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The French Riots & Human Biodiversity
The demographic groups involved likely have an average intellectual quotient (IQ) under 85, an aspect that's seldom discussed openly in France. What is the cost of silence?
Written by James Thompson.
People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.
— Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
France has a longstanding tradition of street protests, making riots an expected part of its political landscape. In theory, its wide and straight boulevards are built to provide easy access for cannon fire if the proletariat becomes too rebellious. The populace can revolt and the authorities can slaughter them. Well, in theory at least.
France has witnessed a series of riots in immigrant neighborhoods in years like 1979, 1990, 1993, with the most severe occurring in 2005. Episodes of unrest have occurred intermittently since then, with car burning, especially on New Year's Eve, being a common occurrence.
The proximate cause of the current and manifest violence was the police shooting of a car driver. Two versions quickly circulated:
Story 1: Three teenagers were unjustly stopped in their car, the driver was beaten with rifle butts, causing him to remove his foot from the pedal, which propelled the car forward, after which he was shot by a police officer.
Story 2: The 17-year-old driver was known for reckless high-speed driving and had past traffic offenses for underage driving and ignoring police stops. In addition, it was noted that erratic driving resulting in policemen getting injured was not uncommon.
The distal causes are the usual suspects: French racism, poverty, lack of opportunity, violent video games (as the President of France believes), failures of education and of parental control, and a general sense of resentment and hostility against France.
Citizens are now the primary reporters of angry news, but their iPhone testimony has the usual shortcomings: snapshots of a situation shown without context, particularly the boring bits which often proceed outbreaks of anger and violence, but which have explanatory power. Jumbled or not, things happen and are recorded and shared by others. The telescope effect is shown by all media: the focus on the fireworks ignores the places in which nothing much is happening, where the innocent horse scratches his back on a tree, and life goes on. France is not all on fire, though there is more arson than there was last week. And in some banlieues, arson is commonplace. Feel irritable and resentful? Set a car on fire.
Perhaps there is only one cause worth discussing, one cause only: the people.
Since 1872, a law in the French Republic has prevented census data collection in terms of race or religious beliefs, thereby officially considering all citizens equal. However, people often find alternative ways to estimate such data. For example, it was estimated by a prison-visiting imam that 70% of the prison population were Muslims. A 2004 estimate suggested that 85% of the French population was European, 10% North African, 3.5% Black, and 1.5% Asian. Surveys and polls, which can circumvent this law, estimate that 5.23% are Maghrebis (North Africans), 2.94% are black (mostly Sub-Saharan), and 0.71% are Turkish.
Excluding the Asian population, these various demographic groups likely have an average intellectual quotient (IQ) under 85, an aspect that's seldom discussed openly in France. In terms of religious distribution, it's estimated that the country is composed of 65% Christians, 8% Muslims, 5% Buddhists, and 5% Jews.
The majority of the rioters are of Algerian descent, North Africans who began immigrating to France in significant numbers after 1950, often due to labour demands from businesses, and particularly after Algeria gained independence.
With an average IQ of 83, Algerians found it difficult to secure high-paying jobs upon their arrival into a prosperous society like France.
In 2023, the International Monetary Fund reported France's GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity) as $44,410, compared to Algeria's $4,480, showing a ten-fold difference. The median wage in France is $16,372, in stark contrast to Algeria's $2,990. Unsurprisingly, these significant economic disparities serve as compelling motivations for migration.
The immediate impact of the current unrest includes around 6,000 cars and 500 buildings burned, leading to disruptions in daily life and considerable harm to the economy and tourism sector.
What is the cost of having a disgruntled racial and religious immigrant underclass? Precise numbers are elusive given France's prohibition against race-based categorisation, but there are a few estimations.
In general terms, immigrant neighbourhoods have received increased investments since 1977. Over the past two decades, more than €60 billion has been spent on a massive initiative to renovate housing projects and construct new homes, as well as to enhance facilities and infrastructure in the suburbs. It's generally acknowledged that these areas have high crime rates.
French welfare payments to non-working families are comparable to what one might earn in a part-time minimum wage job. In France, there is a minimum wage policy known as the "salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance", which is linked to the country's economic growth. Once all government assistance is accounted for, total income from public sources approaches this minimum legal income, leaving little incentive for people to seek paid employment.
However, comprehensive data from the Netherlands suggests that the economic influence immigrants have on a Western nation is contingent upon their country of origin and their reasons, or "migration motives", for relocating.
When we examine Morocco as a representative case of North African immigrants to France, the total costs of first and second generations amount to 550,000 euros, and for African immigrants, the range is from 150,000 to 625,000 euros. On the contrary, if France were to increase its European immigrant population, it could result in a net gain of 200,000 euros. From this perspective, North African and African immigrants present significant costs to French society.
While we cannot definitively say that the costs to France are equivalent to those incurred by the Netherlands, given the lack of French data, these estimates offer a far better understanding than having none at all. In fact, in this context, they provide critical insights.
The notion that Algerian and African immigrants will adapt to the local culture and acquire necessary skills is no longer applicable, as most are now second-generation immigrants or beyond, making the term "immigrant" somewhat outdated.
In general, the expectation that immigrants to Europe would rapidly reach European standards has not been fulfilled.
For instance, we have 56 years of data regarding the academic performance of Turks in Germany. The influx of Turkish immigrants to Germany coincided with the arrival of Algerians in France, providing a relevant historical comparison. In short, the second-generation Turkish immigrants show marginal improvements over the first, but their performance remains significantly below that of the native German population.
However, when an immigrant marries a German citizen, it seems the educational "gap" lessens immediately, and their children's performance aligns more closely with the German norm, as one might expect based on genetic considerations.
Looking at those who don't receive an educational certificate, the disparity is striking with 28.6% of Turks and 1.7% of Germans falling into this category, despite Germany's additional investment in providing German language lessons.
It is almost as if money doesn’t change your genetics.
I don’t do policy, but I expect that after the riots the French government will provide even greater funding for educational youth centres.
If you have a friend in France, please send them this post. They will not like it being in English, nor will they like an Englishman telling them things their constitution does not allow them to know, but there is a chance that they will heed an occasional voice from the country they founded in 1066.
James Thompson is a former senior lecturer in psychology at University College London. He taught at the University of London medical schools and has a Ph.D. in the cognitive effects of cortical lesions sustained in childhood. His interests are neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, child development, psychological trauma, intelligence and scholastic attainment. Read his Substack, Psychological Comments, here. Follow him on Twitter.
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