Why do black African immigrants do better than American-born blacks?

Millions of sub-Saharan blacks seek to immigrate to America. They apparently haven’t gotten the memo that this is a wretched land of systemic anti-black racism.

When they get here, they’re strangers in a strange land. English is usually not their first language. Their skin color tends to be very black, not the lighter color of American blacks who have an average of about 25% white blood in them.

Despite those handicaps, they do better than American-born blacks. Compared to American-born blacks, their income is about a third higher, their poverty rates are significantly lower, their educational achievement is higher, and their marriage rate is double.

Here’s the most intriguing statistic. Although black immigrants are more successful than American-born blacks, their relative success does not get passed on to their children. Compared to the immigrant parents, their grown children work less, are impoverished more, obtain less education and are less-often married.

Why is this? Does the notorious systemic racism of America somehow target the children of black immigrants while leaving the immigrant parents unscathed?

Maybe. But It’s hard to imagine the mechanism for such selective racism targeting.

It’s more likely that the children of black immigrants assimilate into American black culture — a culture where the murder rate is seven times the white murder rate and the illegitimacy rate is 78%. The data suggest that’s a bad thing.  

36 thoughts on “Why do black African immigrants do better than American-born blacks?

  1. “The most dangerous type of person in America is the white liberal.” – Malcolm X
    Is it only irony that the ‘projects’ are funded by liberal tax dollars, with a 99% chance of never being able to escape it?

  2. Have heard it from other blacks who were born outside the USA…. the answer is that we have spoiled them…we give them everything… and we do not expect them to lift themselves us.
    They have no need to work

  3. The United States’ history of our racial past has managed to produce the best place on the planet for black people despite all our many egregious errors…more black people doing better than anywhere else. If you dispute that assessment, then name a better place? Blacks are swarming to get in here, and no discernible move for those here to go anywhere else. Why is that? You know the answer — there is no better place.

    As alluded in the article, the problem is the black sub-culture in the U.S. It despoils even the black Africans’ progeny who move here.

  4. Censorship much? THAT’S the problem here.. One can’t tell the truth about ANYTHING with communistic censorship PREVENTING the truth from being told… Censorship is the most UNAMERICAN practice Americans can perpetrate on a presumably, (Except we AREN’T a Free people when our own MEDIA CENSORS our FIRST AMENDMENT rights), FREE people.. A person’s FEELINGS do not abrogate First Amendment rights. Only unAmerican people do that. A site INVITES comments with a “comment section” but one can only say what the comment policy ALLOWS the same as communist and socialist coutries! THAT’S censorship and ANTI FIRST AMENDENT…. Better to NOT HAVE a comment section than to practice suppressive censorship as is done in SLAVE societies. Those who practice censorship have no right to Any American privilege and are to be detested and despised!….

  5. Contrary to Liberal orthodoxy, cultures are NOT equal. Some do better than others. Cultures that value learning do well. Cultures that value family do well.

  6. I have taught children who immigrated from Africa with their parents, side by side with African-American students and noticed a difference right away. Their FATHERS, as well as their mothers, were involved with their education, came to the conferences, asked questions and made it clear they were expecting their children to work hard. There is a cultural divide where the African American students so often, not always, but overwhelmingly, did not have that support for education in their families. It’s not a color, it’s a culture that holds them back, the same as many European American students who had little family structure, or low expectations from care-givers whose lives were in disorder. Children need expectations, rules and structure to succeed. African American students who were successful had a mom, a grandma, someone, who was giving them that and making them accountable for their own progress.

    • It is as simple, and OBVIOUS, as bmarie states in the above post. It is that simple. So why is there any controversy about LBJ and his Democrat goons having produced the Black welfare-dependency culture that is hurting Blacks to the point of producing this dysfunctional black culture?
      Do Black lives matter? Apparently the Black immigrants scrambling to get into the United States believe that Black lives, at least their own, DO matter.
      So, how then, do we convince the killers in Chicago that Black lives, those of their neighbors, DO matter? Huh? How?

