tv After Words CSPAN March 9, 2014 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT
respective success of the groups all three have a dark side that should be avoided. this program is about one hour. >> host: what is the triple package? >> guest: first of three qualities or elements that in combination propel individuals and certain groups to disproportionate success defined in a certain way. and the three elements of the triple package are descendents of exception maliki. you can get it from lots of different sources but it's a feeling that you are special and destined for special things. the second element is almost seemingly the opposite, and that is insecurity to offset that exception maliki. and that is a feeling that you haven't done quite good enough.
ago, amy, for the sense of inferiority. are they equally balanced or are there gradations here? >> guest: we haven't developed the metrics yet that would let us evaluate that. it's a great question though. what we do hi from our research is -- think from our research is if you pile on too much with any one of the elements, it produces bad results. it's part of what we discuss when we talk about the pa tholgs that the triple package can bring with it. boy, we have not figured out how to precisely measure it yet. >> guest: i mean, it's an interesting -- it's an original hypothesis. i think it has enormous power both for the groups that happen to be doing well right thousand and, actually, for individuals. you think of people who are very, very driven. but, of course, it's not a -- we haven't been able to test it in our laboratory. so we don't have, know how to calculate it exactly x that's
and that's actually the point of the book. it's dark sides, and it's psychological underpinnings. and we have a whole chapter on pathology which is, essentially, if you have too much of one or the other, it kind of doesn't work and really bad things happen, and even when they all are working together as this engine of achievement, that has its own pathologies. >> host: so talk about what kind of success you see coming out of the triple package. >> guest: sure. well, first of all, just to try to erase some possible misunderstandings, we do not define success as material wealth. i mean, the definition of success, as far as i'm concerned, is pretty simple. success means achieving your goals, whatever they are. we focus on certain conventional metrics of success like income, educational achievement in the first about six chapters of our book, and the reason for that is, well, it is an important goal for many people. and, second, it is the kind of thing you can measure. we do say, however, in the last
few chapters that, one, that kind of success is extremely narrow, two, we think that the triple package elements can actually assist people and empower them to achieve any kind of success, not the purely material kind. in fact, as individuals who have these quality withs grow up in america, they tend predictably second generation to have a kind of interesting, creative destruction relationship between their culture and american culture such that second generation in immigrant communities start very typically looking back at their parents' and grandparents' generation and saying, you know what the? we don't want to do success the way you told us to. we're not interested in those jobs that you said were the only ones with, and instead they make a their own decisions whether it's to be a stand-up comic or artist or something like that. and yet we found aspirationally at least these same qualities can help them do that and achieve very different kinds of goals. >> host: uh-huh. so let's talk about the part of the book that i think is most
controversial or that people are talking about which is your identification of particular groups as being embodiments of the triple package. so talk a little bit about which groups you identify and how that triple package manifests itself in their success. >> guest: okay. so we with -- this is a snapshot, you know? and i think that's part of the problem. people are saying you're saying these eight groups are better? of course, if you look at the title, it's about the rise and fall of cultural groups. so groups that are very, very driven and disproportionately successful change dramatically over time. you know, there were different groups ten years ago, there will be different groups ten years from now. ask we actually -- and we actually try to be very, very systematic. we relied kind of straight on census data. we calibrated our own income forgets, had a lot of research assistants working and were very transparent.
we're kind of going down the ancestry tables. so the census doesn't identify people by religion. that's not allowed anymore. and we explain which groups we exclude, for example, there's an english-americans category, and that's, like, 50 million people in it, and we weren't sure what that was capturing, and we also excluded groups that i think probably have the triple package, like latvian-americans and south african-americans because they were under 100,000. we didn't know what to do with a group of 50 people, you know? and i thought we were pretty sammatic, went straight down. we looked at eight groups that were most strikingly disproportionally successful aaccording to income, professional attainment. we chose those metrics because they're available, you know? it's very difficult to measure artistic success. i mean, although in our section on the jews, actually, most of our focus is on, you know, artistic and, you know, all kinds of different -- >> host: can i interrupt you for one secondsome.
>> guest: sure. >> host: six of the groups you identify are census-identified, mormons and jews are not. so with those how did you poll data? >> guest: we looked at alternative measures, and places like the pew foundation and independent researchers do put together income data, and they -- we, you know, we said these dates don't quite match up, but we tried to be pretty systematic, and it's all pretty transparent. in the case of the mormons, as we discussed, they actually don't have that disproportionately high house median income. and they, for one thing, when you talk about households, they're a much larger percentage of their women do not work. in fact, double the women are, you know, described as housewives. so that's one thing. but we actually chose that group as we describe because i think it's maybe the most upwardly-mobile group in america; that is, we compared the rates, the statistics 30 years ago. you could barely find a mormon on wall street. and, you know, we kind of lay
out all the different axes of their achievement right now including in business schools, law schools, professional schools. and so those are different categories. so those are the good -- we ended up looking at mormons and jews which are religious groups, nonimmigrant groups, and kind of going down the census tablings. indian-americans, very, very high income levels, remember these and iranian-americans just under that. chinese-americans, let's see, oh, then we also look at nigerian-americans and cuban-americans that -- and we also explained, i mean, they are just extreme outliers for their population groups and also very high rates of upward mobility and very, very strong educational performance. but as we say in the end notes, we could have looked at japanese-americans, you could have gone further down the list and, you know, but for space limitations we looked at these eight groups. >> host: so let's take -- pick one of your groups.
