Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I'm Reading: Triple Package

A few weeks ago I finished The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits predict the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.   The authors used the thesis that superiority in conjunction with inferiority and impulse control can explain the success of minority cultures in the US.   They highlight Cuban Americans, Mormons, American Jews and Iranian Americans and other groups.

The book was filled with interesting statistics.  Jewish people make up less than 1% of the total world population and have won more than 30% of Nobel prizes.  There are 14 Mormon senior executives on the list of Fortune 500 companies, a disproportionately high number and so on.  Rubenfeld and Chua theorize that personal traits, not IQ, genetics, inheritance or other calculable factors determine success.

Interestingly, they also theorize the very things that make "Americans" are in direct contrast to the Triple Package traits thus explaining why groups tend to be less successful as they assimilate into main stream American culture; case in point: the decline of White AngloSaxon Protestants.

The book had an interesting and well-done, socio-scientific thesis, but I never fully "bought into" the Triple Package traits being the answer.   I think there were overlooked factors - how does a person's risk tolerance factor into their success.  What role does necessity play?   The superiority/inferiority seemed like a stretch and while they never disproved it, they were not successful in thoroughly convincing me either.

The book did make a strong case for the continued need of America's pro-immigrant culture. Statistics throughout the book back that many of our most successful Americans are first and second generation immigrants.  I strongly believe that in order to keep America as the one of the greatest nations, we have to continue to support a culture of immigration and be willing to suffer with the negative consequences as an offset to the tremendous positive effects.  

I lean more towards Paul Tough's hypothesis of grit and familiarity with failure as being better indicators of success.  It's undeniable that the culture groups highlighted in the book are statistically outperforming the norm; I just doubt the Triple Package is the reason.