    • You’ve apparently haven’t looked at all that many immigrant groups. My parents were immigrants in the late 1930’s. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are doing quite well.

    • Ab-so-lutely!
      Economists have done studies on the impact LBJ’s wonder program had on black families. Not hard to find.

      Shining example of the Dem’s not understanding human motivation when they try to “help” a target population. Current model is paying people extra to not work.

  7. Anecdotal evidence:

    Fifteen years ago my wife and I and gave room and board to a student-athlete and his wife from Cameroon. Fluent in French, quite good with English, he was ready for calculus, but his wrestling coach, anxious that he maintain his academic eligibility, wanted to place him in basic math which, of course, would have been challenging enough for an average African-American student. We had to fight hard to get him enrolled in calculus. He wound up with a doctorate in physical therapy.

    The irony is the inverse relationship between education (good in Cameroon, bad in America) and opportunity (very limited in Cameroon, far more promising in America).

    By the way, he didn’t much care for black Americans.

    • I neglected to mention that our Cameroon couple were and are traditional Catholics, whose spirituality was flavored ever so remotely and subtly by a cultural animism predating French colonial days. In short, they recognized the reality of evil and possessed a profound reverence for the good — something found to this degree in roughly only 20-30% of America’s Catholics, of any color. Think this has something to do with one’s work ethic, and with the moral fabric of our society?

      • JMJ
        Thanks for your testimony, wonderful and very believable.
        God is good!
        We will win!

  8. Two reasons. First, they’ve not grown up in a culture that constantly told them that there was no need to succeed; that the state would take care of them from cradle to grave. Second, because they came from countries where real efforts to keep them down routinely included death; not just self-induced pity parties.

  9. Culture is important, but why do some cultures value education and other cultures do not? Could it be that racial/ethnic groups who are above average in IQ (i.e. Ashkenazi Jews, NE Asians, Northern Europeans) tend to do well in school and high cognitive load professions that make it relatively easy and valuable for them to study, while racial/ethnic groups who are below average in IQ (i.e. blacks, Hispanics, SW Asians, Middle-Eastern Muslims, Southern Europeans) find that even if they study hard they tend to be at the bottom of their class and struggle in high cognitive load professions that make it difficult and less valuable for them to study? Of course within any group there is a great deal of variance in IQ so that there are relatively smart and stupid members in each group, and recent immigrants and people on student visas from Africa and other low IQ places are often the cream of the crop (aka selection effect) and can do well when given a good opportunity. India provides an excellent example, because India itself is pretty much a basket case country with an average IQ of somewhere in the mid 80s, but Indian immigrants to the US have an average IQ of 105-110 and are the highest earning immigrant group in the US. Now imagine the children of immigrants from “victim” class races who are told in school and in popular media and by Democrats that they are victims of white oppression and that the system is rigged against them, and that they deserve reparations, affirmative action, welfare, and that they shouldn’t adopt white values such as studying hard, working hard, or striving to succeed – imagine what that does to their “culture”? And lets not forget about the people in low IQ countries who are left behind as their best and brightest emigrate to developed countries for better opportunities – no amount of foreign aid or school building is going to fix their situation.

  10. Back in the ’90’s I taught in an inner city middle school. (95% black). We had one 7th grade student who I will call “Theo” (not his real complete name.) who was a real handful. He was
    already mouthing the platitudes about how the white man went to Africa and ruined the blacks, etc. etc. etc. I made the remark that if both of us went to Africa, they would keep me (mixed white/Mexican) and throw him out. Astonished he asked why and I said because I had a skill, ( I am bilingual and hav a degree in education,) so I could teach. Then I asked, “What do you have other than an attitude?”

    Later, I was talking to one of our permanent substitute teachers who was from Nigeria. I recounted the incident and asked if I was off base telling Theo what I said. He said no, I was exactly correct. Then he recounted this (I’m paraphrasing just a little) (Note: the man was well acquainted with Theo).