what's a your favorite group? >> guest: we could talk about the mormons? >> host: the mormons. how do we see the triple package in action with mormons in particular? >> guest: sure, great. so, you know, the starting point of our book was this remarkable fact which many people sense but we really documented it, that there are several groups that are really outperforming the national average in terms of to income and educational achievement. and amy just went true the ones that we focus on -- through the ones that we focus on. and we identified those independently as rigorously as we could. then we started looking at the groups, wondering, asking ourselves are we going to find any cultural commonalities? >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and before i get to mormons, why look for cultural commonalities? why not suppose there's something else going on that might explain their success? hopefully, we'll talk about -- [inaudible conversations] but just in a nutshell, if you look at something like asian-american academic success, you're instantly struck if you really do your homework in the
research by the finding that third generation asian-americans aren't outperforming the rest of the country whereas first and second generation asian-americans, they score 140 points higher on their s.a.t. on average than the rest of country. disproving the idea that it's biological, disproving genetic, you know, interrupting this whole model minority discourse and stereotype. but showing that there's something cultural going on in those groups, in the families. so that's our starting point is the thought, because we're ruling out alternative explanations that there's something going on in the culture. so we start looking at the cultures, and sure enough we found -- and we didn't expect to -- this startling commonality. so in the case of the mormons, they have this chosen people narrative. that is -- and it was borrowed, really, from the jewish experience. i mean, they have their moses, they have an exodus. it's also inheritance from america's puritans. it's this interesting combination of these two histories. so joseph smith when he found
mormonism, he really thinks that he has discovered a new religion, and his followers believe they have been sent to earth to redeem the christian church and mankind. and moreover, today they actually believe that their way of life is morally superior. and the words that are used in, you know, one of the leading discussions of mormon culture is that they see themselves as an island of morality in a sea of decay. so they have this very strong sense of chosenness, of exceptionality. we call it a superiority complex. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: insecurity, it's fascinating, they deeply feel a sense of rejection, a sense of not being looked on as fully american. they know they've been looked on as a fringe group, a cult group from, you know, a hundred years ago. they were vilified because of their practice of polygamy, and even when they renounced polygamy about a hundred years ago, for decades they have felt on the outside, and, you know, the fact that they had to hear mitt romney's sons being described as creepy because they were so clean cut is an example.
and they'll talk about that. they'll tell you that. so they feel and this will be your words, you can see this described in sociological can accounts and in their own -- >> guest: and from history of persecution which also comes up. >> guest: that's right. they were actually hunted down and chased across the country. so they tell themselves the this whole story of their insecurity which is both a matter of peril and of being looked down upon. and so they will say words like we feel a chip on the shoulder. we have to prove ourselves. we have to show the rest of the country that we can be just as good and we can succeed as americans, and they seem to be motivated by that combination of this exceptionality but live anything a society where they have -- living in a society where they have this outside, persecuted relationship. and finally, impulse control. it's a fascinating thing, they practice practices of habits of impulse control that are just very different from mainstream americans. these are well known. they don't smoke, they don't
drink, they don't drink caffeine or soda, and they start doing this with their kids. and this turned out to be extremely relevant to our findings. they don't just suddenly start this when you're adults. they start these habits of impulse control with their kids from preschool. they give them little piggybanks where they have to tithe, they have to put 10% away. they start them on practices of, you know, having to to go to church and sit still from a very early age. by the time they're teenagers, mormon kids don't smoke as much, don't drink as much, have less premarital sex. all that stuff's not stereotype, it seems to be a matter of fact. so all three elements are very strongly in their case. >> host: and what's the men fish shent result in terms of income or success? what's the outcome that you see? >> guest: well, as with all of the groups that we looked at, the mormons are experiencing exceptional rates of upward mobility. now, we can demonstrate that for
some of the other groups through certain kindsover statistical data. in the mormon case, what just so striking about it is, you know, i worked on wall street 30 years ago, and i remember very well -- and this is confirmed by many other accounts too -- it was difficult to find a mormon ott on wall street years ago. they just weren't there. and yet in the last 30 years now today they are powerhouses in some of america's, you know, best recognized corporations, american express, citigroup, dell, fisher price, sears, huntsman and many, many others, jetblue. i mean, the list actually goes on. so we have the three traits we're talking about, we have extraordinary, an extraordinary sudden record of success and then, of course, we have a causal hypothesis that these traits are causing the, are causing through a motivation and drive which, by way, our account can deliver and no other alternative account of group success we're aware of can.
