Appendix A: Current and Historical Estimates of American Jewish Population

Much of the our analysis is based on the per capita performance or representation of different groups, now and in the past, and such calculations obviously depend upon the population sizes of the groups in question.  For some racial or ethnic groups such as Asians, Hispanics, or non-Hispanic whites, these population figures are relatively easy to obtain from the official Census data, which also provides good numbers for various ethnic subpopulations such as Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese.

However, such official data does not exist in the case of America’s Jewish population, forcing us to rely upon the estimates produced by independent researchers, mostly employed at Jewish universities or thinktanks, and these inevitably contain a significant degree of uncertainty.

Three of the research reports which I have used as my main sources have been:

 “Jewish Population in the United States, 2011,”  Ira Sheshkin and Arnold Dashefsky, Current Jewish Population Reports, Number 4 – 2011, published by the North American Jewish Data Bank of the Berman Institute of the University of Connecticut.

Estimating the Jewish Population of the United States: 2000-2010,”  Elizabeth Tighe et al., December 2011, published by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute of Brandeis University.

The National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01”, United Jewish Communities Report, September 2003.

These figures tend to be somewhat larger than the “Core Jewish Population” sometimes cited in other sources, which refers to individuals of Jewish ancestry who self-identify as Jewish. For example, the total figure of 6.59 million is a million or more higher than various other estimates.

For historical values, I am relying on the numbers for each decade provided by the Jewish Virtual Library, and based on the research provided by the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Jewish Committee, and various other Jewish organizations. For those decades in which a range is provided, I am using the midpoint of that range, and also applying linear interpolations between the specified years. As the research reports I have consulted indicate and the stated ranges imply, the size of the American Jewish population is usually uncertain to within five or ten percent.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/usjewpop1.html

Estimated Historical Jewish Population of the United States

Year Jewish Estimate (1000s) US Total (1000s) Midpoint Jewish Percentages
1900 938-1,058 76,094 1.3%
1910 1,508-2,350 92,407 2.1%
1920 3,300-3,605 106,461 3.2%
1927 4,228 119,035 3.6%
1937 4,641-4,831 128,825 3.7%
1940 4,770-4,975 132,122 3.7%
1950 4,500-5,000 152,271 3.1%
1960 5,367-5,532 180,671 3.0%
1970 5,370-6,000 205,052 2.8%
1980 5,500-5,921 227,225 2.5%
1992 5,828 255,030 2.3%
2009 6,544 306,772 2.1%
2011 6,588 311,592 2.1%

Given the small and uncertain size of America’s Jewish population during most of the last half-century, more precise demographic details are unlikely to exist, including estimates of the 18-21 college-age cohort. However, according to these midpoint national range estimates, the Jewish population between 1970 and 2011 ranged between about 3.05% and 3.35% of the total non-Hispanic white population. Therefore, since the median age of the Jewish population has been reasonably close to that of non-Hispanic whites in general, for the purposes of Appendix B I have approximated the Jewish college-age cohorts during these decades as a fixed 3.20% of their non-Hispanic white counterparts nationally. Prior to 1970, such relationships seem less certain, so I assumed the college-age fractions of Jews and whites in general were proportional to the sizes of their total populations.

Similarly, since Jews are today roughly 8% of the total non-Hispanic white population in California, I have assumed that they represented that fixed share of that same total population over the last few decades, though it appears that the Jewish fraction of whites in California has actually risen substantially during this period.

A crucial demographic factor among American Jews has been rapid growth of the ultra-Orthodox segment, driven by their very high fertility, and the contrasting trends within the general Jewish population. For example, demographic estimates by Prof. Joshua Comenetz of the University of Florida indicate that the population of ultra-orthodox Jews is doubling every twenty years, and would have easily exceeded 10% of the American total by 2010.

This is driven by both early marriages and an extremely high total fertility rate, running at 6.6 children for Haredi ultra-Orthodox families to 7.9 children for Hassidic ultra-Orthodox. Meanwhile, the overall Jewish fertility rate is well below replacement, being around 1.86. Given the relative size of the ultra-Orthodox community, this implies that the non-ultra-Orthodox fertility rate (including modern Orthodox) is not much above one child. In fact, the New York City population figures for 2011 indicate that the average Orthodox Jewish family (including both modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox) has almost five times as many children as the average non-Orthodox Jewish family.

The demographic and socio-economic contrast between ordinary and ultra-Orthodox Jews and the associated projections are discussed in the following sources:

Jack Wertheimer, “Jews and the Jewish Birthrate,” Commentary, October 2005

Joseph Berger, “Aided by Orthodox, City’s Jewish Population Is Growing Again,” The New York Times, June 11, 2012

Josh Nathan-Kazis, “N.Y. Jewish Population Grows to 1.5M: Study,” Jewish Daily Forward, June 12, 2012

Majority of Jews will be Ultra-Orthodox by 2050,” University of Manchester, July 23, 2007

 

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Appendix B: Estimated Age and State Distribution of American Racial and Ethnic Groups

When considering the per capita performance or representation of various racial or ethnic groups, we must be careful to calculate these values with respect to the appropriate underlying population. In particular, different groups frequently have substantially dissimilar age-distributions, so the relative sizes of their college-age cohorts may be quite different from the sizes of their overall populations, impacting both college enrollments and late high school achievements. Such differences are indicated by non-Hispanic whites having a median age of 42, while the figure for Hispanics is 27.

For that reason, I have used the totals of the 18-21 age-cohorts from the Community Population Survey (CPS) of the U.S. Census to provide these racial percentages for the last forty years, both nationwide and for the state of California. Since the CPS results are based on sampling, the yearly figures may display considerable random statistical fluctuations, especially for small groups such as Asians, but over longer periods they are probably accurate. In addition, prior to 1987, the figures for Asians were not separately provided, but were included in the “Other” category, and based on the 1986 and 1987 figures, I have assumed that 80% of the pre-1987 “Other” totals were actually Asians. “Whites” represent non-Hispanic whites. The national Jewish figures are estimated as described in Appendix A, while the California figures assume a constant ratio to non-Hispanic whites, hence are probably an overestimate for prior decades.

For the late high school cohort of ages 16-17, the racial distributions are very close to those of the 18-21 cohort for all racial groups, but have much higher yearly statistical fluctuations because the total samples are half as large; therefore, I have elected to use the distributions derived from the 18-21 cohort for high school populations as well.

Historical National and California College-Age Population Percentages

National Percentages, Age 18-21 California Percentages, Age 18-21
Year White Hispanic Black Asian Jewish N/J White White Hispanic Black Asian Jewish N/J White
1972