    He said, in his perfectly clipped British accent, “Do you know what we would do with Theo in Nigeria? At the first sign of trouble we would take off his shirt and hold him face down on a table, one man holding his wrists and another holding his ankles. Then he would be caned ten times. If Theo so much as cried out or lifted his head, we would STAHT AHLL OVAH!”

  11. Agreed with most all; we’ve seen it here in Summit County. Blacks from Africa, working hard, are pleasant to deal with. Educated American blacks are fine too. It’s the bulk of the others that have been causing all the problems.

  12. It always comes down to Nature/Nurture. Yes, there are clearly environmental factors involved (i.e., government funded indolence, social/peer pressures, etc.) but these overlay genetic factors. On average, sub-Saharan African IQ is two standard deviations below European and East Asian. Those sub-Saharan Africans who choose to emigrate to the West are typically those inhabiting the right side of the bell curve of IQ distribution, thus being more inclined to work to succeed, as well as being intellectually equipped to do so. However, regression to the mean in the next generation results in the offspring of these superior sub-Saharans lacking their parents’ intelligence, drive, etc. They are then surrounded by native American blacks and adopt their social mores and attitudes. The same holds true for immigrants from the Middle East (not including Jews, whose genetic make-up is sui generis). The average IQ of this population is about one standard deviation below European/East Asian. The first generation is typically more intelligent, hard-working and diligent, but their offspring regress to the mean, and absorb the anti-American attitudes of their peers. Ditto immigrants from Central America and South Asia. It is for these reasons that ALL immigration from Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Central America must either be curtailed or we shall be witnesses to the end of America as we knew it. Frankly, I see no possibility that this immigration will be curtailed at this point in time; to the contrary, the current regime, composed of communists, socialists, racialist hate-mongers and their white enablers seeks to increase the volume and pace of this inflow. It is my most fervent hope, however that the eventual working-out of this demographic disaster will not occur in my lifetime or that of my children. As for my grandchildren, I am not very sanguine.

    • You make some legitimate points, Ed, but I take issue with a couple.

      First, while there’s certainly a strong genetic component to IQ, it is not IQ that determines success for a modern human. The average modern job doesn’t exactly require the IQ of Elon Musk or Bill Gates. The average modern job requires only that you show up. (I’m firmly convinced that automation and industrialization has dumbed down all of humanity. We’re stupider now than the Romans were, for sure. But I’m getting off point.)

      Second, there’s an internal contradiction in your argument. You argue on the one hand that it’s genetics that is responsible for IQ (and, as I’ve acknowledged, there certainly is a genetic component) but then you argue on the other hand that the children of smart-ish immigrants “regress to the mean” on the IQ scale in just one generation.

      If IQ is genetically determined, then the children should usually be smart too. In fact, the children should be even smarter than the parents because the children typically will be the children of TWO smart parents (because smart people tend to marry other smart people).

      It’s complicated. And I think it’s dangerous to make broad policy on the basis of disparities in tested IQ among the races. I have no doubt that if IQ tests had been in existence in the 1800’s, the Irish would have done quite poorly. And I have little doubt that the tested IQ of Chinese peasants would not be too hot even today.

      I’d like to see us focus less on IQ, which is difficult to fairly assess in groups from different backgrounds and has limited impact on an average modern person’s performance in society, and instead focus more on culture. Today, we have a serious problem in American black culture — a problem that is much more serious than whatever IQ issues are raised. In a nutshell, the problem with American black culture is that they don’t even show up.

      But, fortunately, that cultural problem is perhaps easier to solve. American black culture was fine in 1950. The decline occurred almost entirely after Great Society programs perversely incentivized destructive behavior. Getting the incentives and disincentives straightened out would go a long way to saving American black culture — and America as a whole.

      • Completely agree. As an old teacher friend used to say of a given student, “He has plenty of IQ, not enough “I will.”

