Want smarter kids? Move to a city
August 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Via Andrew Sullivan I came across this fascinating look at the data on race, IQ, and GDP. Apparently, some scholars made the argument about a decade ago that richer countries were richer because of their more intelligent citizens. What Ron Unz does, though, is show that their very own data almost completely undermines their case. Rather than smarter people leading to richer countries, the near-overwhelming conclusion is that richer countries leads to “smarter” (as measured by IQ tests) citizens. Here’s one (of many) compelling examples:
Consider, for example, the results from Germany obtained prior to its 1991 reunification. Lynn and Vanhanen present four separate IQ studies from the former West Germany, all quite sizable, which indicate mean IQs in the range 99–107, with the oldest 1970 sample providing the low end of that range. Meanwhile, a 1967 sample of East German children produced a score of just 90, while two later East German studies in 1978 and 1984 came in at 97–99, much closer to the West German numbers.
These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.
And here’s an interesting follow-up post in which he speculates on how much of this is a matter of urban vs. rural.