82.0

4.5

12.4

0.9

2.6

79.3

74.2

14.2

9.1

2.1

5.9

68.3

1973

81.1

5.1

12.4

1.1

2.6

78.5

71.2

14.3

9.8

3.8

5.7

65.5

1974

80.7

5.5

12.4

1.1

2.6

78.1

68.8

16.6

9.8

3.8

5.5

63.3

1975

80.3

5.7

12.4

1.2

2.6

77.8

67.6

18.9

8.4

4.1

5.4

62.2

1976

80.3

5.4

12.7

1.3

2.6

77.7

69.4

16.5

8.9

4.2

5.6

63.9

1977

79.7

5.8

12.8

1.4

2.6

77.2

68.2

18.7

8.8

3.4

5.5

62.8

1978

79.4

5.9

12.8

1.5

2.5

76.9

65.9

18.2

10.3

4.4

5.3

60.6

1979

79.1

6.2

12.8

1.5

2.5

76.5

65.3

19.1

9.6

4.8

5.2

60.1

1980

78.3

6.9

12.9

1.6

2.5

75.8

63.4

21.2

9.1

5.0

5.1

58.4

1981

76.6

7.3

13.4

2.2

2.5

74.2

60.8

22.3

8.0

7.1

4.9

56.0

1982

76.8

7.1

13.6

2.0

2.5

74.3

62.8

20.5

9.1

6.1

5.0

57.8

1983

76.5

7.0

13.8

2.2

2.4

74.0

59.1

22.7

11.2

5.6

4.7

54.3

1984

75.7

7.2

14.2

2.3

2.4

73.2

59.1

21.6

10.0

7.4

4.7

54.4

1985

74.3

8.5

14.2

2.4

2.4

71.9

56.3

25.2

8.2

8.3

4.5

51.8

1986

73.3

9.5

14.3

2.3

2.3

71.0

54.2

28.7

8.9

6.6

4.3

49.9

1987

72.3

10.0

14.4

2.7

2.3

70.0

51.5

30.0

7.5

8.8

4.1

47.4

1988

72.6

9.7

14.2

2.9

2.3

70.2

51.8

30.4

7.2

9.9

4.1

47.6

1989

72.8

9.7

13.9

2.8

2.3

70.5

50.3

31.6

5.7

11.4

4.0

46.3

1990

70.8

10.9

14.3

3.0

2.3

68.5

49.1

33.4

5.1

10.1

3.9

45.2

1991

70.5

10.8

14.7

3.2

2.3

68.3

47.7

33.9

6.5

10.9

3.8

43.9

1992

69.6

11.4

14.9

3.1

2.2

67.4

41.5

38.0

9.3

9.6

3.3

38.2

1993

68.4

12.2

15.0

3.0

2.2

66.2

39.4

41.9

6.5

10.4

3.2

36.3

1994

66.5

13.5

15.1

3.0

2.1

64.4

39.0

40.6

6.2

10.5

3.1

35.8

1995

66.0

14.0

15.3

2.5

2.1

63.9

35.3

45.1

5.1

8.9

2.8

32.4

1996

65.2

14.1

15.4

4.2

2.1

63.2

37.5

40.3

7.6

13.4

3.0

34.5

1997

65.1

14.1

15.7

3.9

2.1

63.0

35.5

41.3

7.3

14.7

2.8

32.7

1998

65.6

14.8

15.0

3.7

2.1

63.5

45.4

36.7

5.4

11.1

3.6

41.8

1999

65.3

14.7

15.2

3.9

2.1

63.2

42.5

38.4

6.6

11.4

3.4

39.1

2000

64.8

14.4

15.2

4.4

2.1

62.8

42.9

36.5

6.3

13.5

3.4

39.5

2001

61.8

17.8

14.7

4.5

2.0

59.8

36.5

43.9

6.6

12.4

2.9

33.6

2002

61.6

17.6

14.6

4.8

2.0

59.7

36.2

42.7

5.6

14.3

2.9

33.3

2003

61.2

17.2

14.0

4.7

2.0

59.2

39.1

38.0

5.7

13.1

3.1

35.9

2004

62.3

17.1

13.3

4.4

2.0

60.3

38.9

38.7

6.0

13.6

3.1

35.8

2005

60.5

17.3

14.8

4.5

1.9

58.6

36.9

41.7

6.6

11.0

3.0

34.0

2006

60.6

17.0

15.4

4.4

1.9

58.7

37.2

40.5

6.7

13.3

3.0

34.2

2007

59.3

17.9

15.3

4.7

1.9

57.4

34.8

40.8

7.8

13.4

2.8

32.0

2008

59.4

17.9

15.0

4.6

1.9

57.5

36.5

41.6

7.8

11.0

2.9

33.6

2009

60.2

17.3

15.1

4.6

1.9

58.2

38.2

41.6

7.3

11.3

3.1

35.1

2010

58.5

18.9

15.1

4.6

1.9

56.6

33.3

46.1

6.8

10.8

2.7

30.7

2011

56.9

19.6

15.4

5.1

1.8

55.1

30.1

48.8

6.1

11.1

2.4

27.7

 

Estimated 2010/2011 State Percentages of non-Jewish whites, Asians, and Jews

State N/J White Asian Jewish State N/J White Asian Jewish
Alabama 66.8

1.1

0.2

Montana 87.7

0.6

0.1

Alaska 63.2

5.4

0.9

Nebraska 81.8

1.8

0.3

Arizona 56.1

2.8

1.7

Nevada 51.3

7.2

2.8

Arkansas 74.4

1.2

0.1

New Hampshire 91.5

2.2

0.8

California 36.8

13.0

3.3

New Jersey 53.6

8.3

5.7

Colorado 68.2

2.8

1.8

New Mexico 39.9

1.4

0.6

Connecticut 68.0

3.8

3.2

New York 49.9

7.3

8.4

Delaware 63.6

3.2

1.7

North Carolina 65.0

2.2

0.3

District of Columbia 30.1

3.5

4.7

North Dakota 88.8

1.0

0.1

Florida 54.5

2.4

3.4

Ohio 79.8

1.7

1.3

Georgia 54.6

3.2

1.3

Oklahoma 68.6

1.7

0.1

Hawaii 22.2

38.6

0.5

Oregon 77.4

3.7

1.1

Idaho 83.9

1.2

0.1

Pennsylvania 77.2

2.7

2.3

Illinois 61.4

4.6

2.3

Rhode Island 74.6

2.9

1.8

Indiana 81.2

1.6

0.3

South Carolina 63.8

1.3

0.3

Iowa 88.5

1.7

0.2

South Dakota 84.7

0.9

0.0

Kansas 77.6

2.4

0.6

Tennessee 75.3

1.4

0.3

Kentucky 86.0

1.1

0.3

Texas 44.7

3.8

0.6

Louisiana 60.1

1.5

0.2

Utah 80.2

2.0

0.2

Maine 93.4

1.0

1.0

Vermont 93.4

1.3

0.9

Maryland 50.6

5.5

4.1

Virginia 63.6

5.5

1.2

Massachusetts 71.9

5.3

4.2

Washington 71.8

7.2

0.7

Michigan 75.8

2.4

0.8

West Virginia 93.1

0.7

0.1

Minnesota 82.2

4.0

0.9

Wisconsin 82.8

2.3

0.5

Mississippi 57.9

0.9

0.1

Wyoming 85.7

0.8

0.2

Missouri 80.0

1.6

1.0

Puerto Rico 1.0

0.2

0.1

Northeast 63.5

5.5

5.2

South 58.8

2.8

1.2

Midwest 76.8

2.6

1.1

West 50.6

9.3

2.2

National Total

61.6

4.8

2.1

 

 

   

Source: The Asian and Non-Jewish white figures are derived from the 2010 Census, while the Jewish estimates appear in Sheskin (2011) and should be almost unchanged from the 2010 figures.

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Appendix C: Racial and Ethnic Enrollments at Elite Universities

The following tables summarize the 1980-2011 officially reported racial enrollment percentages for full-time undergraduates at the Ivy League and several comparably elite universities, and were derived from the total enrollment figures obtained from the website of National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). The listed categories are White (W), Black (B), Hispanic (H), Asian (A), Unknown Race (U), and International (I). Prior to 2009, the “Unknown Race” category also included mixed race individuals.

