Admit it, you want to know what the rest of the table says!
Beyond satisfying sheer curiosity, though, the strong correlation
between IQ and the wealth of nations is of world-historical
importance. From now on, no public intellectual can seriously claim
to be attempting to understand how the world works unless he takes
IQ into account.
How much can we trust these IQ results?
As soon as I received the book, I turned to Appendix 1, where
Lynn and Vanhanen describe all 168 national IQ studies they've found
- an average of just over two per country.
Are the results internally consistent? In other words, when there
are multiple studies for a single country, do they tend to give
roughly the same answer?
I expected a sizable amount of internal divergence. I spent 18
years in the marketing research industry, so I know how expensive it
is to come up with a nationally representative sample. Further, Lynn
and Vanhanen use results from quite different
IQ tests. They rely most on the non-verbal Raven's Progressive
Matrices, which were designed to be used across cultures, even by
illiterates. Yet, they also have a lot of results from the Wechsler
exams, which are more culture dependent - the Wechsler include a
vocabulary subtest, for example. And they report results from other
IQ tests, including a few from the oddball Goodenough-Harris
Draw-A-Man test. Also, sample sizes vary dramatically, from a few
dozen in some obscure countries to 64,000 for one American study.
Finally, some studies were of children, others of adults.
This doesn't sound promising. Nevertheless, the results show a
high degree of internal consistency. Here are the first eight
countries for which they have multiple scores:
Argentina: 93 and 98
98, and 99
Austria: 101, 103
Belgium: 99, 103, 98
88, 84, 90, and 85
Bulgaria: 94, 91
China: 100, 92.5,
Democratic Republic of Congo: 73, 72
That's not bad at all. In fact, leaving aside China, the results
are remarkably consistent. There are, of course, a few countries for
which different studies came up with quite divergent results,
especially Poland, where the two scores Lynn and Vanhanen found were
92 and 106. Still, the correlation among results when there are two
or more studies for a country is a striking 0.94.
You shouldn't take every score on faith. The reported IQ for
Israel (only 94????!!!) has elicited much criticism. Lynn has
replied that he wanted to publish the data as he found it, even if
some of it looked implausible. His hope is to encourage further
research to resolve seeming anomalies.
The IQ structures of the two giga-countries, China and India,
demand more intense study, in part because the future history of the
world will hinge in no small part on their endowments of human
capital. The demography of India is especially complex due to its
caste system, which resembles Jim Crow on steroids and acid. By
discouraging intermarriage, caste has subdivided the Indian people
into an incredible number of micro-races. In India, according to the
dean of population genetics, L.L.
Cavalli-Sforza, "The total number of endogamous communities
today is around 43,000…" We know that some of those communities -
such as the Zoroastrian Parsees of Bombay
- are exceptionally intelligent.
But we can't say with any confidence what is the long run IQ
potential of Indians overall. Their current IQ score (81) is low,
especially compared to China (100), the other country with hundreds
of millions of poor peasants. Yet, keep in mind just how narrow life
in rural India was for so long. In 1952, on the fifth anniversary of
independence, the Indian government commissioned a survey to find
out if the average Indian villager had heard yet that the British
had gone. The study was quietly cancelled when early results showed
that the average villager had never heard that the British had ever
It appears likely that some combination of malnutrition, disease,
inbreeding, lack of education, lack of mental stimulation, lack of
familiarity with abstract reasoning and so forth can keep people
from reaching their genetic potential for IQ. Lynn himself did early
studies demonstrating that malnutrition drives down IQ. The
co-authors conclude their book by recommending that
"The rich countries' economic aid
programs for the poor countries should be continued and some of
these should be directed at attempting to increase the intelligence
levels of the populations of the poorer countries by improvements in
nutrition and the like."
A clear example of how a bad environment can hurt IQ can be seen
in the IQ scores for sub-Saharan African countries. They average
only around 70. In contrast, African-Americans average about 85. It
appears unlikely that African-Americans’ white admixture can account
for most of this 15-point gap because they are only around 17%-18%
white on average, according to the latest genetic research. (Thus
African-Americans white genes probably couldn't account for more
than 3 points of the gap between African-Americans and
African-Africans.) This suggests that the harshness of life in
Africa might be cutting ten points or more off African IQ scores.
Similarly, West Africans are significantly shorter in height than
their distant cousins in America, most likely due to malnutrition
and infections. The two African-born NBA superstars, Hakeem
Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo,
are both from the wa-benzi [people
of the (Mercedes ) Benz]upper class. Only the elite in Africa gets
enough food and health care to grow up to be NBA centers.
This also implies that African-Americans might be able to achieve
higher IQs too, although the environmental gap between white
Americans and black Americans appears to be much smaller than
between black Americans and black Africans. As I pointed
out in VDARE in 2000, the most promising avenue for improving
African-Americans' IQs is by promoting breastfeeding among blacks
mothers, who nurse their babies at much lower rates than whites.
In fact, we know that IQ is not completely fixed over time
because raw test scores have been rising for decades, about 2 to 3
points per decade. To counteract this, the IQ test-making firms
periodically make it harder - in absolute terms - to achieve a score
of 100. Lynn was possibly the first scientist to make this
phenomenon widely known, although New Zealand political scientist
James Flynn has gotten more credit
for this recently. And, indeed, Lynn and Vanhanen scrupulously
adjust the test results in their book to account for when each test
While the causes of the Lynn-Flynn Effect remain rather
mysterious, it does resemble several other ongoing phenomena. For
example, human beings are getting taller, living longer, and having
fewer of their babies die during infancy.
One might expect IQ scores to converge as the richest nations
experience diminishing marginal returns on improvements in
nutrition, health, and education. By way of analogy, consider how,
after 1950, average height has not grown as fast in already well-fed
America as it has in rapidly developing East Asia.
