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Asians - 70% of a future US brain power?

  1. Dec 12, 2011 #1


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    So, in another thread I found a link to results of 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology:


    Apparently competition is held in US. Out of 20 winners 14 are Asians - 70% (that is assuming Vickram Gidwani counts as Asian as well). Yet wiki lists Asians as about 5% of US population. Is it just a statistical fluke, or something more? I have heard about kids of fresh Asian immigrants working much harder in schools than their peers, is it showing here?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
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  3. Dec 12, 2011 #2


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    Because of US immigration policies which favor workers in jobs requiring high levels to technical expertise and education, most of these Asian-Americans are children of parents with advanced degrees and jobs in science and technology fields. So, there is quite a significant selection bias in the population of Asians in the US.
  4. Dec 12, 2011 #3
    Yes. Asians have a very different education ethic than Americans. This is part of their culture, it's taught to kids at home. Math is considered almost a basic life skill. The Asian parent is much more likely to supervise their childrens' homework and be continually insistent they bring home good grades. Asian kids are also steered into higher paid specialties by their parents. They value economic success and therefore whatever tools and skills contribute to that success. Asians are going to be important contributors in America's future.
  5. Dec 12, 2011 #4

    I like Serena

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    I remember an earlier research that showed that the Japanese had an IQ that was on average 11 points higher than an American on a comparable test.
    The suggested explanation was that Japanese children had to learn the ideographic alphabet at an early age, making them better at recognizing patterns.

    I wonder if that is applicable here as well...
  6. Dec 12, 2011 #5
    http://cimm.ucr.ac.cr/ciaem/articulos/evaluacion/internacionales/The%20mathematics%20student%20education%20in%20japan:%20a%20comparision%20with%20united%20states%20mathematics%20programs.*Mastrull,%20Sarah.*Mastrull%20S.%20The%20Mathematics%20Edication%20of%20Students%20in%20Japan.%20.pdf [Broken] may be useful:


    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Dec 12, 2011 #6

    Chi Meson

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    In this regard, do Indians/Pakistanis count as Asians? I prefer to leave such check boxes blank, but if so, then I have a disproportionate number of Asians in my Physics classes and an extremely disproportionate number of Asians on my robotics team. I think it has always been the case that 1st-generation Americans have more "drive" thanks to recently immigrated parents. I tell you, I'm impressed by their work ethic, but it is nothing that is racially exclusive for sure.
  8. Dec 12, 2011 #7
    I don't believe so.

    This doesn't hold for Mexicans, for example. Contrary to stereotype, Mexicans are actually very hard workers, and, of course, they flock to the US in droves. The unfortunate thing is that they don't have any historical cultural inclination to education at all. What they're taught at home is "Take any job you can get, hold on to it, and stay out of trouble." There's no internal pressure to get an education, or even to learn English. I think, in fact, in most Mexican's minds education is inextricably linked to wealth; wealth has to precede education, education is a luxury afforded by wealth.
  9. Dec 12, 2011 #8
    In some way it is, it's hard to pursue an education if you don't have money to eat. And many mexicans are really poor, asians are a little(the immigrants) more wealthy in general.
    When really poor indians immigrate to the USA they normally end up as taxi drivers instead of doctors.
  10. Dec 12, 2011 #9
    I worked in a US maquilladora in Mexico for 5 years alongside both US and Mexican engineers. The difference between the two was striking. The US engineers were generally better educated but not necessarily more intelligent. They liked to stand around discussing ideas, sometimes work related, sometimes not. The Mexican engineers, instead of talking about solutions, went to work trying them out. Most of the new ideas came from the US engineers but they got implemented by the Mexican engineers.

    A middle manager of mine once hypothesized that the reason the US is so innovative is because of its diversity, that the diversity permits a wider range of viewpoints and ideas for solving problems.
  11. Dec 12, 2011 #10
    I'm really talking about the children of the direct immigrants. Public school education is free up through high school, and it is, in fact, legally required. Illegal Mexicans suffer terribly from not being legal; they cannot take advantage of a lot of public services.