Harvard Yale Princeton
Year W B H A U I W B H A U I W B H A U I
1980 81.3 5.2 3.5 4.1 0.0 5.7 80.2 5.9 3.7 5.6 0.0 4.3 79.8 7.5 4.6 3.2 0.0 4.5
1984 77.4 4.3 3.8 6.9 0.0 7.5 80.8 6.5 2.9 6.8 0.0 2.8 76.4 6.6 3.9 4.8 0.0 8.0
1986 74.2 5.9 4.2 9.0 0.0 6.3 79.7 6.5 3.4 7.8 0.0 2.5 78.2 6.2 4.1 7.1 0.0 4.2
1988 70.9 6.9 4.6 10.8 0.0 6.3 76.2 6.9 4.3 9.7 0.0 2.9 75.8 6.0 3.9 7.6 0.0 6.4
1990 69.9 7.1 5.8 10.9 1.4 5.8 67.8 8.4 5.7 14.1 12.3 3.6 73.2 6.7 4.9 9.6 0.0 5.2
1991 64.2 7.4 5.9 16.1 3.1 5.9 67.0 7.7 5.2 15.6 10.1 4.3 72.0 6.6 5.4 10.1 0.0 5.6
1992 58.0 7.5 8.5 19.1 4.8 6.3 65.7 7.8 6.0 16.1 8.3 4.0 72.2 6.4 5.9 9.4 0.0 5.9
1993 56.5 8.4 7.5 20.6 10.9 6.4 63.2 9.2 6.1 16.8 8.2 4.3 71.7 6.2 6.0 9.9 0.0 5.8
1994 46.1 7.4 7.1 18.3 14.0 6.5 56.6 8.4 6.4 15.6 7.9 4.4 71.1 6.3 6.0 10.5 0.0 5.6
1995 45.1 7.3 7.3 18.4 15.1 6.2 55.4 8.7 6.5 16.1 7.7 5.0 69.7 6.8 6.2 11.3 0.0 5.4
1996 44.6 8.0 7.2 17.5 15.8 6.1 54.9 8.2 6.0 16.8 7.5 5.9 68.2 7.0 6.4 12.1 0.0 5.6
1997 43.4 8.2 7.4 17.4 16.4 6.4 55.5 7.5 5.9 16.5 7.8 6.1 67.9 7.1 6.4 12.8 0.0 5.1
1998 44.1 8.1 7.7 17.0 15.8 6.7 53.8 7.2 5.8 16.1 10.0 6.4 67.8 7.2 6.3 12.9 0.0 5.2
1999 43.5 7.9 7.5 17.2 16.7 6.5 52.7 7.0 6.0 14.6 12.1 6.7 68.4 7.2 6.3 12.3 0.0 5.1
2000 44.3 7.9 7.6 17.1 15.9 6.5 53.9 7.6 5.8 14.5 12.3 5.1 68.0 7.2 6.0 12.3 0.0 6.0
2001 45.6 7.5 7.6 16.4 15.1 6.9 52.4 7.6 6.0 13.8 12.1 7.4 66.2 7.9 6.4 12.1 0.0 6.9
2002 47.4 7.2 7.7 16.3 13.5 7.2 52.0 8.0 6.0 13.5 11.8 7.9 65.2 8.2 6.2 12.2 0.0 7.5
2003 48.6 7.3 7.4 16.2 12.2 7.5 51.6 7.6 6.0 13.4 11.9 8.8 63.6 8.2 6.3 12.9 0.0 8.3
2004 48.9 7.6 7.7 17.1 9.3 8.5 51.3 7.8 7.1 13.6 10.8 8.6 62.9 8.2 6.8 13.0 0.0 8.4
2005 49.0 8.3 7.5 17.6 8.5 8.4 51.0 8.1 7.2 13.6 11.1 8.2 62.0 8.5 6.8 13.1 0.0 8.9
2006 47.6 7.9 6.5 14.3 14.3 8.9 50.1 8.2 7.6 13.5 11.4 8.3 57.5 8.7 7.2 13.6 2.9 9.2
2007 45.9 7.8 7.0 15.4 14.0 9.1 48.7 8.8 8.1 13.7 11.2 8.4 52.3 8.6 7.5 14.1 7.2 9.6
2008 44.6 7.8 6.7 16.7 14.0 9.5 45.1 8.7 8.6 13.8 14.4 8.6 51.2 8.5 7.6 15.0 7.1 10.0
2009 42.4 7.9 7.5 17.0 13.9 10.3 41.7 8.5 8.5 14.3 16.8 8.9 48.3 7.8 7.5 15.7 4.6 10.4
2010 44.1 6.9 8.1 15.6 11.9 9.8 46.6 6.0 9.1 14.2 8.6 9.8 48.8 7.5 7.7 16.9 3.3 10.5
2011 45.0 6.6 9.2 17.2 6.2 10.7 47.2 6.0 10.0 15.2 5.2 10.0 49.0 7.0 8.0 17.6 2.7 11.0
Columbia Brown Cornell
W B H A U I W B H A U I W B H A U I
1980 73.4 5.8 6.3 9.7 4.9 4.9 86.1 6.2 1.4 3.8 0.0 2.3 81.4 5.0 3.3 6.4 0.0 3.7
1984 74.2 6.2 5.1 12.5 1.9 1.9 82.9 6.9 2.6 5.9 0.0 1.6 75.7 5.4 4.6 10.1 0.0 3.9
1986 73.3 6.1 5.0 12.8 2.6 2.6 81.1 7.4 2.4 7.2 0.0 1.8 75.0 4.6 4.1 11.5 0.0 4.0
1988 70.5 6.7 5.3 14.1 3.2 3.2 78.9 7.3 2.9 8.6 0.0 2.2 73.8 4.3 4.2 13.6 0.0 3.8
1990 63.4 7.4 7.5 16.2 5.2 5.2 71.5 6.9 4.2 10.9 0.0 6.4 70.9 4.6 4.8 15.0 0.0 4.4
1991 60.7 7.8 7.7 18.4 5.2 5.2 69.0 6.7 4.8 12.7 0.0 6.7 67.5 4.6 5.6 16.6 0.0 5.4
1992 58.6 7.6 7.6 19.9 6.1 6.1 66.6 6.8 5.4 14.0 0.0 7.0 65.1 4.6 6.1 17.7 0.0 6.2
1993 55.8 8.5 6.4 22.7 6.3 6.3 66.6 6.4 5.0 14.8 0.0 7.0 63.4 4.0 5.8 19.2 0.0 7.3
1994 46.3 7.4 5.4 19.5 6.2 6.2 66.4 6.3 5.0 15.2 0.0 6.8 61.9 4.0 6.1 20.1 0.0 7.6
1995 45.8 7.3 5.0 18.4 6.7 6.7 66.2 6.6 4.9 15.3 0.0 6.7 60.7 3.7 6.2 20.9 0.0 8.0
1996 46.3 7.3 4.6 16.3 6.9 6.9 66.2 6.3 5.1 15.6 0.0 6.5 55.3 4.1 6.3 20.4 5.4 8.0
1997 46.2 7.7 4.6 14.7 7.1 7.1 65.8 6.4 5.6 15.3 0.0 6.7 56.0 4.3 6.1 20.6 3.0 9.4
1998 45.6 7.5 4.2 13.9 7.3 7.3 65.2 6.4 5.8 15.2 0.0 7.1 55.9 4.3 6.1 19.7 3.7 9.8
1999 46.1 7.9 3.9 12.6 7.0 7.0 61.8 6.2 6.0 14.7 4.1 6.9 55.6 4.2 6.0 19.9 3.6 10.1
2000 45.6 7.3 6.6 13.5 14.5 14.5 55.7 6.3 6.3 14.9 9.5 6.9 55.8 4.2 5.9 19.8 3.6 10.1
2001 46.3 7.2 6.8 13.6 13.5 13.5 51.9 6.1 6.6 14.5 14.1 6.3 55.9 4.5 5.6 19.7 3.9 10.1
2002 47.6 7.1 6.8 14.2 11.4 11.4 49.9 6.1 6.4 13.7 17.4 5.9 55.8 4.7 5.3 19.8 4.3 9.7
2003 47.5 6.9 7.3 16.3 8.3 8.3 49.6 6.5 6.7 13.6 16.8 6.3 59.4 4.6 5.2 16.4 6.6 7.2
2004 47.1 7.2 7.3 16.4 7.4 7.4 51.2 6.5 7.0 13.5 14.9 6.3 57.9 4.6 5.2 16.3 8.5 7.1
2005 46.0 7.4 7.9 16.7 7.9 7.9 51.4 6.8 7.3 13.7 14.1 6.2 56.0 4.8 5.4 15.9 10.0 7.4
2006 43.2 7.7 9.3 17.2 8.4 8.4 50.1 6.9 8.1 13.9 14.1 6.4 53.2 5.0 5.5 16.1 11.8 7.9
2007 42.0 8.4 9.5 17.2 9.5 9.5 48.4 6.8 8.4 15.3 13.4 7.2 49.7 5.3 5.5 16.2 14.8 8.0
2008 39.6 9.0 10.6 16.9 10.4 10.4 45.2 6.8 8.7 15.9 14.5 8.3 48.8 5.1 5.6 16.5 14.9 8.7
2009 37.3 9.9 11.9 16.3 11.2 11.2 46.9 5.5 9.2 15.4 11.2 8.9 45.6 5.4 5.9 16.6 17.4 8.7
2010 40.2 8.5 13.6 15.7 12.2 12.2 45.8 5.9 9.2 14.6 11.0 9.7 46.1 5.3 8.4 16.1 12.0 9.0
2011 40.2 8.0 13.0 15.6 11.0 11.0 44.7 6.0 9.0 13.5 11.2 11.0 45.5 6.0 9.0 16.4 9.9 9.0
Dartmouth Penn Caltech