>> host: so let's talk a little bit about -- you talked about excluding other explanations, so is some people who have criticized your book say setting aside mormons and jews for a second although i'm sure you're going to rope them back in, what you've identified the characteristic stride of immigrants and the reason third generation chinese-americans are no longer engaged in that struggle. immigrants are self-selected to be ambitious and hard working and anyone that makes a journey that hard is, of course, going to have that in them and convey a lot of that to their children. so talk about why the triple package is not just immigration. >> guest: well, actually, that part of it we're very sympathetic to, and i don't see why that's a critique. i think that most accounts of success whether you talk about individual success or group accounts, what they miss is drive, you know? [laughter] so you're born wealthy. of course people were born wealthy have a leg up.
we totally agree with that. and, you know, but the explanations are, oh, you just came -- you are the children of educated immigrants. that's a big part of our book. of course that gives you an advantage. but what's missing from these accounts is motivation. you know, the wasp elite was the most educated group. they had the most networks and we're not the first people to say that in the '40s, '50s and '60s not only did they lack the drive, it was goach to be striving more hunger. there are two types of high post cease when it comes to immigrants. i think the jews and the mormons are the most important cases. there's this idea that the only immigrants who are succeeding right now are the ones that come over with education, with the skills. and that, unfortunately, is just not true. it's the politically correct explanation which is, you know, then we don't have to look into
cultures, because it all comes from who your parents are. it's definitely a big deal with certain of the groups like indian-americans or, you know, cuban-americans. but it's not, for example, true with chinese-americans. and this is, these findings are replicated not just in the united states, l.a., but also toronto and the u.k. over and over the studies show that the children of totally uneducateed chinese, korean, vietnamese immigrants -- and these are people whose parents sometimes are illiterate, you know? they're factory workers, they're restaurant workers, taxi cab drivers. there are rising at academically faster than privileged white counterparts. and they are also kind of hitting it out of the park with these test scores. and that's the part that has been hard to get traction on because of course we acknowledge that if you're the child of a software engineer that you have a leg up, right? but there's this other piece of
it that is so fascinating. and, you know, even when you're talking about cuban-americans people want to say, oh, it's easy. they came over with education. actually, it was only a third of that first wave that came over as elites. so two-thirds didn't. but let's just say the whole pile came over. what's missing from those accounts is the mechanism. how does that first generation of immigrants, let's say i was a doctor back home. well, i come to this country, and i live in a crowded place, and i have no job because my tree doesn't count here -- degree doesn't count here. so i have to work as a janitor or a fruit picker. how does that drive or education, whatever you want to call it, that human capital get transmit today to the next generation? and that's where we see our book fitting in. we agree it helps to be an immigrant and that most immigrants who come here, i actually think, have -- i mean, this is of any background, el salvador, you know, sudan -- i actually think refugees disproportionately have the triple package on an individual
level. but the question is how do you convey those traits to the next generation, and i think that's where the drive comes in. >> host: so there's no reason to think there wouldn't be people in poverty in india who were lazy and not working very hard and absent all triple package. so it's -- you wouldn't, this doesn't, your book doesn't try to say that india should be the most wealthiest -- >> guest: oh, no. >> host: -- on earth because indian-americans are doing well. >> guest: no, that's backwards. >> guest: no, no. this is not a book that makes comparisons between countries. we don't say that indian culture, whatever that might be, ought to have made india a more prosperous country. the best theories that i know out there are why nations fail, and the claim there is that institutions are fundamental, a functioning free market with legal protections and incluesivity as well as political incluesivity. that's what makes nations more
or less prosperous. it's american institutions this combination with these cultural traits that allow these people to succeed in this country. >> guest: but it's also -- i like that question because it's not just that it's the institutions that are missing in, you know, india or, you know, cuba, obviously. it's a great question because it clarifies how we're using culture, right? were not talking about this essentialist hinduism or 5,000-year confucianism. it's really the interaction of people. it's more the immigrant experience. they come over, yeah, i mean, small middle kingdom identity. the chinese have a very strong sense of exceptionalism. but once you come to this country, that's all mixed up, right? you're an outsider, you have a funny accent, and it's really this kind of dynamic interplay. >> guest: may i come back to the selectivity point for one secondsome. >> host: sure. >> guest: okay. here's what it can't explain, it can't explain mormon or jewish success because jews now are
third, fourth, fifth generation. in addition to that, and there's two ideas. one is they're coming over with higher levels of education skill, one is they're coming over more bold and motivated. and you've got to look at these separate. let's look at the education skills. it turns out that over half of chinese immigrants do not come over on these visas. we have thisser is yo type in our -- stereotype in our head, but most of them are not. this has been very well studied. the chinese ones who don't come over, they are mostly poor, and many of them very poorly educated. and yet their kids -- and this has been documented because this is a large community, people have gone and done the research -- their kids, the kids of those immigrants are doing just as well as the kids of the other parents which is odd. that shows you it's not the parental background, but more important for our purpose, they're doing better than their better educated and better off white peers. that's what we're looking at. why are these groups doing better than the national