      • Actually regression to the mean is a widely accepted concept in IQ research. There is some natural variability in the IQ of individuals so that siblings with the same parents do not share the same IQ or the same IQ as their parents. Thus the lucky offspring of parents who have an average IQ of 100 might have an IQ of 120, but is also very likely to have offspring themselves with a lower than 120 IQ. People born with an IQ above their group median will tend to have smart kids, but not as smart as themselves. This means the sharp immigrant from low IQ Africa, Latin America, or the Middle East who arrives as a “diversity” scholarship student to the US might do very well because they have the intelligence and drive to take advantage of the opportunities, but that their offspring will most likely not be quite as smart and struggle to do as well and fall into the victim mentality.

        You are correct that Irish immigrants probably had below average IQ, but that was likely environmental because of the poor childhood diet (potato famine, etc.), which along with childhood stress and exposure to lead are the most well documented environmental sources of reduced IQ. Thus as poor diets and lead exposure have become much less widespread problems there has been some closure in racial/ethnic IQ levels, the gaps that remain are likely mostly genetic because even poor children in developed countries get adequate childhood nutrition and have less exposure to lead. It is important to note that eliminating lead exposure, poor nutrition, and stress will not make low IQ people into high IQ people, but will merely allow them to reach their full IQ potential, which might still be below 100.

        IQ is unpopular among the Left because there is nothing that has been found that can raise low IQ besides discouraging low IQ people from having children. In other words, pre-school programs don’t work, better schools don’t work, affirmative action and racial quotas don’t work, school lunch programs don’t work, and better parenting doesn’t work. No doubt the Great Society programs have hurt the work culture of blacks and probably increased childhood stress by breaking down the black two-parent family, but in a modern economy there just aren’t many well paid jobs available for people with below average IQ not matter how hard they work because they just can’t be very productive compared to smarter co-workers or machines, which means importing millions of people from low IQ countries is going to be a disaster for developed countries. Unfortunately, while there is little that society or individuals can do about low IQ, but sadly it seems to be equally impossible to shut down the culture damaging elements of the modern welfare state.

      • Ed, you’re applying the large-pool data-set concept of regression to the mean to a very small data set — a single pair of parents and their children.

        Here’s the analogy. If you’re drawing playing cards out of a deck, and the first 5 draws are face cards, for a 100% face card draw rate, then you might expect that over time as you draw another 10-20 cards, you’d regress to the mean and wind up with something closer to the ordinary face card draw rate.

        But if you remove most of the non-face cards from the deck, there will be no regression to the mean. Your draws will continue to be mostly face cards.

        In IQ, if both parents have high IQ genes, then their children are likely to inherit those genes. That’s not to say the children will be exactly as smart, since there are factors in IQ other than genes, and sometime there are genes in the parents that were unexpressed. But my point is valid that the offspring of high IQ parents are not likely to have merely the IQ corresponding to their skin color.

        Here’s another factor, related to the first: To the extent there is a regression to the mean in the children of high IQ parents, there is not a further regression to the mean in the grandchildren. The “regression” in the the grandchildren is in regard to a subset of the original population. In other words, the “regression” in the grandchildren is not to the IQ corresponding to their skin color, but to the IQ of the subset of their parents and grandparents.

        This is explained in this article in Discover Magazine. https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/a-mediocre-mans-great-son-a-great-mans-mediocre-son As the article notes in conclusion, if your concept of regression to the mean were accurate, then there would be no evolution because natural selection would be constantly thwarted in each new generation by “regression to the mean.”

        OK, now let’s put aside for a moment the heritability of IQ and natural selection. It’s my contention that the problem of black underachievement has very little to do with IQ, and everything to do with culture. A difference of 10 points in IQ does not account for a 7x difference in murder rates. Moreover, this isn’t just theory. Before Great Society programs destroyed black culture, the murder rate and illegitimacy rates were similar to whites.

        By the way, there are plenty of reasonably well-paying jobs that do not require high IQ. And there are many, many jobs that pay above the poverty line that do not require high IQ. Most trade jobs fall into that category. But such jobs DO require the job-holder to show up for work.

