Sunday, January 22, 2006

Intelligence and national wealth

Ok....this is getting off-the-beaten path re: practical applications of intelligence theory and can make for good cocktail party trivia.

In 2002 Lynn and Vanhanen published the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations which established an empirical link between the mean intelligence and economic wealth (GDP) of countries. Various scholars have commented/criticizied this controversial work and many have reanalyzed the primary data.

A Intelligence "in press" article by Dickerson presents a new methodological twist on the data. Although the mathematics and statistics may turn off most readers, the conclusions are relatively easy to digest


Plots of mean IQ and per capita real Gross Domestic Product for groups of 81 and 185 nations, as collected by Lynn and Vanhanen, are best fitted by an exponential function of the form: GDP=a *10b*(IQ), where a and b are empirical constants. Exponential fitting yields markedly higher correlation coefficients than either linear or quadratic. The implication of exponential fitting is that a given increment in IQ, anywhere along the IQ scale, results in a given percentage in GDP, rather than a given dollar increase as linear fitting would predict. As a rough rule of thumb, an increase of 10 points in mean IQ results in a doubling of the per capita GDP.

To read the article........

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Chris Chatham said...

Nice ! This confirms my pet theory that most change, given the right conditions, is exponential in nature...
1) exponential technological growth, as described by Ray Kurzweil
2) reproduction, (as described by Fibonacci
3) Fluid intelligence, as described by Steven Johnson
4) Now GDP, possibly as a result of IQ!

Of course, I don't really take this theory that seriously (and it's very easy to point out exceptions to the rule) but it's definitely a little though provoking.

Anonymous said...

Intelligence is only as good as the instruments used to assess it. Check out this article from today's NY Times. The prompts looks very nonverbal IQ-ish to me. Bring this "test" to countries that purportedly score low and watch a rise in mean ability with a renewed definition of "ability" in tow.

Title: Measuring the geometry of the jungle...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there's a lot of pathological avoidance of the issues here. Obviously a smarter population is capable of being more productive in a high tech/complex production and commercial environment. What kind of denialist mental acrobat could argue that point? Even if lower IQs are due to microbial pathogens and environmental toxins, the low IQs are still very pertinent. Denying that fact is sweeping the problems under the rug and dooming the people of the backwater nations to eternal poverty.

Herrick said...

In a forthcoming paper written with psychologist W. Joel Schneider, I've shown that the strong link between Lynn and Vanhanen's national IQ measure and a national economic performance is extremely robust.

We run thousands of regressions controlling for dozens of factors, and find that IQ is essentially always statistically significant. The paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Growth, but you can get it at my homepage:

Thanks for running such a great blog--It really helps me keep up with the IQ literature, and it's always fun to read.....

-Garett Jones