Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Confusing cause and effect: wealth and education

How income varies among U.S. religious groups | Pew Research Center  ranks US religious groups by their wealth and states reasonably, "While there is a strong and proven correlation between education and income, it’s harder to know whether there also is a link between religion and wealth." But Pew links to a New York Times article titled A Simple Equation: More Education = More Income, which reverses cause and effect. The simple truth: rich people can afford more education than poor people, and the richer religious groups line up with the richer groups of immigrants.

When I made the comment about immigrants and wealth on Facebook, someone said that seemed counter-intuitive. I replied:
It ain't cheap to become an American. First generation people in the tech industry tend to be people who had the resources to get a good education before coming here.
The 5 Minute Guide On How To Emigrate To America notes,
For those with an American spouse or family member the process is not difficult. There are also many annual visas awarded to people with special skills and work experience in certain fields that have a shortage of labour. The US uses a point system to categorise long-term visa applicants based on a number of factors including level of education, nationality and work experience. But for the average person with no desirable skills, family connections of considerable cash to invest in America it will be a long and frustrating process to get a permanent resident visa.
As you'd expect in capitalist countries, immigration is easiest for the rich. What is immigration like for wealthy/rich people? points out,
A number of countries essentially will sell immigration access to the wealthy, by offering immigrant status either for a flat out fee, or for a promise to invest in a business and create jobs.   The USA, Canada and many other nations have done this.
The EB-5 Visa Program Allows 10,000 Wealthy Foreigners to Buy Citizenship Each Year starts with an example:
The massive $20 billion Hudson Yards project is one of the nation’s biggest development efforts. When it’s completed on New York’s west side, it will have have 5,000 apartments, six skyscrapers, and pneumatic tubes for trash disposal. And one more feature of the project: It has paved the way for the green cards of about 1,200 Chinese millionaires.
Perhaps the easiest way to recognize the wealthiest immigrants is to notice which groups were most able to start businesses and which groups most likely to sell their labor. White people are probably the greatest mix in this regard—in some parts of the country, like Appalachia, you can find descendants of indentured servants who were never able to escape generational poverty. That's why, as Walter Benn Michaels notes,
White people ... make up about 70 per cent of the US population, and 62 per cent of those in the bottom quintile.
 In one discussion of the Pew article, Abu Noaman asked,
Do you have the income data for Muslim immigrants vs. non immigrants? I ask because most recent immigrant Muslims I know appear to be quite well off, but African American Muslims (40% of all Muslims in America) are not.
I replied,
African American Muslims are mostly descended from slaves who never got their 40 acres and a mule to have a basis for building wealth. Muslims from the Middle East tend to be people who met the wealth requirements to move here.
The poorest American group, of course, are American Indians, the people who owned this entire continent before they were dispossessed of its wealth. Native American religions don't get a spot on Pew's ranking of wealth and religion. But it's easy to guess where they would fall.

Related blog posts:

Wealth in the USA by race, religion, and gender

Why identitarians are offended by discussing the whiteness of Jews