluoride regions combined).

        However, IQ of second generation Indians in US and UK may give a hint on the genotypic (and not current) IQ of India.

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