Year W B H A U I W B H A U I W B H A U I
1980 86.3 7.7 0.4 1.6 0.0 2.7 85.3 5.4 1.9 3.8 0.0 3.5 74.4 1.9 3.6 12.0 0.0 8.0
1984 86.5 6.1 1.0 1.9 0.0 3.2 82.3 5.2 2.4 5.7 0.0 4.3 67.8 1.5 3.4 18.7 0.0 8.1
1986 84.2 5.6 1.4 3.6 0.0 3.4 79.9 5.4 2.9 7.3 0.0 4.4 64.6 1.6 2.9 21.4 0.0 9.4
1988 77.5 6.7 2.3 5.6 0.0 5.8 74.9 6.1 3.1 9.3 0.0 6.5 63.8 0.9 2.8 22.4 0.0 9.8
1990 74.9 6.0 3.4 6.3 5.7 6.8 70.7 6.2 3.3 12.6 0.0 7.1 62.1 1.7 3.3 22.1 0.5 10.2
1991 73.2 6.6 3.9 6.4 7.3 7.1 68.3 5.8 3.5 14.5 0.0 7.7 59.6 2.2 4.6 22.7 0.3 10.3
1992 71.7 6.5 4.6 7.1 9.1 7.2 65.6 5.6 3.8 15.9 0.0 8.9 56.3 1.9 5.9 25.2 0.1 10.3
1993 70.7 6.0 4.5 8.3 9.7 7.5 64.1 5.4 3.8 17.1 0.0 9.4 56.3 1.8 5.7 26.9 0.6 8.7
1994 63.6 5.6 4.7 8.5 7.2 7.8 64.1 5.3 3.8 17.8 0.0 8.8 54.0 1.6 5.7 29.8 0.2 8.3
1995 59.3 5.8 4.1 8.7 11.4 8.5 64.1 5.5 4.0 18.1 0.0 8.0 55.6 0.5 5.0 29.1 0.1 9.5
1996 58.4 5.4 4.2 8.7 12.9 8.4 64.9 5.3 4.2 17.9 0.0 7.7 57.5 0.6 4.9 27.6 0.1 9.3
1997 58.0 5.5 4.0 9.1 13.1 8.3 64.1 5.6 4.3 17.9 0.0 7.9 58.0 0.6 4.2 27.4 0.3 9.3
1998 59.1 5.6 4.4 10.2 14.7 4.1 63.6 5.4 4.0 18.5 0.0 8.4 59.5 1.4 4.9 24.1 0.3 9.4
1999 60.4 5.3 5.0 9.8 13.3 4.0 62.2 5.3 4.3 19.2 0.0 8.8 60.0 1.1 5.3 24.3 0.3 8.8
2000 59.8 5.5 5.7 10.2 12.1 4.4 53.1 5.6 4.8 19.0 8.8 8.6 58.1 1.4 5.9 24.9 0.3 9.1
2001 60.9 5.6 5.8 10.5 9.9 4.6 51.2 5.4 5.2 19.5 10.1 8.4 55.9 1.9 6.9 24.5 0.6 9.8
2002 59.4 6.2 6.5 11.6 8.5 4.8 50.6 5.7 5.7 18.4 10.5 8.8 56.0 1.3 6.5 27.2 0.9 7.7
2003 58.2 6.3 6.4 12.2 8.6 5.3 50.1 5.9 5.4 16.8 11.0 10.5 51.4 1.3 7.3 31.1 0.8 7.5
2004 57.2 6.8 6.4 13.4 7.3 5.4 48.7 6.1 5.3 17.6 12.0 10.0 51.8 1.1 6.9 31.1 1.5 6.9
2005 57.6 6.9 6.1 13.5 7.2 5.4 48.2 6.5 5.3 17.2 12.3 10.1 49.5 0.8 6.7 33.0 2.6 7.0
2006 58.0 7.2 5.9 13.4 6.0 5.6 46.4 6.9 5.6 17.6 12.5 10.6 45.7 0.6 5.6 37.4 2.7 8.0
2007 57.2 7.3 6.3 13.6 5.3 6.7 44.7 7.1 5.7 16.8 14.0 11.4 43.5 0.8 5.4 38.1 2.7 9.4
2008 55.8 8.0 6.8 13.6 5.1 7.0 42.2 7.6 5.9 17.3 15.4 11.1 40.4 0.8 5.5 39.8 2.2 11.3
2009 53.2 8.4 7.0 14.5 5.5 7.6 39.3 7.5 6.2 17.8 17.1 11.6 38.7 1.2 6.8 39.9 1.8 11.7
2010 50.1 7.9 8.3 14.5 6.1 7.8 45.4 7.1 6.6 17.9 9.3 12.1 37.3 1.1 6.4 39.4 1.9 11.7
2011 47.4 7.0 9.0 14.0 8.4 7.0 45.5 7.0 7.0 18.3 6.8 11.0 35.1 1.0 8.0 38.8 0.5 12.0
MIT Stanford Berkeley
Year W B H A U I W B H A U I W B H A U I
1980 76.3 5.5 2.4 5.3 0.0 10.1 78.3 6.1 6.5 6.3 0.0 2.2 68.4 3.2 3.8 21.7 0.0 2.4
1984 64.3 5.4 3.8 13.5 0.0 12.7 70.9 7.6 8.7 7.4 0.0 4.8 62.1 4.3 5.9 24.6 0.0 2.6
1986 67.1 4.6 4.8 15.8 0.0 7.3 68.0 7.8 9.5 9.8 0.0 4.3 53.5 5.1 7.3 25.5 0.0 2.6
1988 60.5 5.8 6.6 17.9 0.0 8.6 64.3 8.4 9.5 13.7 0.0 3.2 49.5 7.0 11.0 27.8 0.0 3.6
1990 55.0 6.4 8.3 21.2 0.0 8.7 59.3 8.3 9.8 18.4 0.2 3.2 42.8 7.3 14.9 30.4 6.1 3.4
1991 53.1 6.2 8.2 23.0 0.0 8.7 57.0 8.0 10.0 20.2 0.2 3.5 41.0 7.3 15.2 31.7 6.0 3.5
1992 51.3 5.6 8.3 25.5 0.0 8.5 54.2 7.8 10.6 22.2 0.1 4.0 37.5 6.2 15.4 35.9 7.6 3.8
1993 49.3 5.6 8.7 27.3 0.0 8.3 51.8 7.8 11.1 23.6 0.2 4.3 35.6 5.6 14.7 39.1 7.4 3.8
1994 48.3 5.8 8.9 28.0 0.0 8.1 50.2 7.9 11.0 24.6 0.2 4.8 30.5 5.2 13.3 38.9 7.3 3.8
1995 47.6 5.6 8.7 29.1 0.7 7.6 50.0 8.0 11.7 23.8 0.2 4.8 29.7 5.6 13.6 39.4 6.7 3.7
1996 43.6 6.5 9.6 28.5 3.3 7.8 50.5 7.9 11.3 23.9 0.1 4.8 29.8 5.5 13.3 39.9 6.7 3.7
1997 40.8 6.2 9.9 28.3 5.9 7.7 50.7 8.1 10.9 24.1 0.1 4.8 30.0 5.8 12.8 39.7 6.9 3.7
1998 37.7 6.1 10.1 28.4 8.3 7.9 51.3 8.2 11.0 23.5 0.1 4.8 29.7 5.1 11.3 39.8 9.4 3.7
1999 34.1 6.3 10.6 27.7 11.0 8.3 50.7 8.5 10.7 24.0 0.1 4.8 29.8 4.6 10.4 39.9 10.6 3.8
2000 34.0 6.2 11.2 27.5 10.8 8.5 49.7 8.8 10.4 24.5 0.1 5.0 30.0 4.2 9.5 40.9 11.0 3.8
2001 34.5 6.1 11.3 27.8 10.1 8.2 48.0 8.6 10.6 24.7 1.2 5.2 30.3 3.6 9.2 41.3 11.6 3.4
2002 34.5 6.1 11.8 27.4 10.0 8.3 45.6 9.6 11.1 24.5 2.1 5.3 29.8 3.5 9.8 42.3 11.0 3.0
2003 34.7 6.1 11.8 28.2 9.5 8.1 41.4 10.4 12.0 25.2 3.3 5.8 29.7 3.8 10.5 41.7 10.6 3.1
2004 35.4 5.9 11.5 27.8 10.4 7.5 40.9 10.7 11.7 24.3 4.4 5.9 30.2 3.6 10.5 41.5 10.4 3.3
2005 35.9 5.8 11.3 26.6 11.3 7.6 40.6 10.5 11.3 24.2 5.1 6.2 30.9 3.4 10.5 41.9 9.5 3.3
2006 36.7 6.3 11.5 26.5 9.9 7.9 40.3 10.3 11.3 24.2 5.3 6.1 31.4 3.4 10.9 41.8 8.7 3.3
2007 37.2 7.1 11.8 25.9 8.4 8.4 41.1 9.5 11.5 24.2 5.0 6.3 31.4 3.2 11.4 42.2 8.1 3.2
2008 36.5 8.0 12.4 25.4 7.2 9.4 38.2 9.9 12.2 23.0 7.0 6.9 30.7 3.4 11.5 42.0 7.6 4.3
2009 36.3 8.1 13.2 25.0 5.8 9.3 35.9 10.0 13.4 23.1 7.7 7.2 30.2 3.5 11.9 40.8 7.5 5.6
2010 36.9 7.7 13.4 23.9 5.2 9.6 38.9 7.0 15.7 17.9 1.3 7.2 30.2 3.0 11.9 38.7 7.1 7.3
2011 36.0 7.0 15.0 24.0 4.0 10.0 36.4 7.0 16.0 18.2 0.9 8.0 30.3 3.0 12.0 37.1 5.2 9.0