    I, myself, went to an essentially free trade school (had to pay for books and some tools, is all) and most of my class mates were the poor asian kids who spoke bad English whose families were probably rural farmers back in asia. Even those families realized that being an electrician or welder was superior to working an assembly line or at McDonalds. The kids of those electricians and welders are, I'm sure, going to go to college and be pushed into engineering or medicine or law. Not so with Mexicans. There is a tremendous cultural inertia against upward mobility which seems to span generations. I think in Mexico there is an informal caste system, a separation of the wealthy from the poor that they all learn to think of as intrinsic.
  12. Dec 12, 2011 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    These statements both agree with my experiences as well. But there is also a driver on the low end of the economic spectrum, which was easily seen with the Vietnamese immigrants after the war. Those who first landed here had nothing but the shirts on their backs. Then, before too long, they owned businesses, and it became common to see several Vietnamese families living together in a reasonably nice neighborhood. In as little as perhaps ten years, many had achieved upper-middle-class status. All along these folks [the ones that I knew, knew of, and went to college with for a time] worked and studied like slaves. Their drive and strict work ethic allowed them to climb the economic ladder quickly.

    I have also seen how once the parents are successful, the children of immigrants tend to lose that drive and blend right in.
  13. Dec 12, 2011 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Btw, obvlously one competition doesn't qualify as a reference. It could have easily been geographically biased, income biased, culturally biased, etc.
  14. Dec 12, 2011 #13
    In real life it is actually very difficult to find a "lazy" Mexican. I suppose there are some, but they don't represent the norm.

    Immigrants to the US are an endless source of fascination to me. The original British culture has always been dominant here but it's always been challenged by an influx of everything else. I have no idea what it might be like to have grown up in a mono-cultural country.
  15. Dec 12, 2011 #14
    Yeah, I've seen this too in a couple cases: completely Americanized.
  16. Dec 12, 2011 #15


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    Apparently yes, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_people

    FWIW those groups are what most people in the UK would think of as "Asians", rather than people from the Far East.
  17. Dec 12, 2011 #16
    Well, I can't contribute much to this thread topic as I am in the UK, but I am Asian myself (Chinese). Education is hugely emphasised in our culture as one reason; our parents and grandparents etc lived with little wealth and had to work very hard for little means (such as a farmer or food business more commonly now), so they base success on materialistic gain and respected career titles, as ultimately the idea is more wealth = higher living standard (Children are also expected to pay for their parents living when they are working). Also, as stated, a 'respected' career titles is important because the children are carrying on the family name.
    Of course there are more reasons, but these are the two off the top of my head.
  18. Dec 12, 2011 #17
    Hah! That's about as beautiful a failure of a classification system as I've ever seen!
  19. Dec 12, 2011 #18
    I understand, I'm not american so I can't really say too much.
    Although I have a Mexican name I'm brazilian and the same happens here, Brazil is home to the greatest number of japanese immigrants in the world and it seems nearly impossible to find a japanese here that is poor and without college education.
    BUT although I may be biased(don't take that as my final conclusion) I've seen that some of the younger asians(japanese) don't take study as seriously as their parents did.
    I had some asian friends in college and although their parents were all great engineers, professors and scientists they were slackers.
    It seems that having money, sometimes, take away that drive to study and work hard.
    It also goes to show that it isn't just genetics, but something cultural.
  20. Dec 12, 2011 #19
    Asia is a geographical term (continent ) rather than a ethnic or cultural classification. Asia consists of many countries which have different cultural , ethnic or religious background.
  21. Dec 12, 2011 #20
    The bulk of Asians in the US are Chinese and Southeast Asians. There are actually very few Japanese, except in Hawaii. The other Asians come to escape economic and political situations. There is nothing so pressing in Japan to escape from. I'm guessing the Japanese in Brazil represent the wealthier ones who move there for the luxury of a better climate, rather for the same reason they move to Hawaii, but that's a guess.
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