March 26, 2017

The Flaws of Meritocratic Immigration

The most compelling alternative to ethnic nationalism is what we might call “meritocrat” or “individualist” nationalism. This is a system in which people are allowed to migrate to a country on a meritocratic basis. In other words, whether a person is allowed to come into a country is solely determined by whether they are, in some respect, good enough. In the real world, these meritocratic criteria usually have to do with occupational status, health, and income. In theoretical discussions, the idea of only letting immigrants in who have a certain IQ score is also often brought up.

This proposal has many attractive qualities. The most often cited problems with immigration, welfare abuse, crime, political ideology, etc., could seemingly be avoided by only allowing certain kinds of immigrants in. Why, then, should we care about what ethnic or racial group an immigrant belongs to?

Regression to the mean

The first reason has to do with “regression to the mean”. This term refers to the fact that when parents are exceptional in some trait their offspring tend to be more average (closer to the mean) than they are. This is because exceptionality in traits is normally caused by a mixture of genes and environment and parents can only reliably pass on genes to their children. This phenomenon, known since the 19th century, is well studied and derivable from basic concepts in behavioral genetics.

This has a clear and obvious implication on immigration: the children of immigrants will often not be as exceptional as their parents are. This means that if we, for instance, require that immigrants are at the 85th percentile or higher in terms of both income and IQ that their offspring may end up being well less than the 85th percentile in these same traits. Thus, an elite 1st generation immigrant population may end up creating a less than elite 2nd or 3rd generation immigrant population. (More on this here.)

Ethnic Diversity

Another problem with meritocratic immigration is that it does not necessarily offset the problems inherent to ethnic diversity. For instance, research has shown that ethnically diverse groups trust each other less and get along less well with one another. Because of this, diverse communities tend to have lower levels of social cohesion which in turn make people unhappy (Last, 2016a). The negative impact of ethnic diversity on trust has even been shown in experiments in which the participants were White and Asian Harvard students, meaning that this problem persits even when everyone involved is extremely elite (Glaeser et al., 2000).

The distrust and lack of social cohesion that ethnic diversity brings also causes people to clamor for bigger government and damages networking. This is why ethnic diversity predicts lowered economic growth, bigger government, and more corruption, even after controlling for a host of other variables (Alesina et al., 2002).

Diversity also has a negative impact on children. While there are many successful mixed race individuals, the data clearly shows that being of mixed racial ancestry is a risk factor for a variety of negative outcomes.

For instance, Udry et al. (2003) looked at kids from 80 schools between grades 7 and 12 and found that biracial kids were more likely than monoracial blacks, whites, and Asians, to smoke, drink, consider suicide, be in poor physical health, skip school, and be suspended. It also found that, compared to Asians and Whites, but not Blacks, they were more likely to have sex and repeat grades. These negative outcomes were found among mixed race children that were black/white, Asian/white, and Asian/black.

That the children were more at risk for many negative outcomes than monoracial children of any group is important because it suggests that mixed race individuals are at a greater risk than would be predicted by the individual traits of their parents. Thus, mixed race children of elite immigrants may have, on average, worse life outcomes than both the elite immigrant group as well as a nation’s native population.

Yet another impact of diversity concerns democratic politics. Minority groups tend to group together and vote monolithically relative to the countries natives. We see this in the United States, where Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks, all tend to vote democrat, and to favor government policies such as economic interventionism and hate speech laws which disproportionately harm White Americans and benefit minorities.

Bigger vs Smaller Government

Last (2016b)

Hate Speech

Last (2016b)

This allows democrats to win elections simply by altering the ethnic composition of the nation via lax immigration laws. In fact, in modern America democrats virtually never win the White vote nationally and, instead, rely on minorities to win elections.


Of course, the meritocratic nationalist can respond by saying that we can screen immigrants based on their political views, but, sadly, this isn’t enough. In the United States, minorities who self-identify as conservative, who favor smaller government, and are socially conservative, still vote democrat (Last, 2016c). In politics, for minorities, ethnicity trumps policy.  Thus, screening people based on policy preferences will not stop them from voting against the majority.

The West Factor

So far, the problems I’ve discussed with meritocratic nationalism apply to all nations equally, but there is also a problem which applies only to the West. As detailed elsewhere, quantitative analyses have shown that the vast majority of scientific innovation in human history has come from Western nations, and Western nations have usually been the richest nations on the planet. In short, Western nations have been the most successful ones.

Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly why. The West does not score as high as East Asian nations on measures of general intelligence, nor did it start civilization as early. The West does score more highly on measures of individualism, and this in turn correlates with national wealth and innovation, but this is unlikely to explain all of the West’s relative success (Last, 2016d).

This poses a problem for meritocratic nationalism: if we allow non-Westerner’s to immigrate into Western nations at a high enough rate such that they cause the West to, at least partially, assimilate to their culture rather than the other way around, the West may lose whatever features have caused it to achieve what it has, and this, in turn, would threaten the future progress of humanity as a whole. We cannot avoid this by screening immigrants because, frankly, we wouldn’t really know what to screen them for. We would, for instance, not know how to screen out those high achieving Japanese individuals who would make the west too much like Japan, which is a fine country but which has contributed very little to global progress relative to the West. As of now, the only way we know of to maintain the essence of Western civilization is by keeping its population Western.

Cultural Preservation 

Of course, the West is not the only culture with institutions which its inhabitants which to preserve. Other cultures may not have achieved as much in science or the economy, but it may still have traditions which its natives wish to keep simply because they feel like home. Such traditions can involve how people dress, the way they talk, what they eat, what music they listen to, people’s mannerisms, what they do for work and for how long they do it, what kind of god they believe in, etc.

New cultures can be fun to explore, but after a while most people long for the society they grew up in. There is nothing shameful in that. Being surrounded by foreign customs and foreign people can feel alienating.  In fact, polls show that most Americans today say that they feel alienated from society, and one-third of Germans say that they feel like strangers in their own country specifically due to Islamic immigrants (Culberston, 2016; Audacious Epigone, 2016).


In conclusion, there are several good reasons to think meritocratic, or individualist, based immigration policies will lead to less than desirable outcomes. These policies typically screen participants in a way that ignores the effect that their offspring will have on the future population given that they will regress towards averageness. They also ignore the problems that ethnic diversity has been shown to cause with respect to social cohesion, the economy, families, and politics, as well as the natural human desire to live in a society which feels familiar. These individualist policies are especially irresponsible when applied to the west which has a set of cultural traditions and population characteristics which have allowed it to achieve so much for humanity. Counter intuitive as it may seem, filling a society with individuals who, in isolation, are all top notch may lead to a less than top notch society.

However, ethnically informed immigration policies can still be meritocratic. When a White nation chooses which immigrants to accept from other White countries, it should choose immigrants which will benefit the native country.

Further more, a small number of non-Whites can be allowed in a White nation without causing the aforementioned problems. At some level of eliteness, the net benefits of immigrants will outweigh the costs of diversity, and their children will still be far above average even after regressing towards the mean. Moreover, a small number of minorities in a nation comprised of Whites who will self-consciously defend their own interests will not threaten the character of a nation’s culture or institutions. Historically, many nations, such as the United States and Britain, had significant minority populations while maintaining an explicitly White (or Anglo) culture which immigrants were made to assimilate into (to the degree that they could) and immigration policies aimed at ensuring that White nations kept their White supermajority.

Thus, the ethnic and meritocratic nationalists can meet each other half way. White nations can allow the immigration of a significant number of elite Europeans and a much smaller number of extremely elite non-Europeans while still maintaining a low level of national ethnic diversity. Such immigration policies can easily satisfy a nation’s need for high quality people, it isn’t as if there is a lack of high IQ, high income, people in Europe, while also satisfying the ethnic nationalists need for a  sense of racial and cultural homogeneity.

Facebook Comments
  • Frank Jamger

    Another thing: I doubt there is an accurate way to test a person’s character; his genetic propensities for traits such as trust, compassion, and impulse control. Indicators such as school grades and criminal record won’t tell the whole story. ‘Passing’ nonwhite individuals would still likely have the inclinations of their race.

    • Emil Kirkegaard

      If you think these are highly heritable traits, then one can just screen immigrants based on genetic tests.

      • Kaber

        That requires the rejection of the Blank Slate.

      • Frank Jamger

        The point is that devising accurate genetic tests for difficult-to-measure character traits is likely impractical. Identifying genetic markers for IQ, something reasonably measurable, is proving very difficult. I think that only a few percent of its variance has been thereby explained.