The figures do not sum to 100 because the small racial categories of American Indian and post-2009 mixed race are excluded, while prior to 1994 the “Unknown Race” category was parallel to the actual racial reporting.

 

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Appendix D: Recent and Historical Jewish Enrollments at Elite Universities

Recent Jewish Enrollments

Estimates of current Jewish enrollments at most major American universities may be found at the website of the Jewish Hillel student organization.

For most universities with large Jewish enrollments, the most recent seven years of these Jewish enrollment estimates by Hillel were published as lists in issues of Reform Judaism Magazine, and are available on their website at:

Fall 2006 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1192
Fall 2007 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1278
Fall 2008 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1380
Fall 2009 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1518
Fall 2010 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1647
Fall 2011 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=2888
Fall 2012 http://reformjudaismmag.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=3074

A summary of these recent Jewish enrollment figures for available Ivy League and other elite universities are as follows:

Year Harvard Yale Princeton Brown Columbia Cornell Penn Dartmouth All Ivies
2006 25 23 20 22 22 25 21
2007 30 22.6 14* 25 25 21.7 30.8 11* 24
2008 25.5 30 25 25 25 28 24
2009 25 23 25 25 22 25 22
2010 25 27 25 25 23 25 23
2011 25 27 22 25 23 25 22
2012 25 27 13 22 30 23 25 11 23
Year MIT Caltech Stanford Berkeley UCLA Irvine San Diego Davis Chicago
2006 11 10
2007 9* 6* 10* 10* 12.1 5* 7* 10 14*
2008 10.3
2009 12
2010 12
2011 9 16
2012 9.5 5.5 9.5 10 8.7 4 8 10 16

The average enrollment across the Ivies is weighted by the 2011 total enrollments.

The Hillel estimates for universities with relatively small Jewish enrollments are not provided in the past Reform Judaism listings. However, a commenter to the College Confidential discussion forum claims to have provided the Hillel listings in 2007, and since his figures exactly match those of the listings, they are probably accurate, and are the source for the 2007 figures marked with an asterisk: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/3739728-post7.html.

Historical Jewish Enrollments:

Historical levels of Jewish enrollment may be found in Synnott (1979/2010), Oren (1985), and Karabel (2005), as well as a few other sources.

Jewish Portion of Freshmen at Princeton, 1925-1940: Synnott (1979/2010) p. 195, 224

Class Jewish Percentage
1925 3.9%
1926 3.9%
1927 3.3%
1928 2.1%
1929 1.7%
1930 2.8%
1931 3.0%
1932 2.8%
1933 2.8%
1934 1.7%
1935 0.8%
1936 1.6%
1937 1.8%
1938 3.1%
1939 1.0%
1940 2.7%
1970 13.5%

Jewish Portion of Freshmen at Harvard, 1900-1922: Synnott (1979/2010) p. 96; the figures are significantly higher if we also include transfer students.

Year Jewish Percentage
1900 7%
1903 7.1%
1906 7.5%
1909 9.8%
1912 12.6%
1913 14.6%
1914 15.1%
1915 14.0%
1916 14.8%
1917 13.1%
1918 19.8%
1919 17.9%
1920 17.8%
1921 19.7%
1922 21.5%

Also, according to Synnott (1979/2010) p. xxvi, In the mid-1990s, undergraduate Jewish enrollments was about 10-12% at Princeton and ranged between 25% and 36% at Harvard, Yale, and all of the other Ivy League schools.

Jewish Enrollment at Yale College, 1902-1969: Oren (1985) pp. 320-321

Period Average Jewish Enrollment
1902-04 2.1%
1905-10 3.4%
1911-19 6.0%
1920-26 9.7%
1927-33 11.6%
1934-45 9.8%
1945W-51 9.2%
1952-61 11.3%
1962-65 11.8%
1966-69 16.1%

And according to Oren (1985) p. 196, Ivy Enrollment in 1961 was as follows: Columbia=45%, Cornell=26%, Penn=25%, Harvard=21%, Brown=18%, Princeton=15%, Dartmouth=15%, Yale=12%.

Historical Jewish Enrollments figures for Ivy League Universities, 1900-2000 drawn from Karabel (2005), in some cases drawn from Synnott (1979/2010) or Oren (1985)

Year Source Enrollment
1900 p. 96 Harvard=7%
1908 p. 23 Harvard=9%F
1909 p. 51 Harvard=9.8%
1914 p. 51 Harvard=15.1%
1915 p. 96 Harvard=15%
1917 p. 75 Yale=9F%
1918 p. 75 Harvard=20%F,Princeton=4%F,Cornell=9.1%,Penn=15.7%
1919 pp. 86-7 Brown=20%,Penn=25%,Columbia=40%
1921 pp. 86-7 Columbia=22%
1922 p. 89 Harvard=21.5%
1923 p. 105 Yale=13.3%, Princeton=3.6%
1924 p. 105 Harvard=25%,Princeton=2%
1925 p. 105,207 Harvard=27.6%F+3.6?%, Yale=13.3%
1926 p. 126 Harvard=15%F
1927 p. 207 Yale=13.3%
1933 p. 172 Harvard=15%F
1937 p. 225 Yale=11.2%F
1936-41 p. 230 Princeton=2.3%F
1930s p. 245 Harvard=10-15%,Yale=10.7%, Princeton=2%
1942 p. 243 Princeton=2.6%F
1943 p. 243 Princeton=4.8%F
1944 p. 243 Princeton=8.1%F
1946 p. 243 Princeton=4.7%F
1947 p. 597n160 Yale=9.4%F
1948 p. 243 Princeton=6.8%F
1949 p. 597n160 Yale=12.3%F,Princeton=5.6%F
1946-50 p. 211 Yale=10.2%
1950 p. 212 Yale=7.2%F
1952 p. 196 Harvard=25%, Cornell=23%F
1953 p. 363, 607n120 Yale=11%, Princeton=12-13%
1958 p. 246 Princeton=14%
1959 p. 323 Yale=12%,Princeton=14%
1960 p. 319 Princeton=15%
1962-65 p. 331 Yale=16%
1966 p. 364 Yale=30%F,Princeton=12%
1967 p. 365 Penn=40%,Columbia=40%
1960s-70s p. 626n66 Harvard=25-30%
1972 p. 459 Yale=30%
1973 p. 365 Yale=33%
1976 p. 478-9 Yale=33%,Princeton=19%
1979 p. 529 Princeton=20%
1985 Princeton=16%
1986-88 p. 529 Princeton=13-14%
1990 p. 529-530 Harvard=21%,Yale=29%,Princeton=10%
1999 p. 669n2 Harvard=21%
2000 p. 536 Harvard=21%

F=Entering freshman class figures

 

In addition, the Harvard Crimson in 1992 claimed that “one in four” (or 25%) of the students at the college was then Jewish: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1992/11/16/harvard-is-a-home-for-jewish/

I have applied linear interpolation methods to estimate the Jewish enrollment percentages for years between these specified figures.

 

Primary Bibliography:

The Chosen (2005) Jerome Karabel
Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale (1985) Dan A. Oren
The Half-Opened Door (1979/2010) Marcia Graham Synnott

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Appendix E: Estimating the National Distribution of High-Ability Students from the NMS Semifinalists

Each year since 1956 the quasi-official National Merit Scholarship (NMS) Corporation has distributed millions of dollars in financial awards to American high school students based on academic aptitude and performance. In recent years, the competition has attracted roughly one-half of all high school juniors, probably including nearly all the higher-performing ones hoping to attend selective universities.

The first stage of the process involves the identification of some 16,000 NMS semifinalists based on their Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) scores, with state totals apportioned according to the numbers of high school seniors. Since the PSAT is almost identical in nature to the much better-known SAT, these rosters effectively provide the names of the 16,000 or so American high school juniors who perform best on SAT-type academic aptitude tests, placing them in the top one-half percent of their age group in academic ability.

Although some statistics exist on the racial or ethnic distribution of SAT scores, the annual rosters of PSAT semifinalists seem a far superior dataset for estimating the distribution of highest-performing students.