average, the white average, why are they doing better than better educated white kids? and from families that are higher on the socioeconomic level, we're not saying, oh, look, they're doing better than this other group that's persistently low income group in america. that's not the problem we're trying to solve through the triple package. we're asking how come they're doing better and better educated kids who start from a better place. and our answer is it's got to be something in the culture and upbringing. >> host: so you're focusing on the sort of upside, the positive success stories. who are the, there are plenty of immigrant groups which are not doing as well as chinese-americans are. so if you look at -- what's a group that if you look is not doing well? >> guest: well, actually, you know, we look at some of the most disadvantaged groups in our book. we treat them quite carefully. and i think we're pretty, i mean, it's like on the first page. we're saying this has nothing to do with the triple package. >> host: well, no, i want an immigrant group. give me an immigrant group that is not doing well the way
chinese-americans are doing. >> guest: oh, okay. there are many refugee groups that come over with absolutely nothing, so i'm just -- i'll say sudan or the hmong are a very, very poor group. and, you know, the -- >> host: so why are hmong, why are incomes for hmomg low and educational achievement low? >> guest: well, because it's a snapshot. so we're looking at who -- actually, i think some of these groups, honestly, that are very poor right now in one generation will rise disproportionately. i do. we just happen to work with these refugee groups in new haven, and i see these qualities. you know, when they -- first of all, there are institutional problems. some of them can't get a job. they don't have a work permit, so there are all these things that have nothing to do with how hard they work. it's just discrimination sometimes. and i, if you were asking me why are some of them not at the highest levels of income, well, some of these people have had
their entire families killed, they come over one person, and they are working and working. i believe that if we can track it, they will have disproportionate success, you know? many of these groups. but it's a snapshot this time. so if you look at the poorest income groups, they are, you know, often war refugees, and they're often people that have just come through civil conflict and all kinds of, you know, historical reasons. >> host: i mean, i think the -- one question i had about the book so i'm thinking back to the charles murray bell curve controversy which i'm sure you guys remember vividly and how tense that was for everyone concerned. and everyone got upset at murray and more more hernsteven, i thie they were trying to pa thol eyes behavior of groups. and i think it's great that you guys are picking out things that are successful. i worry that without looking at the other side you're kind of cherry picking the good stuff. so i want to know what's the
negative? be you had to write the opposite book, where would the opposite book land? >> guest: i think that's a totally fair question. number within, as we all know, the murray hypothesis was an iq hypothesis. now, we refute that in the book. let's just be very clear. i already mentioned about third generation asian-americans which really undercuts the iq hypothesis. people have studied chinese-americans, so they've done iq studies, and the finding is that the iq is not different, okay? so we look at that. book excludes this, in my view, pernicious iq explanations which is unfounded, okay? now, we look at a in our book at the amish. that's a group that's poor, and is we try to show how they don't have the triple package. it'd be interesting to talk about that, if you want. we look at appalachians, rural whites and we try to show how they don't have the triple package. i think you could look at, if you're interested, studies that
compare mexican-american immigrant communities in los angeles with some of the east asian immigrant communities in los angeles. and we look a little bit at that. our book is not about why mexican-americans aren't successful. many of them, they assimilate into a culture and a group which has been for 200 and her years in this country subject to discrimination, second class citizenship, denials of opportunity, structural exclusions. there are many reasons why some immigrant groups who do not face and don't get assimilated into a group with that history and those continuing structural problems might be -- so there are many reasons why asian-americans might be doing better than them. that's not what we wrote about. that would not be so shocking. what's much more interesting is that these groups are doing better than the national average, the white average. that's what we're trying to explain. now, if you do look at these studies, they will tell you,
very careful study, that latino-american kids in l.a. from the immigrant communities are not raised with the same high academic expectations. and we cite these studies in our book, and you can read them. it's very interesting. what are high expectations? they actually capture two elements of the triple package. a high expectation means on the one hand parents are telling the kids we know you can outperform the rest of your classmates. we know you're capable of it. that's the superiority complex. the expectation, the demand is the insecurity. well, if you don't to do that, you're going to disappoint us. you going to fail our expectations. you're going to disappoint yourself, you're going to embarrass our family. and this kind of careful cultural analysis has been done, and the people who have studied this mostfully conclude that those -- carefully conclude that those high expectations, the difference in the expectations are actually doing some of the work causeally in producing success. and it's not a new finding. sociologists going into groups that seem to be more successfull and discovering time after time
that high expectations are driving it. i've got to adjust one more point. what we were doing in this book is capturing the immigrant experience and that interesting phenomenon of second generation success and then third generation decline, that would be exactly what we were trying to do because no alternative explanation can capture that. not the iq ones, not the selectivity, they can't explain second generation success and third generation decline. not views about structural bias and structural problems in society all which exist, but they can't explain that phenomenon which sociologists have found in virtually every immigrant group. and this goes back a hundred years. the italians, the poles. exceptional upward mobility and the second generation decline after that. our explanation is the only one i know of that captures that phenomenon perfectly. >> guest: i want to go book to your question about what's -- back to your question about what's the negative.
