Sunday 25 September 2016

Will Turks show Syrians the way in Germany?


Judgments about the wisdom of the German government giving effective citizenship to over a million Syrians (more correctly people from the Muslim world who say that they are Syrians) should be informed by looking at the achievements of Turks in Germany. They began immigrating to Germany in October 1961, by invitation, to join the labour force, providing workers for the German economic miracle. By now, 56 years after the first wave of immigration, they should have integrated into the fatherland.

Since Germany does not officially categorise people by ethnicity, population estimates are approximate only, but there are now roughly 4 million Turks in Germany. In 2012 the figure for Middle East/North Africa was given as 3.8 million, virtually all of them Arabic. Presumably that will now be over 5 million. Since Turks and Syrians are close genetic neighbours, one can look ahead in time to see how well the Syrians will do by seeing how second generation Turks are doing now.

In terms of their PISA scores, not very well. Turkish children are better than first generation immigrants, but not enormously so, and certainly not at ethnic German standards.

Here are some results from:



Turks second gen results

On the bottom of the Table, men and women together, immigrants from Turkey have the lowest rates of Highest Certification, and are by far the most likely to have no certification. Indeed, they are 16 times more likely to have no certification than an ethnic German. These are not good results.

Progress has not been good with immigrants as a whole.

Migrant competence in Germany

In general, Second generation immigrants are only fractionally better than their First generation parents, and very far below the mean for ethnic Germans. If a foreign born immigrant marries a German, then it would appear that the “gap” is immediately reduced, and the resulting children are closer to the German norm, as would be expected on a genetic basis.

Needful to say, the author makes no reference to intelligence, or racial differences in intelligence. There are several references to the need for increased “support”. This has always been given, but more is always demanded.

The median IQ estimate for Turkey from the Lynn database is 89.

Turkey      92      D 48       84        Kagitcibasi, 1972

Turkey 2,272     SPM        90        Sahin & Duzen, 1994

Turkey    180    DAM         96       Ucman, 1972

Turkey 2,397    SPM          87       Duzen et al, 2008

As usual, it would be good to have more intelligence test results, but these are rarely funded in less wealthy countries, hence the reliance on anything one can glean from scholastic attainment results.

Prof Heiner Rindermann is the “man to go to” on this educational issue. He says:

In PISA 2006 second generation immigrants show somewhat worse results compared to first generation immigrants of the order of  12.75 SAS points or 1.91 IQ points. This refers to all immigrants, not only those from Turkey. For all immigrants the first generation are more from Russia, the second generation more from Turkey.

I read in an interview with Petra Satanat, PISA Germany (, on PISA 2006 that, regarding only Turkish immigrants, the second  generation students are better than the first generation students. But there were no numbers.

(I have looked at this in a rough translation, and the main point is that Turkish immigrants are two school years behind ethnic Germans. That way of putting it always makes people think that if they could only be given an extra two years at school, all would be well. Not so. This is an intelligence difference, and lower ability means a slower rate of learning, and less ability to generalize from instruction.)

He adds a reference in German: Klieme, E., Artelt, C., Hartig, J., Jude, N., Köller, O., Prenzel, M.,  Schneider, W. & Stanat, P. (2010). PISA 2009. Bilanz nach einem 
Jahrzehnt. Münster: Waxmann. p. 222

Turkish results in Germany 2009

The PISA results show:

2000 No increases for second generation Turks, or worse.
2009 Second generation Turks are slightly better than first generation, but with very 
small increases compared to immigrants from Russia-USSR and Poland.

The usual response to these sorts of results is to say that even more education should be offered to immigrants, particularly language teaching. In fact, the latter does not appear to be strongly related to scholastic attainments. It also leaves aside the question as to why other immigrants who initially do not know German do better than Turks.

Would the German government have been so keen to let in a million Syrians had they read the PISA results of second generation Turks? I would like to think that better understanding of these results might have had an impact. However, these high level policy matters are rarely based on factual considerations.

Prediction: 30 years from now people will be demanding more educational support for Syrian children in Germany.


  1. People seems live fluctuating out of the ground during their lives without to know what they are really doing. The idea that education influence definitively the genotypical cognitive skills is at least dull.

    People all the time do what they want, included students.

    The common gap between teachers (~avg iq 110) and students (~avg iq 100, in the ''developed'' country) tends to be highly influent in the ''illusion of the education decisive--influence''.

    the common illusion among ''smart[er]'' that they can ''teach'' what they want to the other people and this people can become like them, ''smart[er]''.

    There is certainly some influence of the teacher but will be

    less than most people imagine

    individually assimetric (some people, specially some types of smart may be more uniquely influenced ''that teacher made me like the subject she/he taught)

    If people were more self-reflective they would less prone to trust in vague abstract assumptions just like ''education is highly influent to the [genotypical] intelligence''

  2. Germans invited labour force from Turkey in 1961 for the less skilled occupations. Recruited people were from the rural part of Turkey, so they maybe represented not the brightest part of the turkish population. I think the integration failure of this turkish subpopulation in Germany caused by this fact.
    And of course, only this selected turkish population is equal to the syrian median cognitive skills, the avereage IQ of turks must be much higher than this.