First, there is a wide divergence in the rates at which different groups take the SAT, which obviously would impact mean scores, along with the problem that many students in certain parts of the country tend to substitute the somewhat similar ACT. By contrast, the PSAT is universal and national.

Also, wealthier or more determined students frequently take the SAT multiple times, often following test-prep courses, and afterward report only their best scores, while the PSAT is only administered once.

Since the only use of the PSAT is as an initial filter for the few thousand National Merit Scholarships, it constitutes a relatively “low stakes” test compared with the SAT or ACT, which are usually taken by high school seniors the following year and heavily determine college admissions; thus, the PSAT results are less likely to be distorted by cramming, prepping, or even outright cheating.

Finally, estimating the distribution of high performing students from the means or other statistics of the individual subpopulations requires us to assume that the results are normally distributed, which may not be correct, while the lists of NMS semifinalists represent the explicit set of high-ability students we are seeking, allowing us to stratify the data in whatever way we choose.

Each June, the individual state lists of NMS semifinalists are released to thousands of media outlets for publicity purposes. Sometimes these releases are then posted on the Internet in PDF form or otherwise made permanently available, and I have managed to locate a total of forty-three such lists from the years 2008-2013, containing the names and schools of over 23,000 individual students. These lists are drawn from twenty-five different states, including all eight of the most populous, together representing almost 75 percent of America’s total population.

In analyzing this large dataset, I first grouped the NMS lists by state, and after performing the analyses discussed below on an individual list basis, then averaged all the percentages for each state, thereby producing individual state figures. The results for each state are thus based on tens or even hundreds of thousands of tested students and hundreds or thousands of resulting NMS semifinalists; therefore, in most cases the results for different years are usually reasonably similar, with aggregation across multiple years obviously tending to further reduce the random error.

Since East Asian and Hispanic names are extremely distinctive, and the same is true to a somewhat lesser extend for South Asians and Jews, these state lists were individually inspected, and estimated totals for each of these different groups determined, with somewhat ambiguous names assigned a partial weight. Because East Asians were discovered to be an enormously over-represented group, a few particularly ambiguous names such as “Lee” were generally assumed to be of that background. Although this process was necessarily somewhat subjective, I consider it unlikely that any other careful examiner would produce totals greatly different from my own, and I am providing links to all the lists, allowing other interested parties to examine those lists and verify my own estimates.

The findings of this direct-inspection approach may be extended and confirmed by using a name-frequency analysis similar to that pioneered by Nathaniel Weyl, in which the prevalence of names of uniquely distinctive ethnicity is compared with their prevalence in the general population.

For example, the surname “Nguyen” is uniquely Vietnamese and “Kim” uniquely Korean. The relative prevalence of these particular names among those groups in America can be found by considering the number of such names in the public Census data with the sizes of the two ethnic groups in question. The 2000 Census lists 310,125 Nguyens, or about 1 in 3.6 of the total Vietnamese population of 1,122,528. Meanwhile, there were 194,067 Kims, representing 1 in 5.5 of the 1,076,872 Koreans. Therefore, determining the number of Nguyens and Kims in a state’s NMS semifinalist lists allows us to roughly estimate the total number of Vietnamese and Koreans, though obviously the size of the random error would be much larger than for most of our other calculations.

Similarly, we can perform the same population estimate using distinctly Jewish last names, such as the small set of Cohen, Kaplan, Levy, and “Gold—“ (J1) which were suggested by blogger Steve Sailer and his Jewish correspondent, or else extended to include the full set of such names (J2) utilized by Weyl by adding Berman, Bernstein, Epstein, Friedman, Greenberg, Katz, Levine, Rosenberg, and Stern. Based on the 2000 Census estimates, the first group includes approximately 1 in 20 American Jews, while the larger set raises the fraction to 1 in 12. The prevalence of these names allows us to semi-independently confirm the estimated Jewish name-by-name counts obtained by direct inspection, though once again we might expect a significant random error since the numbers are extremely small for most individual states, so use of the results produced by this method should probably be restricted to the aggregate total across all the available states.

Estimated NMS Semifinalists for Available States, 2008-2013

State 2011 Total N/J White Asian Korean Viet. Jewish J1 J2
Alabama/2008,2010

208

83%

14%

2%

1%

2%

Arizona/2013

342

68%

26%

4%

4%

5%

California/2010,2012

1,999

37%

58%

10%

2%

4%

Colorado/2012-2013

256

78%

14%

6%

7%

Florida/2008-2013

867

74%

13%

1%

1%

8%

Illinois/2011-2013

693

71%

21%

3%

0.5%

8%

Indiana/2010,2012-13

327

75%

18%

2%

5%

Iowa/2011

191

80%

15%

4%

Kansas/2011

159

87%

9%

4%

Louisiana/2013

190

76%

19%

3%

5%

Maryland/2010

327

57%

32%

3%

11%

Michigan/2012,2013

570

68%

30%

2%

2%

Minnesota/2010,2011

318

81%

13%

2%

6%

Missouri/2011

344

87%

11%

2%

Nevada/2010,2011

85

67%

20%

3%

9%

New Mexico/2011

99

76%

11%

5%

6%

New York/2011,2012

957

45%

34%

8%

21%

Ohio/2012-2013

642

76%

20%

0.5%

4%

Oklahoma/2008

187

83%

14%

4%

3%

Pennsylvania/2012

700

72%

20%

2%

9%

Tennessee/2010

279

80%

17%

2%

Texas/2010

1,344

68%

28%

0.5%

2%

3%

Virginia/2008-2009

411

74%

19%

6%

2%

6%

Washington/2013

344

64%

31%

8%

5%

Wisconsin/2012

324

87%

11%

2%

3%

Eight Largest States

7,772

59%

33%

4%

1%

7%

8%

8%

25 State Aggregate

12,163

65%

28%

4%

1%

6%

6%

7%

National Estimate

16,317

67%

26%

4%

1%

6%

6%

6%

The individual figures for the National Estimate are derived by extrapolating the racial or ethnic totals for the twenty-five available states. All values above 1% are rounded to the nearest 1%, while those below are rounded to the nearest 0.5%.

Consider the total sum of the estimated number of Jewish names across the 25 state lists produced by direct inspection. If we compare this figure with the estimates produced by the J1 and J2 processes, the results are within 1% and 3% respectively, remarkably consistent given the significant expected random error, which therefore tends to confirm the validity of the separate methodologies employed.

In the American context, non-Hispanic “whites” are defined as those individuals who are not black, Asian, Hispanic, or American Indian. As mentioned, Hispanic names are quite distinctive, and their numbers can easily be determined by direct inspection. These vary considerably by state, and an extrapolated national total may be estimated. Neither black nor American Indians names are highly distinctive, but the combined total size of these groups is considerably smaller than the Hispanic total, and their weighted-average academic performance also considerably lower; therefore, we would expect their aggregate numbers to be much smaller than the Hispanic total, allowing us to easily assign an upper bound to the combined total of these three groups, and provide a good estimate of the net white numbers. Finally, the Jewish totals can be subtracted from this figure to yield the estimates for non-Jewish whites.

 

Major Sources of Likely Error

Our primary interest is estimating the overall national percentages of the high performing students in each of these various racial and ethnic groups, and we must extrapolate these results from the limited available subset of NMS semifinalist lists for twenty-five states. Fortunately, these states include the eight largest in population, and also the overwhelming majority of the national totals for the Jewish, Asian, and Hispanic populations. These percentages, based on the 2010 Census figures, are shown in the table below:

Percentage of Particular Groups Included in Our Available States

Aggregate Group Overall Jewish Asian Hispanic Chinese Korean Viet.
Eight Largest States 47% 68% 61% 69% 66% 56% 63%
Total of 25 States 75% 81% 80% 87% 81% 79% 85%

 

Using these population ratios, we can easily extrapolate the total number of national NMS semifinalists for each of these groups, and thereby obtain national percentage estimates.

However, in performing this analysis, we should bear in mind the possible sources of substantial error, above and beyond the sort of statistical errors due to sample size.

First, we are lacking the NMS semifinalist lists for several sizable East Coast states, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, which together with California and Maryland regularly represent the five highest performing PSAT states, based on NMS qualification threshold. These three states also contain over one-eighth of all American Jews, as well as large numbers of American Chinese, Koreans, and Asians in general. If the relative performance of ethnic groups in these states differed substantially from the pattern in the states whose lists we possess, our national extrapolations might be somewhat distorted. Such regional variations are quite possible, since Asians tend to outperform Jews by a factor of three in California, but by less than a factor of two in New York or Florida, while Jews actually do much better in Virginia. However, since the states whose data we do have already account for roughly 80% of both the Jewish and Asian populations, such adjustments would probably not be large.

