Friday, February 10, 2012

Murray Coming Apart 4: Adding Non-Whites Barely Changes the Pattern

This week I will be blogging on Charles Murray's new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960 - 2010. If you would like to read the short version of his argument, see "The New American Divide" in the Wall Street Journal.

In the Bell Curve, Murray wrote 12 chapters about IQ and white Americans, making 90% of the book's argument about the growth of the "cognitive elite."  Then he added a chapter about IQ and race to make an entirely secondary point.  However, 90% of the storm of controversy about the book concerned that one chapter.

This time, Murray put right in the subtitle that this book is about white America.  Nonetheless, he does have one tiny chapter near the end where he looks at what happens to the trends in Belmont and Fishtown when he adds in non-whites.  And the answer is: almost nothing.  Belmont is disproportionately Asian, but the Asian group, still in single digits, closely follows the white pattern.  Fishtown is disproportionately black, Hispanic, and Asian, but each group is still a minority.  Moreover, the black pattern, which is somewhat worse than the white, is balanced out by the Hispanic and Asian patterns, which are slightly better.

The big difference between the racial effects in The Bell Curve and Coming Apart is that the former is about all of America, whereas the latter is only about the top and the bottom.  Most black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, like most white Americans, are in the middle. That means they are not included in the analysis of the new upper class and new lower class that makes up most of Coming Apart.

Murray's main conclusion is that America is coming apart, but on class lines, not on racial or ethnic lines. And inside the new upper class, and inside the new lower class, the people are becoming more like one another, even as the two classes are becoming more different from one another.

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