        • Emil Kirkegaard

          I disagree. Finding the variation for g is proving fairly easy. The main reason for slow progress is that 1) researchers use the wrong methods (non-penalized methods), which is partially a result of 2) lack of data sharing.

          However, with the growing sample sizes and the open science movement, both problems are being rapidly overcome. Last educational GWAS had n=290k.

          R2 is the wrong metric. You should look at r. That’s the predictive validity which is what is needed in practice. Last study that used the education polygenic scores achieved an r of about .30. That’s pretty good.

          We will have practically applicable genetic models (defined as r ≥ .50) for these traits within 10 years (95% prediction).

        • Kenneth Bruskiewicz

          Everything is a genetic marker for intelligence. Expression of the trait is distributed across the genome. Unsure if this holds for empathy et al but AFAIK they are also heritable (genes explain ~63% of variance).

  • David Hollizzle

    The most successful meritocratic immigration nation is Singapore, which has ethno-nationalist roots.

    A small number of elite nonwhites on a large backbone of the a white supermajority is not the greatest ‘debunking’ of white nationalism ever, truth be told

    • Well, so long as we define “White nationalism” as the view that a nation’s population should be super majority White, and the government should work in that super majorities interest, having a small minority population is not necessarily at odds with White nationalism. When I think of White nationalism, I think of the traditional policies of White nations, which have virtually always included small ethnic minorities.

      • Marcus

        I don’t accept the ‘white countries have always had some ethnic minority populations’ argument. Two hundred years ago, what ethnic minorities did the UK, France, Sweden, etc. have?

  • Geiger

    However, ethnically informed immigration policies can still be meritocratic. When a White nation chooses which immigrants to accept from other White countries, it should choose immigrants which will benefit the native country.

    This appears to contradict point #1, as these white immigrants will be subject to regression to the mean as well.

    • blackacidlizzard

      Regression to mean isn’t a reset button, it’s a direction of flow. On average, children are between their parents and the mean. Parents below the mean will generally bear children below the mean. Consistently picking from one side of the mean will eventually change the mean that is regressed towards.

      • Geiger

        Okay so whats the point of #1?

        Also can u help me argue with this american arab guy on another disqus, hes bringing up anecdotes of black and arab engineers and doctors while saying whites are stupid and trumps base are meth smoking white trash. Now he uses statistics:

        On a statistical level West virginia, which is like 96% white and has zero immigration, is the poorest and least educated state in the union.

        Id start with this sites point that the poorest 10% of whites perform the same on their SATs as the top 10% of blacks (right?) but i dont know enough about the state economies to know why WI is “poorer” than more diverse states.. Dont wanna get caught assuming some shit about funding etc that isnt true..

        • Kaber

          >Also can u help me argue with this american arab guy on another disqus

          Tell him to go back to Arabia.

          >hes bringing up anecdotes of black and arab engineers and doctors

          Affirmative Action and other methods of minority pandering.

          >while saying whites are stupid

          Did you bother to point out IQ scores, billionares, income, and nobel prize holders in actual sciences? And the the lack of accomplishments by Blacks and Arabs in the actuall scies.

          > and trumps base are meth smoking white trash.

          Blacks and Hispanics abuse drugs more than Whites within America.

          >Now he uses statistics:

          >On a statistical level West virginia, which is like 96% white and has zero immigration, is the poorest and least educated state in the union.

          Blacks and Hispanics have significantly lower incomes and education performances than Whites. Not a single Black or Hispanic filled area outperforms West Virginia on these fronts controlling for race and population.

          >Id start with this sites point that the poorest 10% of whites perform the same on their SATs as the top 10% of blacks (right?) but i dont know enough about the state economies to know why WI is “poorer” than more diverse states..

          The diverse states largely consist of non-Asian minorities feeding off the help of Whites. Even then, a state like California has a significantly higher cost of living and noticeably worse fiscal solvency than a state like North Dakota.

          • Geiger


        • blackacidlizzard

          While West Virginia is a great illustrative example of the general truths about race and crime – it is not only the second poorest state, but also the state with the highest rate of opiate addiction, yet the state with the tenth lowest level of violent crime – West Virginia and western Virginia are a distinctly anomalous area which has remained sheltered from the American cultural diffusion of the past century more so than any other region. Not only does West Virginia stick out as the only very White state with such a low IQ, it is also the only very White state in the union where various measures of anti-Black racism are similar to the figures found in the deep south.