if we were talking about a cultural trait that was, like, exclusive to somebody with this history, that would be -- i would disagree with that too. but we're talking especially when you're talking about impulse control about behaviors that anybody can access, you know? so, you know, our biggest supporters actually, believe it or not, have been public school educators. i mean, we just had so many e-mails. to give you one example, you know, a stool teacher from southern california said i'm latina, i'm a public high school teacher, and i just can't believe thisment i think about culture and class and success all the time, and i just see with my own eyes that these asian-american immigrant kids have these study habits that lead to these better grades, so i told my own son we're just going to replicate that, and he's a straight a student. so to me, it's almost more demeaning to not talk about this because it's, if you say, look, it's -- the reason, the only reason that some groups are doing better than others is external things. it's all discrimination, it's
because they came over with better capital, human capital. literally, we need to eliminate discrimination, we need to change our institutions which, by the way, i think should be the first priority. but that is it. [laughter] that leaves people with no agency. and we get e-mails saying, boy, is there not a level playing field. it's incredibly unfair. you know, we want to change the world too. but we also want to know what we can do in our own families. and this is actually extremely useful for us to -- we're not talking about in this case our study habits or different mentalities. and one, the most interesting study i think in the whole book is what i call the reverse mash mall low test. so everybody knows about the marshmallow test done at stanford where you offer these kids do you want one marshmallow now or two be you wait 15 minutes? the people that defer are more successful in terms of happiness, family, stability, education. last year they ran this chest
again at the university of rochester, but first they did a new twist. they lied to half the kids. they told half the kids first if you do this, we'll give you these cool art supplies. and then they broke their promise. and then they ran the marshmallow test. every one of the kids who had been lied to grabbed the first marshmallow. and to me, this dose right to your question, right? if, as i believe in is the case of many of these poorer groups we're talking about, if the society has let you down, if you -- you do not believe you can trust your institutions, you don't think if you work really hard and defer gratification you're actually going to be rewarded, then there is no incentive to do this. so i think you should put that together with the triple package. and i was talking to some former students who are in education, and they're saying teachers at the high school and grade school level should know and be trained that some people, it's not just, oh, these immigrants work so hard, they believe in the promise of the institutions.
so why can't we kind of build these ideas in, you know, take it and acknowledging that certain behaviors do lead to better academic success? you don't all have to have academic success, but for a lot of these people it's almost a luxury to be debating what successfully means. but, you know, build in some of these different frameworks and different mentalities and different levels of confidence in the institution, and maybe we could do better with education policy. >> host: i mean, this is interesting. i hadn't thought about that. all the groups you identify and including mormons and jews actually do believe in an american dream in a way that not all americans do, which is a -- which is interesting. mormons, mormons really want to be part of that -- >> guest: and it's fascinating. >> host: and jews too. >> guest: they're so persecuted. it's particularly interesting because these are very, very highly possessor persecuted groups. >> guest: and they may even exaggerate their belief in the system. that is, they may have exaggerated beliefs in how fair or how aher accuratic the system
is. and yet there seems to be no doubt in part that belief in the institution which is a necessary part of believing that you can make it seems to be an important criteria in the success of these groups. >> host: right. i mean, it's interesting that mormons want to be part of the boy scouts, they want to be, you know, mitt romney wants to run for president at a time when presidency seems to be a poison chalice. [laughter] so it's wanting to be part of something that others americans feel -- >> guest: mormons have been running for president since joseph smith did it at the very beginning. i've got to say one more thing about the same topic which is i think we might want to ask ourself toes what kind of conversation we should be having and should be able to have on these issues. i mean, if you say that you think that asian-american kids' study habits are causeally responsible, in part, a significant part for their doing better on the s. a.t., it seems like people want to say that's cultural racism. it seems like people want to say that's just doing murray and
hernstein again. and if that's a response to that very simple statement which, in fact, i think must be true, i think we have a problem on our hands. that means we're not able to have a frank conversation, and is we're not able to give the information we need to our antipoverty programs, to our education policy and, not to mention, to many, many families out there who might want to know, you know, how to help their kids. >> host: i guess where i would come back is if that's the case, are you the person that's going to go into poor african-american communities and poor white communities and tell people you're not studying hard enough, you don't have impulse control, and you have a sense of -- you don't have a sense of superiority? >> guest: no, do definitely not. i mean, i think this supports not us personally, but the whole thesis supports early childhood intervention, these programs that were great ones in boston and new haven -- >> guest: these programs exist. >> guest: yeah, they exist. and it is, essentially, you know, you're being a little facetious, but it is about how
to inculcate not just children, but, you know, parents. and it could be single parents, right? a grandparent. with the sense of actually motivation and long-term perseverance are things that -- there are not very many things that you can teach later on, but early childhood intervention programs. and, look, we're not trying to make it seem really easy. it's just that in against the history of so little success in education and antipoverty, i mean, you know, it's almost like why tie your hands behind your back? but you talk about success and talking about mitt romney, i think this is so interesting. you know, one of the downsides of having, being from a triple package culture -- and i grew up in this, so i know -- is by virtue of the kind of insecurity you have which is like i'm not accepted well enough or sometimes it's within the family, i need to prove to my -- i need to meet my parents' expectations or in the more upon s' case -- mormons' case can, i need to show america
we're even better, that can force people into very narrow forms of success that are the types that we're being criticized of championing when it's the opposite. because we're saying that that culture can, you know, in order to prove to everybody that we're so great, ec only be a doctor or a lawyer or run for president, we have to be on wall street, and the younger generations of these groups actually almost all uniformly feel an unpleasant pressure. and you see this so much in the asian-american community where some people won't even read book because they say you're reinforcing the model minority stereotype. i would suggest reading five pages of it because the whole idea is that first generation is too to narrow. and i i think the real success is if you can take some of that energy and focus and apply it to something, you know, be a stand-up comic, be a jazz musician or something, but, you know, kind of apply it to what you care about. ang lee's story is great, he
gets the academy award for beth director, what we all want. and his father apparently says, you know, now you're still young, now you can maybe be an academic. [laughter] >> host: right. i want to change gears a little bit and go to you guys. you're a married couple, i'm not sure that the audience know that. which of you has more triple package, which of you has the better triple package this? >> guest: oh, there's no doubt about that. that'd be my wife. >> guest: no, it's different. it's generational. i'm guessing jed is more like you. i don't know anything about you, but i was raised in a kind of parodyingmatic thing. my parents gave me a strong sense of exceptionality. i think as a shield against majority discrimination. i mean, when i was little, i was in indiana. guy kept making slanty eyes at me, making fun of my accent, and i remember telling my mother once about, and she said why do you care about that guy? we come from such a much longer
civilization, and he's making fun of you, you know, who cares? and a lot of impulse control, discipline that, you know, of course, i'm notorious for. jed often says you got none of that from your family, none of that from your parents. you're just -- >> guest: well, i think what i brought to the table was the insecurity part in the triple package. i brought plenty of that. [laughter] just one last point on inner city education policy. hearst the thing -- here's the thing, i think a lot of us fall into a false dichotomy. it is as follows: the right wing wants to say the institutions are great, the playing field is level, the meritocracy works perfectly. it's all about individual choices. every individual's perfectly responsible for his own outcomes. then you get an extreme p, polar opposite on the left. it's all about institutions, it's all about structural problems, it's all about discrimination. nothing anyone does can make a difference given those problems. we just have to be grown up enough to realize it's both.