A much more significant issue is the widely different semifinalist selection criteria across the states, with huge differences in qualification thresholds between states such as California and Massachusetts, with very high cut-off scores of 220, and states such as Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, whose qualification scores of around 200 are near the bottom. The crucial point is that we are merely using these NMS semifinalist lists as a proxy to estimate the distribution of America’s highest-performing students on academic ability tests, and if only a small fraction of the semifinalists from the bottom half of the states would have qualified in California, our national estimates may be significantly distorted.

In particular, California is America’s most heavily Asian mainland state, containing one-third of our entire Asian population, and partly as a consequence has an extremely high qualification threshold. Thus, although California provides nearly 1,200 Asian semifinalists, that figure would surely be much higher if there were a uniform national qualification threshold, so our national estimates of the Asian percentage of high-ability students probably represent a significant underestimate of the true figure.

This impact of these varied thresholds may be seen when we consider the relative performance of other groups. For example, New York and California are the two states with the largest number of Jews, but New York Jews are almost twice as likely to achieve semifinalist status as their California cousins. Similarly, California and Texas contain the two largest populations of Hispanics, both overwhelmingly Mexican-American, but Texas Hispanics are almost three times as likely to be NMS semifinalists. These large discrepancies are probably less due California Jews or Hispanics being much dimmer or lazier, than that California’s required qualification scores are so much higher.

As a partial counter-weight to this, Hawaii is half or more Asian, and its unimpressive semifinalist threshold of 211 would tend to imply that the academic performance of its Asian population is far below the norms of other states; but since less than 5% of Asians live on those islands, the national impact would not be large.

Finally, there is the much broader question of the possible intrinsic bias of the NMS semifinalist qualification criteria as a true measure of academic aptitude. After 1997 the NMS Corporation began double-weighting the Verbal component of the PSAT exam in selecting NMS semifinalists, a decision which obviously much advantaged those groups which are particularly strong in Verbal and disadvantaged those with weaker Verbal performance. And like the SAT itself but unlike a regular IQ test, the PSAT has never included a Visuospatial component, with such absence obviously benefiting those groups whose Visuospatial skills are weak and hindering those with strong ability in that area. Indeed, an intriguing thought-experiment is to consider the likely distribution of NMS semifinalists if these seemingly arbitrary decisions had been reversed, and semifinalist qualification were based on a double-weighted Visuospatial score but excluding any Verbal one.

 

PRIMARY BIBLIOGRAPHY:

The Creative Elite in America (1966) Nathaniel Weyl
The Geography of American Achievement (1989) Nathaniel Weyl

Links to 43 State NMS Semifinalist Rosters, 2008-2013:

State Year Link
Alabama 2008 http://tinyurl.com/bz7lnwt
2010 http://tinyurl.com/a8spy5w
Arizona 2013 http://tinyurl.com/b7e3kou
California 2010 http://tinyurl.com/2foy2b7
2012 http://tinyurl.com/ajtpanp
Colorado 2012 http://tinyurl.com/bzxal3e
2013 http://tinyurl.com/batzrht
Florida 2008 http://tinyurl.com/acaplhe
2009 http://tinyurl.com/apak264
2010 http://tinyurl.com/azg9lbo
2011 http://tinyurl.com/a7wwcfy
2012 http://tinyurl.com/bhy8unj
2013 http://tinyurl.com/agbb38z
Illinois 2011 http://tinyurl.com/afwd6cl
2012 http://tinyurl.com/b7z6j2e
2013 http://tinyurl.com/au3c2wk
Indiana 2010 http://tinyurl.com/cmjd2ho
2012 http://tinyurl.com/bh6m6a5
2013 http://tinyurl.com/bgjb32f
Iowa 2011 http://tinyurl.com/bctaykq
Kansas 2011 http://tinyurl.com/b8mnr99
Ohio 2012 http://tinyurl.com/akjsjve
2013 http://tinyurl.com/akoo2q3
Oklahoma 2008 http://tinyurl.com/a9a6x55
Louisiana 2013 http://tinyurl.com/awvc34h
Maryland 2010 http://tinyurl.com/ah4stmv
Michigan 2012 http://tinyurl.com/3eso9ve
2013 http://tinyurl.com/beucyy8
Minnesota 2010 http://tinyurl.com/a8xmf3j
2011 http://tinyurl.com/azc3gnr
Missouri 2011 http://tinyurl.com/azmdk9h
Nevada 2010 http://tinyurl.com/at82rt4
2011 http://tinyurl.com/am7jkvx
New Mexico 2011 http://tinyurl.com/bbz4yo8
New York 2011 http://tinyurl.com/au99m9k
2012 http://tinyurl.com/93xd6qx
Pennsylvania 2012 http://tinyurl.com/b5gg5z6
Tennessee 2010 http://tinyurl.com/ay9cjo2
Texas 2010 http://tinyurl.com/a7kur78
Virginia 2008 http://tinyurl.com/a74z3s7
2009 http://tinyurl.com/2b5za88
Wisconsin 2012 http://tinyurl.com/ajenrnp
Washington 2013 http://tinyurl.com/ayvyf9a

Addendum: After publication of this article, the hundreds of energetic Internet commenters who analyzed and critiqued my findings managed to locate one additional state NMS semifinalist list, supplementing the 43 that I had used.  The list contains the 2009 semifinalists from Massachusetts, and may be found at http://tinyurl.com/cbtp4ph.

My estimate of the ethnic distribution of that list is approximately 24% Asian, 19% Jewish, and 57% non-Jewish white, while the 2011 NMS semifinalist total for Massachusetts was 355.  Incorporating this additional list produces no significant change in my overall results.

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Appendix F: Winners of Leading Academic Competitions

Complete or partial rosters of the American winners of various academic competitions are available on various Internet websites and may be examined to estimate the distribution of ethnicities. The tables estimating the ethnic distribution are provided immediately afterward. These include:

The U.S. Mathematics Olympiad, 1974-2012:

http://www.imo-official.org/country_individual_r.aspx?code=USA

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1970s 56% 0% 44%
1980s 54% 9% 37%
1990s 45% 27% 28%
2000s 43% 53% 3%
2010s 28% 72% 0%

The Putnam College Math Competition, 1938-2011:

http://www.maa.org/awards/putnam.html

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1938-49 59% 0% 41%
1950s 66% 3% 31%
1960s 76% 2% 22%
1970s 69% 0% 31%
1980s 75% 2% 24%
1990s 44% 24% 31%
2000s 52% 37% 12%
2010s 50% 50% 0%

The U.S. Physics Olympiad winners, 1986-2012:

http://www.aapt.org/

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1980s 49% 23% 28%
1990s 55% 25% 20%
2000s 46% 46% 9%
2010s 14% 81% 5%

The U.S. Computing Olympiad, 1992-2012:

http://www.usaco.org/index.php?page=history

The U.S. Biology Olympiad, 2003-2012:

http://www.ibo-info.org/ibo-results-and-awards

The U.S. Chemistry Olympiad, 2011-2012:

http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content

Competition N/J White Asian Jewish
Computing, 1992-2012 62% 27% 11%
Biology, 2003-2012 25% 68% 8%
Chemistry, 2011-2012 10% 90% 0%

 

The Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search, 1942-2012:

http://www.societyforscience.org/sts/history

STS Finalists

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1940s 83% 0% 17%
1950s 78% 1% 22%
1960s 76% 1% 23%
1970s 70% 8% 22%
1980s 55% 22% 23%
1990s 54% 29% 17%
2000s 49% 36% 15%
2010s 29% 64% 7%
Top STS Winners

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1940s 71% 0% 29%
1950s 85% 0% 15%
1960s 82% 3% 15%
1970s 62% 11% 27%
1980s 45% 26% 30%
1990s 55% 25% 20%
2000s 58% 21% 21%
2010s 47% 50% 3%

The Siemens AP Awards, 2002-2011:

http://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/advanced_placement.htm

N/J White Asian Jewish
2002-2011 31% 61% 8%

Appendix G:  Roster of Harvard College Phi Beta Kappa Inductees, 1966-2012

Approximately 10% of each graduating class at Harvard College receives the academic distinction of being inducted into the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society, and the Harvard rosters of the last fifty-odd years, containing the names of over 7200 top performing Harvard undergraduates, are all available on the Internet:

http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k19082&pageid=icb.page189954

The selection process is not entirely objective and the requirement that the distribution of inductees match the distribution of student concentrations may somewhat distort the results. Nonetheless, these lists probably constitute one of the few publicly available datasets of top performing Harvard undergraduates for the last half-century. In addition, roughly the top 1.5% of each class receives the special distinction of being elected to PBK in their junior year, and the rosters indicate these highest-performing PBK members for the years 1966-1982 and 2000-2012.