          Here’s the thing about pointing to West Virginia for statistical analysis of racial issues: When it comes to violent crime, west Virginia conforms with the overall trend. However, when it comes to IQ and some other issues, West Virginia is the tall chinaman – it’s an oddity whose insular culture has somehow (whether through genes or memes) brought forth a present that stands in contrast to the general trend of White attributes. You can’t argue that Blacks are smart because muh Neil Tyson, and you can’t argue that Whites are stupid because muh West Virginia.

          • Geiger


          • Geiger

            i wrote about what you said..

            Its not an anomoly. Kentucky, Tennesee, the entire Appalachian region is
            overwhelmingly white, under educated, under employed, and overly drug
            addicted. Crime by the way is under reported there because of the hill
            tradition of families setteling affairs without the law.
            And you can
            go to white places across the industrial Midwest, in New England, and
            in the Pacific Northwest and see the same thing. Whites are as prone to
            failure as anyone, despite the advantage of at least not having to face
            racial prejudice.

            seems like these “white trash” types are our weakness and ethnics can focus their fire on them as some kind of a distractor. like the smart, less pathological whites in cosmopolitan liberal nests aren’t the same race, and are teamed up with the minorities

            i would start with comparing murder rates of even WV (the “worst” of the white states) to national black or latino

            any other ideas? (he ignored my stats about poorest 10% whites beating richest 10% blacks)

          • Kaber

            >Its not an anomoly. Kentucky, Tennesee, the entire Appalachian region is
            overwhelmingly white, under educated, under employed, and overly drug

            1. Whites outperform non-Asian minorities in education. This holds even for lower income Whites.

            2. Whites are significantly more employed than Blacks and Hispanics.

            3. Blacks and Hispanics engage in drug crimes more than Whites controlling for population.

            >Crime by the way is under reported there because of the hill
            tradition of families setteling affairs without the law.

            Not a single White country has the crime levels of Mexico or South Africa:


            In America Blacks lead Whites in violent crime:



            Criminals have a habit of having significantly lower IQs:




            This goes in with the significantly lower IQs of Blacks and Hispanics.

            >And you can
            go to white places across the industrial Midwest, in New England, and
            in the Pacific Northwest and see the same thing.

            Meanwhile Non-Asian Minorities have significantly lower incomes and higher crime levels.

            >Whites are as prone to
            failure as anyone, despite the advantage of at least not having to face
            racial prejudice.

            The hordes of non-Asian minorities charged with crime, having lower IQs, and lower incomes point the other way.

          • Geiger

            thanks, i’ll try some of that
            if he keeps focusing on these poverty white states i’ll stop being lazy and do a side by side comparison of them vs DC or Georgia etc
            probably won’t matter since arabs are part of the coalition of the oppressed along with blacks even thought they were buying and selling them a few hundred years back lol

          • blackacidlizzard

            “Its not an anomoly. Kentucky, Tennesee, the entire Appalachian region is overwhelmingly white, under educated”

            That is false. Kentucky and Tennessee are not overwhelmingly White, and their IQ is what racial proportions would predict. This is simply a lie.



            “Crime by the way is under reported”

            That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Also, the culture of witness intimidation and “don’t snitch” in Black communities is well known, unlike this claim that comes out of nowhere.

            “you can go to white places across the industrial Midwest, in New England, and in the Pacific Northwest and see the same thing”

            No, you actually can’t. Look at those IQ maps again.

          • Geiger

            Lol.. Edit -> inverse colors basically.

            Thanks looks like this guy already gave up but ill bookmark that for later red pilling.

    • Europeans will regress towards a mean, sure. However, Europeans and Americans largely regress towards the same mean and so this is less problematic. Also, regression to the mean is a problem but it can be overcome, for Whites and non-Whites, but selecting sufficiently elite immigrants. The point in my bringing it up is that most people who advocate for meritocratic immigration systems do not take it into account and so set the bar for immigrants to low. Setting it higher is obviously possible, but it will lead to there being fewer immigrants.

