Light & Verity

Secrets of success?

"Tiger mother" Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld have a theory about what it takes.

Mike McGregor/Getty Images

Mike McGregor/Getty Images

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Law School professor Amy Chua, who caused a media sensation three years ago with her type-A parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, jumped back into the fray in February with a new book. In The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld (also a professor at the Law School) describe eight cultural groups in the United States—Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Mormons, and Cubans—that they say are successful because of a “triple package” of collective traits. A superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control, they argue, are the things these groups have in common that allow them to succeed economically.

Reviews have been decidedly mixed, with the word “racist” batted around freely. But Chua and Rubenfeld make it clear that they are talking about cultural traits—traits, they say, that can disappear as groups assimilate. “Any time you talk about the fact that some groups are doing better than the American average in the United States, there’s going to be sensitivity,” Rubenfeld said in an NPR interview. “But, look, we think the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes.”

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