  3. I agree that one should look at the sector of each population drawn into working abroad, but if you look at the national IQ data the scholastic results seem a reasonable fit. If you look at the Rindermann data, to our surprise the average IQ figure is a pretty good fit, despite my thinking that it ought to depend on which sector of the distribution emigrated abroad.

  4. I dont have the url at the moment. The PISA document no. 33 "What do immigrant students tell us about the quality of education systems?" has a chart on the scores of Turkish immigrant students in various European countries. Germany already got relatively reasonably Turkish students (~420) compared to those for Austria (~380). The relatively better Turkish students in Netherlands (~440) were not that far behind the best from the former Yugoslavia(~455).


  5. > They began immigrating to Germany in October
    > 1961, by invitation, to join the labour force

    Turkey applied to be included in the German "Gastarbeiter" programme in the 1950ies, which was rejected by the Ministry of Economy after extensive studies predicted with spooky precision the negative outcome some decades later. As Turkey was an important ally in the cold war, having nukes and surveillance equipment stationed at the eastern border (the nukes that got traded against Russian nukes in Cuba later) the US intervened on its behalf. The application got transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister given the order to accept it.

    > providing workers for the German economic miracle
    A recurrent myth put forward by the German welfare industry and Turkish functionaries. The treaty was signed in 1961 but most Turks arrived in the late 60ies when the Wirtschaftswunder was pretty much over. In 1973 the programme was stopped by Social Democrat Willy Brandt because it became glaringly clear that these low-skilled workers weren't needed.

    Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 2009:
    - "Im Grunde genommen ging es ihm [dem damaligen Wirtschaftsminister Ludwig Erhard] darum, durch Anwerbung ausländischer Arbeitskräfte das Lohnniveau niedrig zu halten. Mir wäre stattdessen lieber gewesen, die deutschen Löhne wären gestiegen."

    "Basically he [the then Minister of Economy Ludwig Erhard] wanted to keep wages down by importing foreign labour. I would have preferred for the German wages to rise."

  6. I am most grateful for your informed content. A pleasure to have knowledgeable readers.

    1. I join Prof. Thompson in thanking you for providing this information.

  7. Iq and other school-esque stuff tends to analyse the combination between individual cultural accumulation (yes, culture is also the knowledge [very good, avg or stupid] it produce) or [part of] the phenotypical intelligence with genotypical intelligence, of course i'm talking about culturalized cognitive tests.

    More important than analyse people in comparative value we also should analyse ''them'' (and us) based on absolute/individually qualitative value and undoubtedly ''we'' will need to appeal to the ideals to the behavior and to the more purely cognitive ''things''.

    or not.

  8. The Italy-Poland gap is accounted for by Italian emigrants to Germany being exclusively low-skilled Southerners (consider average South Italy IQ is 90).

    1. "Would the German government have been so keen to let in a million Syrians had they read the PISA results of second generation Turks? I would like to think that better understanding of these results might have had an impact."

      I sometimes wonder whether you can really presume all the good faith, even heroism, you display your presumption of in people. I tend to think it's only urbanity, though.
      We are "governed" by fellows who'd swap the destiny of their grandchildren (when they have any) with holding their chairs for one more year, or a prize like the Coudenhove-Kalergi's (take some informations on the Count, and consider Van Rompuy and Merkel have been awarded the honour of the Foundation's prize).

      "Needful to say, the author makes no reference to intelligence, or racial differences in intelligence. There are several references to the need for increased “support”. This has always been given, but more is always demanded."

      The absolute denial of the state of things in this regard drives you to discount the importance of teaching and teacher quality for all people.
      I stand on the border between tribe 4 (Out Ahead) and tribe 5 (Yours to Lose) and can tell you that studying in "schools" designed for a 90 mean IQ people, with their 100-110 IQ "teachers" and the dumbed-down "books" they used — and on top of that the unavoidable general laziness in such environments — damaged my learning considerably.

      I think your lying way higher in the tribe ranking may obfuscate your view of this matter.
      We in Tribe #4, even at the very high end of it, have great need for teachers, books, lessons, suiting our degree of cognitive aptness.

      Whenever I read you discounting the importance of schooling quality I go through recollection of all the harm I received from schooling that was really unsuited for me.
      And how, without the Internet, there would be very little chance for anybody in Tribe #4 — but even for some in low-to-middle Tribe #5, to escape analphabetism.

      Professor, you have too little experience of median IQ 90 environments, I hypothesize.

    2. Your comment, anon, makes me wonder whether "schooling doesn't matter" results are heavily biased by range restriction.

  9. Turks have been a disaster for Germany. Iranians typically do well academically and economically though.

    What is surprising is the Italian figure. Why do they perform so badly? If it's because they're from the south, then why do Italian-Americans do well for themselves? 84% of Italian-Americans have roots in southern Italy and Sicily, yet they do fine for themselves.