Demographic fun

Here are two graphics, from the New York Times and The Guardian, which selectively present some data.

What do you think of the data?
Why did the Guardian leave out what it did?
Why did the New York Times leave out what it did?
When you combine the data and analyze it together, what can you learn?

(Thanks to Steve Sailer for the pointers; he gives his own answers to my questions on his blog today.)


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17 Responses to Demographic fun

  1. rebelliousvanilla says:

    It’s obvious – Mexico is left out. It’s no wonder Europe does so horribly – education is designed to make people equal and shit.

  2. Polymath says:

    Yes, but there are other things going on too. I’ll have some things to say tomorrow on this: it’s fun to put the numbers into a spreadsheet and look for other patterns.

  3. FortitudineVincimus says:

    Turkey, as well.

    Finland do all right. Then again, all Finish teachers, even in Elementary School, have at least undergraduate degrees in the field they are teaching. Same can’t be said for Denmark.

  4. rebelliousvanilla says:
    Polymath, if you want to have a laugh, read my comments. From now on, this is the treatment that liberals will get from me. lol

  5. Polymath says:

    The NY Times took the top 32 performers in each category. This completely left out Spain, Israel, Turkey, Chile, and Mexico. The Guardian only showed OECD current and pending members — this left out non-members who scored high enough to make the NYT list, namely Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Liechtenstein, Macau, and Latvia. The only missing number from any of these countries when you combine the data is Latvia’s math score (which was 482).

    You can see all the results, including the countries both the NY Times and the Guardian left out, and results for individual Canadian provinces, on Statistics Canada’s website here.

    Lithuania, Croatia, and Russia were the top 3 countries not included on either the NY Times or the Guardian lists, in all 3 categories. The bottom 5 of the European sublist was exactly the same in all 3 categories, Serbia-Bulgaria-Romania-Montenegro-Albania in that order.

    The relevant data is in Tables B.1.1, B.2.1, and B.2.2 .

  6. rebelliousvanilla says:

    I’m not surprised considering the amount of idiocy in the way the Romanian educational system is organized. Soviet style 1950s teaching methods, without any teaching standards = epic fail.

  7. Polymath says:

    Sailer has some new data, which he unearthed after a great struggle circumventing the barriers the U.S. Government has put in the way to prevent Americans from noticing that black students aren’t as smart as white students.

    You can temporarily see his article here

    PISA Scores Show Demography Is Destiny In Education Too—But Washington Doesn’t Want You To Know

    but because is in the middle of a fundraiser it will not be there for long, though it will be available after the fundraiser runs its course. (I copied the pictures and am hosting them here so they won’t disappear.)

    Some quotes from Steve’s article:

    Asian Americans outscored every Asian country, and lost out only to the city of Shanghai, China’s financial capital.

    White Americans students outperformed the national average in every one of the 37 historically white countries tested, except Finland (which is, perhaps not coincidentally, an immigration restrictionist nation where whites make up about 99 percent of the population).

    Hispanic Americans beat all eight Latin American countries.

    (Ed: African-Americans didn’t do badly by world standards — there aren’t any sub-Saharan African countries to compare their results to, but they beat out Bulgaria and Romania.)

    Why does my second graph have to compare reading scores from 2009 to science scores from 2006 and math scores from 2003? Because PISA and the U.S. government apparently conspire to keep the ethnic breakdowns of American scores a secret, except for whichever subject is the main theme of that year’s PISA (reading in 2009, science in 2006, and math in 2003). Thus the only American scores broken down by ethnicity yet released for 2009 were for reading. Yet all three subjects are tested each year, and scores for all subjects are released in mind-numbing detail cross-tabbed for every conceivable factor … except race.

    my top chart does not offer a true apples-to-apples comparison of whites in America to whites in other traditionally white countries. For example, New Zealand whites scored 541 on reading in 2009, 16 points above American whites. But the Kiwis’ national scores are dragged down somewhat by the indigenous Maori and by Pacific Islander immigrants, who do more for the current competitiveness of New Zealand’s national rugby team than for the future competitiveness of its 21st Century economy. (By the way, unlike Arne Duncan’s Department of Education, New Zealand’s Ministry of Education has released its 2009 scores by ethnicity not just for reading, but also for math—Kiwi whites averaged an impressive 537 in 2009—and science—an excellent 555. This is how we can conclude that responsibility for stonewalling the release of two-thirds of American scores by race is the choice of the U.S. government, rather than of PISA.