The same sort of surname analysis used for other high-performance datasets may be applied to these rosters, and compared to Harvard’s contemporaneous underlying ethnic percentages to gain insight into the relative performance of different groups, and the results are presented below. However, utilizing this type of analysis at the college level, especially in the last two decades presents greater difficulties and challenges than in the various high school cases we have also considered.

First, the percentage of foreign students enrolled at Harvard College rose from approximately 5-6% of each class during 1980-2001 to an average of about 8-10% since then. An unknown but very substantial fraction of these foreign students have been of East or South Asian ancestry, hence their names would often be indistinguishable from those of Asian-American students on the rosters, and would tend to augment the apparent contribution of the latter, while another substantial fraction would be of non-Jewish European ancestry, having a similar impact.

Furthermore, any of the sort of Eastern European or Germanic surnames which in America often imply Jewish origins are quite common among Gentiles in many parts of Europe, and might easily be misidentified as being Jewish.

For these reasons, the estimates I have made are probably much less reliable than when a similar process was employed in analyzing the rosters of Appendices E and F, and others who examine the raw data would surely produce somewhat different findings. However, the results and the broad trends which they indicate are still worth considering.

Total PBK Selections

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1960s 68% 1% 31%
1970s 55% 3% 41%
1980s 63% 10% 26%
1990s 57% 23% 19%
2000s 60% 23% 16%
2010s 54% 34% 11%

[* = Based on years 1980-1982]

Junior Year PBK Selections

Period N/J White Asian Jewish
1960s 41% 0% 59%
1970s 41% 3% 56%
1980s 59%* 6%* 35%*
1990s
2000s 54% 25% 21%
2010s 39% 49% 13%

As already mentioned, these results may be somewhat contaminated, especially in the last decade, by the presence of foreign students. To some extent, first names might be used as a filter to attempt to exclude these, but in many cases those of first generation immigrants would be indistinguishable, rendering such a process ineffective. Therefore, let us simply analyze these results, recognizing a significant level of likely inaccuracy.

First, during most of the 1960s and early 1970s Harvard was roughly 25-30% Jewish, declining to about 20% Jewish by 1979. Meanwhile, the Jewish PBK numbers were far above this level, generally running at 40% during the 1970s, and close to 60% of the most academically elite Junior Year PBKs throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as much as three times their share of Harvard undergraduates. Clearly, Harvard Jews were extremely successful academically, far superior to the much larger number of their non-Jewish white classmates.

Although Jewish enrollment seemed to decline to about 20% of Harvard students during the 1980s, their relative academic performance remained quite strong, accounting for much more than their share of the PBK selections and for the years 1980-1982 nearly twice the expected number of Junior Year PBKs. However, during this decade, the relative performance of both Asians and non-Jewish whites had become roughly comparable, at least with regard to regular PBK selections, and in fact the Jewish numbers began noticeably falling off toward the end of the decade, even though Jewish enrollment did not.

During the 1990s, this Jewish academic decline continued, with Jews remaining as 20-25% of the students, but a lower fraction of the PBKs, with the results for the second half of the decade being far below that of the first half. Asians (including foreign students) were perhaps about 20% of enrollment during these years, but they gained a larger share of PBKs, while non-Jewish whites (including foreigners) showed by far the best performance, being only about 30-35% of the undergraduates, but gaining nearly twice as many PBK selections.

During the 2000s, these trends continued, with Jewish enrollment rising from 21% to 25%, while Jewish PBKs fell to just 16%, once again higher at the beginning of the decade than at the end; thus, Jewish PBKs dropped even as Jewish numbers increased. Asians continued to gain more than their share of PBKs, while non-Jews greatly strengthened their lead in PBKs and Junior Year PBKs, even as their numbers continued to fall, becoming nearly three times as likely to gain the PBK distinction as their Jewish classmates, a total reversal of the superiority which Jewish students had once enjoyed.

By the late 2000s and early 2010s, Jewish students had become one of the academically weakest groups at Harvard, constituting 25% or more of all students, but just 11-13% of PBKs selections. Meanwhile, during the 2010s the average Asian student was nearly 300% more likely to make PBK, with their proportion of Junior Year PBKs running even higher. And white Gentiles seemed to perform best of all, being about 400% more likely to gain PBK honors than their Jewish classmates. Put another way, the reported number of Jewish and non-Jewish white undergraduates at Harvard is approximately equal, but five times as many of the latter appear to be ranked in the top 10% of their class academically.

Once again, these estimates of academic performance at Harvard strongly support the consistent hypothesis that over the last couple of decades, Jewish students have been admitted to Harvard out of all reasonable proportions to their academic performance or intellectual potential.

This historical pattern also helps to explain the confusion exhibited by a researcher such as Karabel. When he was named to Phi Beta Kappa as a member of the Harvard Class of 1972, probably 40% or more of his fellow PBK inductees were also Jewish, while the same was true for half of the students who had received that distinction in their Junior year; both these figures were twice or more the relative performance of his non-Jewish white classmates. He earned his Harvard Ph.D. in sociology during the mid-1970s, a period which probably represented the absolute peak of Jewish academic performance on campus. And Individuals have a natural tendency to assume that the world of their formative years remains forever unchanged.

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Appendix H: Relative Enrollment Figures at Ivy League and Other Universities

The estimated size of America’s college-age populations for racial and ethnic groups are provided in Appendix B, the racial and ethnic enrollment figures for various universities are provided in Appendices C and D, and the high-ability (top 0.5%) percentages of the college-age population are estimated in Appendix E based on the NMS semifinalist lists.

By combining these figures, we may produce estimates of the relative enrollment ratios for different racial and ethnic groups, both with respect to the size of the total college-age populations and the high ability college-age populations.

Enrollment Ratios 2007-11, Relative to Age 18-21 National Population

University N/J White Asian Jewish Hispanic Black
Harvard

32%

348%

1,386%

42%

49%

Yale

35%

301%

1,376%

48%

50%

Princeton

64%

336%

701%

42%

52%

Brown

38%

317%

1,295%

49%

41%

Columbia

26%

346%

1,327%

64%

58%

Cornell

42%

347%

1,218%

38%

36%

Dartmouth

73%

298%

584%

41%

51%

Penn

29%

373%

1,421%

34%

48%

All Ivies

40%

340%

1,214%

43%

46%

MIT

48%

527%

499%

72%

50%

Stanford

49%

451%

531%

75%

57%

Caltech

59%

831%

297%

35%

6%

Berkeley

36%

851%

531%

64%

21%

UCLA

42%

784%

478%

85%

23%

Enrollment Ratios 2007-11, Relative to High Ability Age 18-21 National Population

University N/J White Asian Jewish NJW+Asian
Harvard

28%

63%

435%

51%

Yale

30%

55%

432%

49%

Princeton

55%

61%

220%

62%

Brown

33%

57%

407%

53%

Columbia

22%

63%

417%

44%

Cornell

36%

63%

382%

59%

Dartmouth

63%

54%

183%

67%

Penn

25%

68%

446%

51%

All Ivies

35%

62%

381%

54%

MIT

41%

96%

157%

63%

Stanford

42%

82%

167%

58%

Caltech

50%

151%

93%

80%

Berkeley

31%

154%

167%

73%

UCLA

36%

142%

150%

70%

California University Enrollment Ratios 2007-11, Relative to High Ability Age 18-21 California Population

University N/J White Asian Jewish NJW+Asian California Students
Stanford

76%

37%

222%

57%

38%

Caltech

90%

68%

124%

78%

31%

Berkeley

56%

69%

222%

71%

73%

UCLA

65%

64%

200%

69%

87%

Note that the four elite California universities of Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley, and UCLA draw very substantial fractions of their students from within the state. Therefore, the underlying population of high ability students against which their enrollment parity ratios should be calculated would be intermediate between the national and the California totals, and this is exactly what we find. For example, at Caltech, Berkeley, and UCLA, Asians are enrolled at roughly 142-154% of parity with respect to their national population of high ability college-age students, but just 64-69% of parity with respect to the California totals. Similarly, the non-Jewish white enrollments are very low relative to the national totals, but roughly similar to the Asian ratios with regard to the California figures.

 

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