It's unlikely the Japanese will ever be as tall on average as,
say, Lithuanians or Croatians or African-Americans. But the gap has
closed. This partial convergence in height is why you now see 6'-2"
East Asian baseball pitchers like Hideo
Nomo and Chan
Ho Park starring in the American big leagues. Last year Wang
Zhizhi, 7’-1” became the first Asian ever to join the
Perhaps that kind of convergence will happen with IQ scores
someday. But the evidence that it is happening now isn't terribly
strong. The odd thing about the Lynn-Flynn Effect is that it doesn't
seem to have had much impact on comparative rankings of IQ over
time. The smart seem to keep on getting smarter.
For instance, one of the best-documented examples of a country
with rising raw IQ scores is the Netherlands (current IQ: 102). But
even as far back as the
17th Century, the general opinion of mankind was that the Dutch
had a lot on the ball.
One potential explanation for why IQ gaps don't seem to be
narrowing (for example, the white-black IQ gap in America has been
about 15 points for 80 years or so) was offered
by Flynn recently. He argued that smart people, because they
find cognitive challenges pleasurable, seek out more mentally
stimulating environments, which in turn exercise their brains more,
making them even smarter. This suggests, for example, that the Dutch
will tend to become, say,
Internet addicts demanding constant fixes of new information and
argument, and thus continue to grow in mental firepower.
While unproven, Flynn’s suggestion seems possible. In absolute
terms, it's a virtuous
circle. But it seems unlikely to lead to the closing of the
Ultimately, though, it is hard to avoid concluding that
intellectual and income differences between nations stem to some
extent from genetic differences. The results simply cluster too much
by race. All the countries populated by Northeast Asians score
between 100 and 107. The European-populated lands score between 90
and 102. Southeast Asian nations cluster in the low 90s. The
Caucasian countries in North Africa and western Asia score mostly in
the 80s. And so forth.
The correlation between national IQ and national income is very
high. For the 81 countries, the r is .73 for GDP measured in
purchasing power parity terms (which makes poor nations with lots of
subsistence farmers look better off than they do in standard
measures of just the cash economy). In the social sciences,
correlations of 0.2 are said to be "low," 0.4 are "moderate," and
0.6 are "high." So 0.73 is most impressive.
This doesn't mean that a high IQ alone is the cause of a high
income. Causation probably runs in both directions, in another
virtuous circle. Rich countries tend to produce enough food to stave
off malnutrition, for instance, which probably leads to higher IQs,
which leads to even higher food production due to more sophisticated
Interestingly, per capita income correlates almost as strongly
with a nation's level of economic freedom as it does with its level
of intelligence. But that's in large part because economic freedom
and IQ correlate with each other - at the high level of 0.63.
Freedom and brains probably contribute to each other. Although
there are obvious exceptions, countries with smart workers (and
smart leaders) tended to find that the capitalist system generated
wealth. So there was less impetus to experiment with command
economies than in places where free enterprise wasn't getting the
But it could also be that freedom exercises the brain - West
Germans averaged 103 while East Germans scored only 95. My pet
theory is that having to make all
the choices between products available in a successful
capitalist economy stimulates mental development. (I believe this
because, as I get older and stupider, I increasingly find shopping
to be intellectually exhausting.) But evidence for this is not
Culture can play a role as well - at the extreme, contrast two
countries with almost identical per capita GDPs: Barbados and
Argentina (at least before Argentina's recent economic collapse). Don't
cry for Argentina, because it is blessed with ample IQ (96). But
it's dragged down by a notorious lack of economic and political
self-discipline. In contrast, Barbados,
despite an average IQ of 78, is one of the most pleasant countries
in the 3rd World due to its commitment to maintaining a veddy, veddy
Still, these two countries are close to being the exceptions that
prove the rule. The explanatory power of the "cultural realist"
models like Thomas Sowell’s are necessarily more limited than those
of "biocultural realist" like Richard Lynn. In general, cultures
that emphasize, say, foresight are generally found in countries
where people have enough IQ to be foresighted. Maybe people in
northern countries tend to have higher IQs because people too
unintelligent to effectively prepare for winter tended to get
removed from the gene pool.
The IQ-income correlation is not perfect either. But even where
it breaks down - most notably with China - IQ helps explain
otherwise puzzling developments like the recent headline in the
New York Times announcing "Globalization
Globalization, or the fast-paced growth of trade and cross-border
investment, has done far less to raise the incomes of the world's
poorest people than the leaders had hoped, many officials here say.
The vast majority of people living in Africa, Latin America, Central
Asia and the Middle East are no better off today than they were in
On the other hand, hundreds of billions in private investment
have poured into China, which, despite its parasitical ruling caste,
has enjoyed strong economic growth.
So what's the story behind this story? Apparently, capital flows
to where wages are low but IQs are high - pre-eminently China, where
the average IQ is two points higher than the U.S. already and likely
to go higher as economic development continues.
In contrast, these other regions (with the exception of
Argentina) average IQs of 90 or less, sometimes considerably
This is not to disparage free markets - there's no alternative.
The point is simply that humans differ greatly in productive
capacity, so not everyone benefits from economic competition to the
The implications for immigration policy are clear.
First, any conceivable level of immigration to America is
insufficient to make any difference in the welfare of the billions
of foreigners living in poverty.
Second, in a world where the average IQ is 90, America's
nepotism-driven immigration system (legal and illegal) will continue
to import primarily foreigners with two-digit IQs. These immigrants'
skills are typically insufficient to compete with our native IQ
elite, but are ample for driving down the wages of our fellow
American citizens who were not blessed in the IQ lottery.
The morality of such a system I leave to the reader to
[Steve Sailer is founder of
the Human Biodiversity Institute. His website http://www.isteve.com/ features