How Much Does Education Improve Intelligence? A Meta-Analysis.
Psychological Science 1 –12. Article link.
Stuart J. Ritchie and Elliot M. Tucker-Drob
Intelligence test scores and educational duration are positively correlated. This correlation could be interpreted in two ways: Students with greater propensity for intelligence go on to complete more education, or a longer education increases intelligence. We meta-analyzed three categories of quasiexperimental studies of educational effects on intelligence: those estimating education-intelligence associations after controlling for earlier intelligence, those using compulsory schooling policy changes as instrumental variables, and those using regression-discontinuity designs on school-entry age cutoffs. Across 142 effect sizes from 42 data sets involving over 600,000 participants, we found consistent evidence for beneficial effects of education on cognitive abilities of approximately 1 to 5 IQ points for an additional year of education. Moderator analyses indicated that the effects persisted across the life span and were present on all broad categories of cognitive ability studied. Education appears to be the most consistent, robust, and durable method yet to be identified for raising intelligence.
The results reported here indicate strong, consistent evidence for effects of education on intelligence. Although the effects—on the order of a few IQ points for a year of education—might be considered small, at the societal level they are potentially of great conse-quence. A crucial next step will be to uncover the mechanisms of these educational effects on intelligence in order to inform educational policy and practice.
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