it's not one or the other, it's both. so, yes, of course, we need structural reform of the inner city, we have mass incarceration to deal with, and we need all kinds of education reform. but on the other hand, can't we also say there's an individual side of it and education policies can address those, these programs which we were saying before exist? these are programs that, where people go in at the ages of 3 and 4, and they work with the families too. and what they do is they're teaching perseverance, motivation, character and an interest in education and school. so they're teaching all the things had go into it if these were triple package groups, so to us, that makes perfect sense. >> guest: back to you as an individual -- >> host: thank you. [laughter] >> guest: he hates talking about himself. i think we can generalize more, because he just hates talking about himself whereas i wrote a memoir. but the jewish case is fascinating, but it is no longer an immigrant group. and if you ask people with other
theories, people never want to talk about the jews because they quickly, it gets to the biological one, and nobody wants to go there even if some people secretly think it. i think our second element, insecurity coupled with exceptionalism, goes a long way. and that, you were joking about the insecurity, but, okay, this is a group that a kind of had the holocaust intrascreen in 1945. you may be fourth generation jewish-american, but you have this, you have this part of history -- >> guest: well, if you're going to make me talk about myself, yes -- [laughter] i saw this with my own father. so i think that our account does better explaining jewish success in america than any other account i know. there are people who believe it's iq based. i myself think that those studies are not yet believable, and so so i don't take that view. but what if what we're saying is true, what'd you be looking for is, is this a group that replenishes its insecurity over the generation? that would be the surprise that might make it into the exception
of generational decline. my own father, his dad was the immigrant. poor butcher, he comes over in -- it's a long time ago. my father's growing up, he should be getting more comfortable. he should be getting, you know, more relaxed according to the normal story of generational decline. and all of a sudden when he's about, you know, 12 or 13, the holocaust happens, okay? and this happens for a whole generation of jews who should be getting comfortable and passing a decline story on to their kids. instead they have the l holocaust. and if anything could revive a sense of insecurity in a group, obviously, it would with that. and now, of course, you have israel, too, which for another, later generation of jews, the sense of worldwide anti-semitism, and you know a lot of jews do identify with israel, they still worry about what happens there. and this sense of israel being in peril, i think, keeps -- i think there's a, i mean, jews say this to each other, i think that there is this element of
nervousness and anxiety in the jewish psyche which i'm not saying i have it myself, but i think it's widespread. >> guest: but, yeah -- >> host: well, do you guys think, i don't want to belabor this jewish question because i love it. [laughter] is, are we headed, are jews going to be the huguenots in a generation? i mean, i'm a jew. i don't have any deep sense of insecurity that anyone's coming for me or that i'm, i'm not worrying a lot about israel. so is it likely that whatever cultural, whatever capital i've got, triple package capital is going to dissipate in my children? >> guest: well, we do raise that possibility in our book. there have been studies recently suggesting for the first time jewish academic decline. now, we don't know if that's going to translate into lower incomes or other kinds of nonsuccess in some sort of typical decline story. but for the first time in hot of metrics where -- in lots of
metrics where jewish young people used outperform in terms of competition, they're not doing it anymore, at least to the same degree. our theory is, yesterday, whereas in the '70s there was the yom kippur war, now for the first time fourth and fifth jewish generations are more secure in the united states than jews have been anywhere for the last 2,000 years. so if our theory is right, we would predict and expect some jewish decline, and there is some evidence suggesting that. >> guest: but we probably have different views on this, you know, i -- this goes back to your definition of success. because the, because of language barriers if you look at the accounts in our book of jews in the 1910s and 1920s, they sound just like chinese immigrant parents. you have to be a doctor, you have to be in physics. you have to play the piano or violin, actually. and that's because those were the respectable things, right? you're afraid that your kid's not going to survive. you can't be a poet. we have a whole thing on sal
bello whose dad so disparate of him. they're not winning the physics olympiad as much, but i think this part we haven't documented thoroughly. there are other forms of success that, you know, jews now don't have a language barrier. they're directing movies. they're writing things. they're transforming the world through environmental transformation. i mean, it may not just be in physics olympiad anymore. you can't speak the language, you can do numbers. >> host: so i want to go back to you guys now. so, amy, you wrote, obviously, a very successful, famous and controversial book about your parenting of your daughters. did -- battle hymn of the tiger mother. did triple package come out of that book at all? >> guest: actually, believe it or not, we started this book, we started thinking about this book before that. in 2008 i taught a seminar on
the focus was, actually, on individual groups and nationings. and at the end of the day, this book is about individuals, but we started doing the research, started hiring research assistant, and then we were, essentially, interrupted by a global firestorm. so then we kind of, you know, after things settled down, we started working on it again. but we started thinking about it before. and i've written books about so-called market-dominant minorities in countries like indonesia and africa, so i've been interested in entrepreneurial and disproportionately successful minorities since the 2000s. >> host: and so how did you divide the work? who did the work? >> guest: i am the disciplined, you know, ant. i managed all the research. i love culture. i love digging into all these, you know, sources and then reading more sources and amassing the research. i mean, jed is definitely the analytical thinker, big picture person. i'm the morning person, he's a night person. we never had to see each other.
