Arguments that Asian Americans excel academically because of their cultural superiority are based on superficial arguments that fail to delve deeper into the issue, according to a blog in
Pacific Standard by Bettina Chang.
Efforts by Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld to associate academic achievement with race “focus on traits, behaviors, and values that some groups possess without considering how they emerge from a set of different circumstances for different groups,” says Jennifer Lee, professor of sociology at University of California-Irvine.
Lee says her study found Chinese in Spain hardly display the characteristics that are normally associated with the “model minority” stereotype. In fact she says second generation Chinese in Spain exhibit the lowest educational aspirations and expectations of all second generation groups.
Another study by Amy Hsin and Yu Xie, published in the scientific journal PNAS, concluded that merely saying Asian Americans excel because they work harder stops short of delving deeper into that theory. One also needs to determine where the work ethic originates. Asian Americans, Hsin and Xie say, are a large immigrant community and immigrants are “self-selected to be the most hard working and resilient people in their home countries.”
A separate study by Lee from UC Irvine determined that if you consider the educational level of the parents, Mexican Americans are more high achieving that Chinese Americans.
Chang’s argument also looks at the culture of poverty. You can read about that in Pacific Standard.