The Two Factors of Overachievement
The path by which Chinese and Japanese overachieve compared to White Americans begins with achievement tests at school, passes through the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and university entrance, passes through the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and entry into graduate or professional schools, and culminates in their high occupational profile. However, to follow that path we need a guide in the form of working hypotheses. These can be derived by making explicit the assumptions that generate the Chinese and Japanese IQ/occupational achievement gaps; and stating hypotheses that challenge those assumptions.
First, the assumptions: Chinese, Japanese, and White Americans have the same IQ thresholds for various occupational categories; all three groups capitalize on those who meet the thresholds to the same degree. Second, two hypotheses that challenge those assumptions: Chinese and Japanese have lower IQ thresholds than Whites, for example, Chinese might qualify for a high status occupation with an IQ of 90 although Whites needed an IQ of 97; Chinese and Japanese have higher capitalization rates than Whites. By the latter, I mean that something like 78% of those who fall above the Chinese threshold for managerial, professional, and technical posts might in fact enter those occupations, although the figure for Whites was only 60%. In other words, thanks to a lower threshold, the Chinese may have a larger pool of those with the requisite IQ than we would expect; and as a group, the Chinese may capitalize on that pool of talent more effectively than Whites capitalize on their own pool.