G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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The post poses a question that Cowen received from a reader about the high unemployment rate of South Africa. The reader provided a list of a few factors that he felt were important in explaining the high unemployment rate. When reading such a piece, a knowledgeable but even disinterested observer would realize what would happen next.
Everyone, regardless of their opinion on the matter, would read to see if racial group differences in IQ are one of the explanations. The firestorm will rage in the comments section afterwards with the OP’s opinion having no bearing on the tone and timbre of the comments section. So even mentioning the topic automatically precludes the outcome.
But the point I’d make if I were the first commenter on that thread (and not the 131st) would be that in a long list of possible variables contributing to South Africa’s high unemployment rate, the IQ gap should surely be entertained. The reader posits that maybe high crime rates are to blame for economic woes. That is a characteristic of the society that could theoretically be handled which would lead to a better economy. The reader whiffs past the possibility by saying that the “education system is broken”. But when he says that the crime rate is high he doesn’t say that some structural factor is broken. He says that a sociological characteristic is true at the moment and causes the problem.
This poses a research question – perhaps it has been addressed by someone like Garett Jones. Call it the barbell effect (honestly, as I’m writing this I vaguely recall something like this out in the literature, so maybe I’m channeling that or maybe this is original, let me know). Structural inequality in income and unemployment exists when the entire population is not distributed evenly on the cognitive spectrum. When you have two different curves, structural problems exist. When individuals lie on one single curve, those particular structural problems don’t exist, though other structural problems arise i.e. unions, allocation of resources, etc.
Now, Charles Murray suggests that this is currently taking place even in white America. Cognitive sorting. But if it exists as a shock to the system as it would when two large groups are at different points in their intellectual evolution, then it would exist from the get-go in a racially stratified environment.