Search Results

Title: The Bell Curve: A Perspective From Sociology
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Hauser, Robert M.
Carter, Wendy Y.
The Bell Curve: A Perspective From Sociology
Focus 17,2 (Fall/Winter 1995).
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79, NLSY79
Publisher: Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), University of Wisconsin - Madison
Keyword(s): Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT); I.Q.; Socioeconomic Status (SES)

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

This article summarizes the critique of Murray and Herrnstein's "The Bell Curve" argued by Robert M. Hauser and Wendy Y. Carter in their "The Bell Curve as a Study of Social Stratification," a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in August 1995. Hauser and Carter's analysis utilizes data from the NLSY79.

The following is an explanatory excerpt from this article:
"Much empirical analysis in The Bell Curve is based upon two data sets, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (a large sample of American youth, aged 14-22 in 1979, who have been followed annually since then) and the Children of the NLSY, which matches women in the NLSY with their children. Both data sets contain good measures of cognitive ability, but, say Hauser and Carter, are used poorly by Herrnstein and Murray. Most of the original analysis in the book consists of graphical displays of reduced-form logistic or linear regression equations in which some measure of educational or socioeconomic attainment, contact with the criminal justice system, or child-rearing success has been regressed on two variables, AFQT score in the IQ metric, adjusted for age at administration, and a composite measure of the socioeconomic status (SES) of the family of orientation. This measure is limited in content to father's and mother's educational attainments, father's occupational status, and family income in 1979, the first year of the NLSY. This is a minimally adequate specification, but it tends to understate the effects of social background by omitting such variables as number of siblings, intact family, rural or metropolitan origin, and regional origin. Thus, in Herrnstein and Murray's analysis, the social background variable becomes a straw man, largely used to highlight the effects of ability. From the study of stratification, it is known that the explanatory power of measured social background is modest, but it is also known that the effects are important and worth understanding. No measures of the explanatory power of the equations are reported in The Bell Curve, so that the inexpert reader never learns that most of the variation remains unexplained.

Bibliography Citation
Hauser, Robert M. and Wendy Y. Carter. "The Bell Curve: A Perspective From Sociology." Focus 17,2 (Fall/Winter 1995).