The Black-White IQ Gap: Is It Closing? Will It Ever Go Away?
About This Event

For decades, the difference in the test scores of blacks and whites on the SAT, National Assessment of Educational Progress test, Armed Forces Qualification Test, and traditional IQ tests has been a vexed issue for American educational policy. Two of the leading scholars of this controversial topic, James R. Flynn Listen to Audio


Download Audio as MP3
of the University of Otago (New Zealand) and Charles Murray of AEI, will debate the causes of the difference, its implications, and recent trends. New studies of the subject by Professor Flynn and by Mr. Murray will be available for distribution at the session.

Agenda
9:45 a.m.
Registration
10:00
Panelists:
James R. Flynn, University of Otago
Charles Murray, AEI
Moderator:
Christopher DeMuth, AEI
Noon
Adjournment
Event Summary

November 2006

The Black-White IQ Gap: Is It Closing? Will It Ever Go Away?

For decades, the difference in the test scores of blacks and whites on the SAT, National Assessment of Educational Progress test, Armed Forces Qualification Test, and traditional IQ tests has been a vexed issue for American educational policy. Two of the leading scholars of this controversial topic, James R. Flynn of the University of Otago and Charles Murray of AEI, debated the causes of the difference, its implications, and recent trends on November 28 at AEI.

James R. Flynn
University of Otago

After a thorough analysis of nine standardization samples for four major tests of cognitive ability, we can now say with certainty that the black-white IQ gap is a myth. The data shows that black Americans gained four to seven IQ points on non-Hispanic whites between 1972 and 2002. These gains have been shown to be fairly uniform across the entire range of black cognitive ability.

While other scholars such as Charles Murray have analyzed some of the same trends to make the case for a black-white IQ gap, the quality of their standardization samples was lacking. Nonetheless, all results from these other studies are compatible with our estimate of an average IQ of 90.5 for black schoolchildren in 2002. All existing data suggest that since the 1960s, black children have made large IQ gains relative to whites, even if the precise timing of those gains is uncertain.

A balanced look at the evidence indicated that the racial IQ gap is not of genetic origin. Blacks have gained four to seven IQ points on Whites over the past thirty years. Changes in neither the ancestry of the individuals classified as black nor changes in those who identify themselves as black can explain more than a small fraction of this gain. Therefore, the environment has been responsible. Further progress in the improvement of the environment of blacks would most certainly engender further black IQ gains.

Charles Murray
AEI

There is agreement that the gap between black and white Americans did narrow during the twentieth century by the amount that Dickens and Flynn (2006) estimate. However, there is disagreement over whether the gap has stalled for persons born since the 1970s. Although we can expect the narrowing to resume, there are reasons to think that the remaining gap will be with us indefinitely.

Based on IQ standardization, national college admissions tests, studies of No Child Left Behind, and national surveys, we have strong evidence that the narrowing of the gap has stalled. The best data for persons born from the 1970s onward comes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which yields significant evidence that the black-white difference did not diminish for the sample of children born from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. The NLSY should be regarded as the most accurate source due to its large sample sizes, its extensive background information, and other factors.

Given everything that is known about heritability of IQ and the remaining environmental differentials between blacks and whites, unless the dysgenic pattern of black fertility changes, any narrowing of the IQ gap will be confined to children. Among adults, the IQ gap is unlikely to do any better than remain at present levels.

AEI research assistant Joe Manzari prepared this summary.

View complete summary.
Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

Poverty in America—and What to Do About It
image GDP for second quarter: Strong headline, weak innards
image Paul Ryan and the emerging conservative reform agenda in higher education
image Democrats' impeachment fixation
AEI Participants

 

Christopher
DeMuth

 

Charles
Murray
AEI on Facebook
Don't Miss...