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Hispanic educational achievements and incomes do lag behind those of white Americans. And certainly there is a substantial genetic component to intelligence; genes are, after all, the recipes that build bodies and brains in response to environmental cues. Yet as Unz’s analysis of Lynn and Vanhanen’s data shows, the average IQ of a population can change in a generation whereas its genetic makeup cannot. So what else might account for relatively lower Hispanic achievement so far in the U.S.?
The University of Texas economist Stephen Trejo suggests a number of possibilities. For example, Mexican immigration has lasted longer than immigration from any other country, promoting the growth and stability of culturally comfortable ethnic enclaves and slowing the process of assimilation. Trejo also proposes that earlier generations of unskilled immigrants faced a far less steep learning curve for moving up in a modern economy. In his 2005 book Italians Then, Mexicans Now, the Bard College sociologist Joel Perlman bolsters this point: “The crucial difference between the immigrant experience a hundred years ago and today is that relatively well-paid jobs were plentiful for workers with little education a hundred years ago, while today's immigrants arrive in an increasingly unequal America.” Trejo also wonders if some fairly significant proportion of Mexican-Americans have simply already melded into the white population and so are not counted in the sorts of IQ, income, and education statistics cited by Richwine and other researchers.
Perlman concludes that “Mexican economic assimilation may take more time—four or five generations rather than three or four.” Possibly so. But ultimately, modern Hispanic immigrants seem to be no stupider than the immigrant ancestors of other Americans.