i wouldn't say we have exactly opposite personalities and opposite skills. >> guest: well, i'm also the worst person in the world at taking criticism, so i would do some writing, she would edit, and the next thing you'd know books would be being thrown at each other in the household. [laughter] i think, actually, it was quite an even distribution of labor. we both did the writing, we both did the editing. you managed the research assistants, absolutely true. >> guest: i'm very interested in facts, and i think jed is into the analytical framework more. >> host: your framework, your facts? >> guest: not like that. we interacted, always interact. but as to what i enjoy doing, i'm the one that says i need to get every book that's ever been written on the amish, you know, and put together these studies. i think it was pretty interactive, jokes aside. but he was about how do we go about this systematically, you know, just what's the organization, what's kind of the point going to be?
>> guest: well, i also had been writing for almost 20 years about america and about this interesting development in american history and culture which you see also in the countries of western europe of a society that's gotten more and more interested in living in the present. and you see this in, well, you see it from modern psychology to modern art and its relevance to this book is -- >> host: the present as opposed to the future or the past? >> guest: well -- >> host: or both? >> guest: it could be either. that's one of the things culture does. one of the most important things culture does is orr to cent people in time. -- orient people in time. some cultures ask their members to venerate the past, others tend to direct them to the future. some tell their members more and more you've got to live in the now. it's an interesting development in the last couple hundred years of western culture that that live in the present has become more appealing to people. one of the things the triple package seems to do is to turn people into deferred gratification machines.
>> host: right, right. >> guest: and that's what runs up against american culture. so it was a combination of those two interests, hers in successful ethnic minorities and mine in american culture and its live in the moment doing. >> but you're not a critique, it's not just that he's criticizing living in the moment. we all want to seize the moment. one of my favorite parts in the book that never.coms up is the constitutional law part, you know? at the end, jed -- who teaches constitutional law -- notes our two founding documents actually have completely different impulses -- >> guest: on just this point. >> guest: yeah. the declaration of independence it's about pursuit of happiness, it's a rebellious document, and your view on the constitution is -- >> guest: well, yes. it was an interesting time in american history, so the declaration of independence, pursuit of happiness, break from europe, that's a live in the moment document. and jefferson didn't believe in constitutions because constitution attempt to restrain people. that is, it's an attempt by a people to tie its hands behind
its backs and say, well, in 20 year, 50 years you can't do the following things, you can't violate these rights, you can't extend your powers more than this. very -- that's what the whole constitutional structure is. jefferson didn't believe in it was he thought at any moment the people should be able to do whatever it wants to do. the constitution is more like the triple package with the declarationing with being more of a live in the moment, having more of a live in the moment mentality. but both of these elements have been part of america from the beginning. the rebellious, live in the moment part of america with this triple package, hard work, make more money. the insecurity of the individual about where he's going -- whether he's going to be an economic failure or not. this is something new that america creates through free market, capitalist institutions. suddenly every man, every individual is to be measured a success or failure based on his economic success. that wasn't true before. so you've got this new kind of insecurity, but also with this kind of american rebelliousness and individualism, this is the analysis we believe give in the last chapter of the book.
