In a previous post, I provided reasons to be skeptical of SES-based explanations of black criminality. This post provides studies that attempt to more rigorously examine the relationship between SES and black criminality. At the city and state level, crime is more strongly associated with the presence of blacks than it is with low-SES conditions. At the neighborhood level, studies suggest that controlling for SES can statistically account for a moderate portion of the black-white gaps in crime (although findings are mixed on the magnitude of the explained gap). Regardless, as I will argue below, such studies cannot demonstrate causality. That is, they cannot demonstrate that racial differences in neighborhood SES cause any portion of the racial gap in crime.
In this post, I will review studies that have attempted to account for the cognitive ability gap among children by controlling for a variety of factors, including parental socioeconomic status (SES), birth weight, home environment, parenting practices, etc. I will use these studies to determine what seem to be the most plausible candidate explanations of the gap. I end by reviewing some important issues for future investigation.
I began investigating potential investigating possible environmental causes of the cognitive ability gap in another post. I argued that common environmental explanations – test bias, schooling, socioeconomic status, and societal racism – failed to explain the gap. Because common environmental explanations fail, it may prove useful to consider non-environmental (i.e. genetic) explanations of the gap. I will perform this task in this post. First, I will clarify the meaning of estimates of the heritability of intelligence. Next, I criticize some common poor arguments against genetic explanations of the gap. Then I will consider some arguments for a genetic explanation of the gap that are related to the heritability of intelligence. I conclude that such arguments are not sufficient to make any conclusion either way about the cause of the gap. I end by detailing the kinds of direct data that should be used to confidently conclude whether and to what degree the cognitive ability gap is due to genetic differences.
In a previous post, I argued that the black-white cognitive ability gap is responsible for many of the undesirable social disparities that we find between blacks and whites in the United States – including disparities in income, education, occupation, and crime. This means that the cause of the cognitive ability gap is extremely important, as this informs how (and if) we can reduce these social disparities. In another post, I examined some arguments on whether the gap is due to genetic differences or environmental differences. In that post, I concluded that we must use direct data to quantify the degree to which the black-white cognitive ability gap is due to genetic differences vs environmental differences. In this post, I will attempt to review all such direct data. I conclude that a primarily environmental explanation of the gap is most compatible with all the relevant direct data.