      • Geiger

        i understand, but point #1 still doesn’t explicitly favor European/australian/south african etc immigrants. It is merely anti-immigration in general, implying that no matter how smart your immigrant is, his kids are statistically likely to be stupider, so what’s the point

        then with your Disqus comments counter this with “just select sufficiently elite immigrants, which will skew White anyway” – but leads you open for “why not just mass import even higher IQ east asians and jews” argument (without going into the detriments to trust in a diverse society that you address later), which at face value suggests that they would regress to a higher mean than many locals.

        • I don’t see where I said what you are quoting me as having said. An IQ threshold would certainly favor Jews and East Asians over Europeans. I never said otherwise. (Although, a test of individualism would not.)

          As I have explained, the point is that the thresholds proposed by many people are too low and this leads them to advocating larger waves of immigration than it is prudent to allow into a country.

          Also, regression to the mean is a bigger problem for non-Whites because non-Whites have to make up for the cost of ethnic diversity with their eliteness while Whites do not. (Or, at least, the costs of diversity are much lower in this case.)

          • Kaber

            The only Jews who score in the 100s are Ashkenazi.

  • Scott Graves

    Is there any reason we need immigration at all? Seriously? With all the issues that come up from trying to vet immigrants by skill set, ethnicity, religion, criminal background and whatever else why not just shut it down? Send all the INS workers home and hand over the job of booting illegals to the DHS and call it a day.

    • Marcus

      And with increasing automation, there will be fewer and fewer jobs for everyone. There is no need for immigration. It’s predicted that eight million jobs will ultimately be lost when self driving trucks are introduced into the US.

  • Blithering Genius

    I agree with most of what you say, but the decline of the West cannot be solved by ethnic or racial nationalism. It requires meritocracy to solve, in the form of eugenic immigration and reproduction policies.

    Whites don’t inherit from “the white mean” at birth, they inherit the genes of their parents. The traits of any population are determined by who reproduces. A monoracial society with zero immigration will not have a fixed average phenotype. The population will evolve. In a modern civilization with almost no child mortality, the traits of the population are determined by whatever increases fertility. Intelligence and creativity are not selected for.

    The real long-term problem is not immigration, or too much genetic diversity, it is dysgenic selection: the subsidization of unproductive and destructive people/traits.

    European exceptionalism is real, but not every white man is a Newton, Hume, Watt or Einstein. Keeping the West mostly white will not prevent decline. If you want to maintain the intelligence and creativity of Europeans, you need an environment that selects for those traits. Ethnic/racial nationalism is neither necessary nor sufficient for that.

    Our current immigration policies are not meritocratic/eugenic, but our reproduction policies are much worse. There is zero control over who comes in through a vagina.

    • Medieval Knievel

      Sorry but no. Iq isn’t the only thing that matters. Homogeneity is very important. Diversity is bad and has been contributing to the decline. Ethnic nationalism is necessary.

      • Blithering Genius

        I didn’t say that IQ is the only thing that matters. Eugenics isn’t about IQ, it is about selecting for the traits that make individuals productive, responsible members of society.

        You are just reciting mantras, not making an argument.

        • Medieval Knievel

          Your dumb comment makes it seem like you haven’t read this article. Sean says at the end that we can have a mixture of ethnic and meritocratic nationalism. You’re the one reciting mantras. People constantly use your dumb argument against ethnic nationalism.

          • Blithering Genius

            Thanks for demonstrating the necessity of eugenics. It becomes more urgent with every passing year.

          • Medieval Knievel

            Thanks for saying nothing original against ethnic nationalism.

          • Blithering Genius

            OK, just for fun, can you point me to someone making the same argument?

          • Medieval Knievel

            Anybody that’s against ethnic nationalism. They constantly say that shit. If you want me to link a particular situation, sorry but no I am not doing that.

          • Blithering Genius

            Yeah, that’s what I thought. You have no idea what the argument is. You just thought you recognized a pattern and responded with your standard mantras.

          • Medieval Knievel

            Yeah. Suuuuure buddy. Whatever you say.

    • Riopel

      Newton, Hume, or Watt could not have operated in a multiracial society. They would have been kept out of schools, denied jobs, etc. in favor of non-Whites. Homogeneity is a must.

  • J.j. Cintia

    Whites built America. There need not be any “immigration”. It wasn;t needed before and certainly is against American best interests now. Alt-West can SUCK IT. You want multi-racial, then go somewhere else. IQ is but one component. Society and Culture are a RACIAL CONSTRUCT. Society and Culture cannot be multi-racial.