>> host: i want to get to that. i'm now fixated on the question of whether were looking forward at the moment or backward. one thing that's striking to me if you look at the tea party movement, there's a kind of atavistic strain on the right which is living 50 years ago or 100 years ago. what what happens when you get hung up on that? seems to me that's a kind of victimology theory, and you get wrapped up in the past, and you can't go forward. >> guest: according to what we're saying, there should be two kinds of pathologies. one getting hung up in the past, living in the past and, two, living too much in the present moment. what is more productive for prosperity and achieving your long-term goals is to have the wherewithal and the outlook to look forward with your life, to decide what you think you want to live for, what your goals are, write your own script and then have the wherewithal to forgo present satisfaction in the name, in the service of
achieving that long-term goal. and that would be botched up either by getting hung up in the past which is freud's definition of mental illness -- [laughter] or being too much interested in immediate gratification or living in the present. >> host: the, talk a little bit about the amish. they're a great example in the book of a culture which is a very strong culture which has a lot of strengths but does not have the traditional success. >> guest: we loved this case because it also kind of highlights how we're using our terms. so the amish have the most imus control -- [laughter] of, you know, almost any group in america. they're all about impulse control. no electricity, you know? just so many strictures from early on. the children can't read fairy tales. is we know they have impulse control. that's one element. they, whether or not they have a superiority complex, if you asked them, they would say absolutely not. we believe in humility, that's why we don't even want our
children to go to high school because that could breed a sort of high spirited, high mindedness. but we catch on somewhat playfully whether or not it could be a superiority based on we have the most humility. but put that aside, the most interesting thing is insecurity. because this highlights how we're using the term. we're talking about insecurity in the sense of within a system. i haven't proven myself to people in this system, you know, to others here. where it's in my family or -- whether it's in my family or society. and precisely what the amish live by is their creed is we don't is step modern world's values. we don't want our people to feel they need to strive and to do what society demands or to succeed in those ways because we reject those values. so they don't have -- not only do they not have insecurity as we define it, their whole rehiggs is based on that. and the result -- religion. and, i mean, hats off to them. there's a fascinating section where some of their kids are playing little league baseball, and that's fine until some of
them start seeming like they want to win. you can't be competitive. but, no, for obvious reasons they are among the poorest groups in the united states because they don't want to be successful in that way. >> guest: well, it's interesting, there's certain cultures where striving is considered wrong. so there's a religious basis for it in amish culture. of it's considered sinful. if you look at elite white protestant society, a surgeon time -- certain time and place striving was not considered sinful, but gauche or it's something that you wouldn't want to show at least that you were interested in climbing. >> guest: although they had the original work ethic. >> guest: yeah, no many. sure, i'm talking about a mid 20th century. now, in these cultures what we're saying is that they lack the element of insecurity as we define it. so the amish are teaching their kids to find security in their faith and their, and their traditional practices, and so
they don't, they don't -- here's what insecurity is, feeling you're not good enough. you have to do more. and they teach their kids, no, you should feel good enough with the simple things we have. similarly but in a completely, you know, different way, privileged whites in america -- but this is also true in england, aristocratic whites, they teach you don't strive, feel l you have to prove yourself in some way, that would be embarrassing. and you see in both cases, in fact, we were just reading something about eaton -- >> guest: graduates of eaton college have superiority in spades and even impulse control but no insecurity. and according to this article, no riding from where they -- rising from where they started, you know? if you start out wealthy, then you can stay that way. >> host: david cameron is an eaton grad, isn't he? >> guest: well, he's described as -- [laughter]
>> host: so let's close by talking a little bit about the united states. you've touched on it a little bit as it relates to our historical documents, but you both seem worried that we were more a triple pagination and for a variety of reasons, which we've talked about, we've become less so. is it possible as a nation to become more triple packagey? it sounds like it's possible for groups and individuals, but how as a nation? don't you have to find yourself in opposition to something? >> guest: now we're just talking by analogy. this is the last chapter, it's kind of a fun thought experiment. we booknd it, right? we do say that this some ways, actually, other ways i was born with these three elements. everybody knows about american exceptionalism. city on a hill, we're going to -- we have the best system. we always few most of our history had the insecurity of being underdog, you know, looked down on by europe and always need to show ourselves, the soviet union and puritan origins
of impulse control. we don't need to repeat that. but as jed says, it's always been this sewer play of rebelliousness and questioning authority which kind of makes america what it is, and you have these roles of elements that come in, but in a good way some of that gets exploded out, and you have new energy so not just everybody's working all the time. what we say in the end of the book is that after the soviet union fell we, for the first time in our entire history, we had no more rival, and maybe we were left with just major superiority complex. at the expense of the other two. and as we say, it's better when superiority complex -- which has massive problems anyway -- is tempered by a little bit of sense of needing to prove yourself. and, you know, so i don't know if -- >> guest: well, i mean, the first question would be would you want a question to have the triple package? and that's a serious question, and, you know, and requires -- you have to have an intelligent answer to that first before you
might want your country to have it. and so superiority complexes are dangerous. they make countries do terrible things, they make peoples do terrible things. we argue in the last chapter that america has available to it a sense of exceptionality based on equality, democracy, inclusiveness. if that can be the basis of an american superiority complex, then we're for it. in terms of insecurity and impulse control, yeah, i think i, i think i'd be willing to say that americans could use a dose more of impulse control. i mean, and there's so many domains where you can identify the problem whether it's the national debt, this inshare about, this -- inshare is about even though we're throwing this huge debt on the next generation or obesity, whatever it is. and insecurity, yes, i think, you know, there is a good argument to be made that peoples do better in times of adversity. and so, you know, maybe there's a kind of perverse, you know, silver lining to the, some of
the financial and political, military problem ares we've had over the last ten years. >> guest: well, but -- >> host: we're going to exercise some impulse control and finish. have a last sentence. >> guest: i was just going to say that china right now is a very good example of a country described by china scholars as, you know, strong sense of superiority with massive dose of -- we have been humiliated by the west, so that's a nice boil for us, and we'll see what happens. >> host: amy chua, jed rubenfeld, thank you for joining us to talk about "the triple package. >> guest: thank you so much. >> that was "after words," booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, legislators and others familiar with their material. after words with air as every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on