    Bottom line: Keeping the U.S. globally competitive turns out to depend less upon our endlessly-discussed need to “fix the schools “and more upon the need to “fix the demographic trends”. But this topic currently unmentionable in public debate and, for many in public life, literally unthinkable. It might even lead to Americans doing something about immigration policy.

  8. Considering that here schools just teach you binge drinking, I’m not surprised. 😀 The whole education system here should be abolished since it provides no benefits.

    Basically, everyone here knows what they do in spite of the system, which is amusing because it does a huge triage among the haves and have nots in terms of intelligence. This is why if you’re average, you’ll turn out dumb, if you’re smart, you’ll turn out well. This is why we get to do well in international contests, but horribly in terms of averages.

    Why didn’t you post a graph with the three scores averaged out though? 🙂

    Here, to exemplify what I said. When I was in high-school, Romania won all the awards, including the honorable mentions, except one once. I don’t have the name of the contest, but there was an engineering one for students in CZ and Romania won all the three places. Obviously, I know some of the people who won and they’re the biggest class skippers ever and learned all of the stuff they did in their free time, not at school.

    I went to some inter school contests and I was learning the stuff for them in my spare time instead of playing, not at school. I’m glad the government is wasting 5-6% of GDP on the educational system though.

  10. “Global Data Modeling Competition

    Congratulations to the 6th Annual Global Data Modeling Competition winners!

    1st Place – Mioara Gheorghe: Colegiul National Mihai Viteazu in Romania
    2nd Place – Emanuela Cerchez: Liceul De Informatica Grigore C Moisil in Romania
    3rd Place – Livia Toca: Colegiul National Tudor Vianu in Romania

    Honorable Mention- Corina Achinca: Colegiul National Tudor Vianu in Romania
    Honorable Mention- Rodica Smintina: Coleguil National Gheorghe Sincai in Romania
    Honorable Mention- Ioana Lukacs: Liceul Teoretic Mihai Eminescu Hunedoara Gaita in Romania

    This was back when I was in HS. Also, sadly, I suppose a lot of it has to do with the communists killing off intelligent people too because they were not equal.

  11. Polymath says:

    The graphs come from Sailer, I’m just mirroring them here because might take them down.

    For now the Sailer article is here:

    and he links to a bunch of sources for more data.

  12. Polymath says:

    Good discussion at Sailer’s blog, I just cross-posted a link back here excerpting RV’s remarks about Romanian performance since people there were wondering about that. Here is a GREAT web page which allows you to explore the PISA database with structured queries:

    National Center for Education Statistics: International Data Explorer

  13. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Also, I don’t think that more than 80% of the people entering school now are actually Romanian. lol

  14. Polymath says:

    Here’s some more good analysis, someone compared non-Hispanic white Americans with Europeans who were not first or second generation immigrants:

    The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia.

    Main conclusions I draw: U.S. schools spend a huge amount but are better than most, and all the stories saying the PISA tests indicate the U.S. education system is bad are worthless. Also, the gap between immigrants and natives is MUCH smaller in English-speaking countries.

  15. rebelliousvanilla says:

    How did he exclude first and 2nd generation immigrants and mixed people? :/

  16. Polymath says:

    Apparently while the American version of the test asked about race and not nationality, the Europeans asked about national origin (birthplace of students and their parents), which meant he could get roughly comparable samples of 15-year-olds: his data includes non-Hispanic white Americans whose families moved here recently, and non-White Europeans whose parents were born in Europe, but those are both small remnants compared to the excluded Blacks and Hispanics and Asians in America, and compared to the excluded immigrants and children of immigrants in Europe.

  17. rob says:

    The Libertarians have been making this point for years, and readily admit US Educators overmatch their competitors, especilly when you realize they a) Don’t account for private schools, and b) Often compare e.g. US 9th graders to Euro 11th graders or South Korean elite schools.

    For some of the work they’re doing, see

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