Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article

Cognitive and educational attainment in different ethnic groups

A. M. Westa1 p1, N. J. Mackintosha1 and C. G. N. Mascie-Taylora2

a1 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge

a2 Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge


The educational attainment of over 2000 children aged 7–15 years from six different ethnic groups was assessed. Children of Pakistani and of Bangladeshi origin tended to obtain the lowest mean scores on all tests, often well below those of West Indian children, who tended to perform as well as Indian children and often no worse than the indigenous majority. There were few signs of any reliable trends over age. Differences were more pronounced on tests of reading and vocabulary than on tests of mathematics but, on tests of non-verbal reasoning, most ethnic minorities also obtained low scores. Many of these differences were associated with differences in social and family circumstances.

(Received June 26 1991)


p1 Present address: Child Care and Development Group, University of Cambridge.