      • This issue goes back to the post Civil Rights movement in the formation of Black Nationalism where today separate but equal is revived as well as any of us who lived through it virtually anything Black got pushed to the forefront of Entertainment/Popular Culture without critique. When I saw Run DMC and Areosmith do a Rap version of Walk This Way, my first exposure, I was not moved to adopt it but I said to myself this is pushing the Thug Criminal Lifestyle as legitimate, I don’t think this will end well, look where it has gone. At the same time we criminal behavior became a Race issue over a behavior issue. We’ve tossed Western Culture under the bus and is considered Racist, if you put on a Dashiki you’re guilty of Cultural Appropriation but an African playing a piano or guitar (White European inventions) appropriation disappears. We’ve let to many contradictory things to be standards of our society.
        Mr. Beaton to you specifically “The average modern job requires only that you show up. (I’m firmly convinced that automation and industrialization has dumbed down all of humanity.” Automation requires Tooling, a pet peeve of mine, is how little educated people know of how things are made and all Industry resembles WWII Rosie the Riveter type Floor Workers, pushing stuff down the line. There is automation but there is the people that must repair and set up and invent the automation. I remember an LA area Gay Conservative talk show host that was all for Tennis Shoe production going off shore saying that California was going to be Hi-Tech. He has no clue to the sophistication of the machinery it takes to quickly and accurately produce the shoes. Our intellectual betters should have learned this lesson by now yet here we are. As a Journeyman Mold Maker with a 12th grade education I won a lot more arguments with Engineers than I lost.

    • You might be right to some degree, even a considerable degree, but you’ve gone a bridge too far in your Cartesian logic. It’s a white cultural defect, not personal. But it’s one I don’t have because I have an IQ of 138 and I grew up in the bottom two percent of family income for white families. The experience leaves you with a different perspective.

  13. Sadly much of black America made a bargain with the Devil in the 1960s … in this case the Devil was the 36th U.S. President.

    “I’ll have those n*****s voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

    ― President Lyndon B. Johnson

    A couple more relevant quotes …

    “We waged a war on poverty and poverty won.”

    ― President Ronald Reagan, 1988 State of the Union Address

    “If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.”

    ― Dr. Thomas Sowell, Professor of Economics







    • Lyndon Johnson was a crudenik who said a lot of thing. One of them was that after he signed the civil rights bill, which was understood in the moment only to end segregation in public accommodations and ban discrimination in employment and academic admissions for qualified people, he said, “We’ve lost the South for two generations.

      In the subsequent election, Johnson won Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas at a time when black voter participation was very low in these states.

      The optics of the antiwar movement and the hippie movement, the political rioting in the streets in Chicago in 1968, and the rise of the McGovernite wing of the Democratic Party had a lot more to do with turning the white South Republican than the civil right law did. White Southerners accepted the end of the extremes of legal racial segregation. For one thing, they got tired of being kept down economically by the Democrats. The economic disparity between the South and the rest of the country has closed greatly since the rise of Southern Republicanism.

      A lot of things went into the current state of social dysfunction we now have. Don’t blame LBJ for everything.

  14. This short article raises interesting, potentially profound questions. Might be best to live inside the questions for a few years instead of spouting ready-made answers. Learning always (yes, ALWAYS) comes from not already knowing.

    • We’ve been “living inside the questions” for 4-5 decades, since The Great Society launch. How many more years would you like in which to discover the patently obvious?

  15. And , of course, the general American progressive culture of debasement of values which history proves worked well is also affecting the success of Caucasian progeny

    • Let’s just say it: values that worked well (not perfectly, but reasonably well) were Judao-Christian values. Progressive values such as “diversity,” “multiculturalism,” “inclusiveness,” “choice” and “equity” are culture-smashers and civilization-breakers. “Critical thinking” ceased to be meaningfully “critical” as soon as we started subjecting everything to “values clarification,” which put an end to moral “absolutes” around which a society can cohere.


  17. Thomas Sowell pointed out that today’s urban Black culture is merely “cracker or redneck culture” transported up North. Cracker Culture is not known for hard work values and sobriety.

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