Countries with intelligent people perform better

21/01/2021 12:37 PM

Research seems to show that on average countries with an intelligence population do well across most if not all socio-economic indicators.



“Cognitive ability (equivalent to cognitive competence) comprises the ability to think (intelligence), knowledge (true and relevant knowledge) and the intelligent use of this knowledge. A broad concept of ‘‘intelligence’’ also includes knowledge aspects (‘‘crystallized intelligence’’). Cognitive ability enhances the individual’s understanding of concepts and causal relationships, it increases insight, foresight, and rationality. It leads to proximal consequences, such as higher quality of work and more reasonable decisions in everyday life.



Higher cognitive ability also improves individuals’ access to better environments and enables individuals, institutions, societies, and cultures to improve the quality of the available environment. Cognitive ability also brings about other consequences, such as greater wealth and health; a more democratic society; political and economic liberty; a more complex culture; and longitudinally, by backward effects of these environmental factors, again enhanced cognitive ability (e.g. Rindermann, 2012; Rindermann & Meisenberg, 2009; Rindermann & Thompson, 2011)” (Rindermann, 2012).



What does the evidence say of the relationship between intelligence (cognitive ability) and national outcomes? In this short presentation, we summarize the major research findings.



 



1. Educational Attainments



National IQ correlated with Literacy rate-2008, Secondary enrollment-2010, and Tertiary-2009



























Dependent variable



N (No. of countries)



Pearson Correlation



Adult literacy rate 2008



197



0.638



Secondary enrolment-2010



134



0.666



Tertiary-2009



192



0.773




Source: Lynn and Vanhanen (2012)



Moderate and strong positive correlations between national IQ and the three indicators of educational attainment lead to the conclusion that global disparities in educational attainments are principally due to differences in national IQs, although some environmental variables seem to have had some impact on these indicators independently from national IQ.



 



2. Researchers in research and Development (R&D)



 Researchers in research and development per million people in 1990-2003 (R&D), which measures the application of education and intelligence to research work is correlated at 0.666 with IQ (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2012). More intelligent nations have been much more effective in the application of education and intellectual resources to inventions and research activities than less intelligent nations. A national IQ level of 90 seems to constitute a threshold above which the relative number of researchers in R&D starts to rise.



 



3. Intelligence and Per Capita Income across Nations



The correlations between national IQ and Purchasing Power Parity- Gross National Income (PPP-GNI-08) confirm previous studies on the positive relationship between national IQ and per capita income. All correlations are moderate or strong ranging between 0.592 to 0.695, and the explained part of variation varies from 35 to 62 per cent (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2012).



 



4. There is a positive and significant relationship between national IQ and economic growth except for the periods 1987-1998 and 1995-1998 were the correlations are zero.

































































































Economic growth variables



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



GDP per capita, 1890 - 1910



28



.21



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1910 - 1992



47



.53



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1950 - 1990



166



.45



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1976 - 1998



148



.45



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1983 - 1996



181



.28



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1987 - 1998



127



-.01



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1995 - 1998



123



-.01



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002



GDP per capita, 1500 - 2000



109



.71



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



GDP per capita %, 1950 - 2001



132



.39



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



GDP per capita $, 1950 - 2001



132



.75



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



GDP per capita, 1990 - 2002



145



-.06



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Economic growth, 1950 - 1990



185



.44



Rindermann, 2008



Economic growth, 1975 - 2005



126



.37



Meisenberg, 2011



Economic growth, 1975 - 2005



71



.47



Meisenberg & Lynn, 2011




The principal conclusion to be drawn from these studies is that national IQs predict economic growth rates over very long periods, such as 1500-2000 given in row 10, for which the correlation is . 71. Over shorter periods such as 1950-1990 given in row 14, the correlation is lower at .44. Over very short periods such as 1990-2002, the correlation is zero (-.06). The explanation for this is that various shocks such as wars, large increases in the price of oil and so on, reduce the growth rate of some countries in the short term, but over the long term these have little effect and national IQ emerges as the major determinant of economic growth rates.



This conclusion may be surprising to economists because theoretically it would be expected that low IQ countries would have faster economic growth rates than high IQ countries because of what Weede and Kämpf (2002) call the advantage of backwardness. This advantage should be present because of the potential of poor countries to adopt the technologies and management practices of wealthier countries, whereas wealthier countries depend on innovation. However, the studies summarized in this section show that this is not so and that the correlation between national IQs and economic growth over the long period is positive. Meisenberg (2011) discuss this question and suggests that the explanation may be that a high IQ population is more likely to establish effective economic institutions that favour economic growth.


 



5. Poverty



The international criteria for defining poverty as a population living below $1.25 a day (%) and population below $2 a day (%), UNDP's Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI-00-08) are used. The period covered is between 1993 to 2008. The correlations are shown below.



























Dependent variable



N (No. of countries)



Pearson Correlation



Population below $1.25 a day



101



-.667



Population below $2 a day



101



-.710



MPI-00-08



100



-.773




All correlations are negative. National IQ explains 43-61 per cent of the variation in the three measures of poverty. The level of poverty tends to decrease when the level of national IQ rises.



 



6. IQ and Economic volatility



Hafer (2019) has shown that IQ is negatively correlated with economic volatility at -.54 even after controlling for other variables, the relationship remained. On average, high IQ countries are more likely to experience lower growth volatility.



 



7. Income Inequality



Two indicators are used to measure differences in the level of economic inequality within countries: Gini index and the percentage share of income or consumption of the highest 20%.






















Dependent variable



N (No. of countries)



Pearson Correlation



Gini



147



-.466



Highest 20%



147



-.470




Gini and Highest 20% are negatively correlated with national IQ, but correlations are relatively weak. National IQ is related to the level of economic inequality, but the relationship is not strong.



 



8. IQ and Big government and Corruption



Row 1 gives a correlation of -.47 between national IQs and big government defined as government expenditure as a percentage of GDP, 1980-89. The negative correlation indicates that high IQ nations have less big government.



Row 2 gives a correlation of .64 between national IQ and the efficiency of bureaucracy measured as quality and speed of decisions made by public officials.



Rows 3 through 10 give eight negative correlations ranging from -.27 to -.68 between national IQs and the amount of corruption measured as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The negative correlations show that there is less corruption in high IQ countries. The explanation for this proposed by Potrafke (2012, p. 109) is that intelligent people have longer time horizons and can understand that corruption is likely to have negative effects over the long term.









































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Big government



138



-.47



Rindermann, 2008



Bureaucracy: quality



140



.64



Rindermann, 2008a



Corruption, 1999 - 2003



81



-.68



Meisenberg, 2004



Corruption, 1999 - 2003



126



-.54



Meisenberg, 2004



Corruption: 2003



132



-.59



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Corruption, 1999 - 2005



55



-.62



Lynn et al., 2007



Corruption, 1980 - 2003



132



-.60



Rindermann, 2008a



Corruption, 2006



125



-.64



Potrafke, 2012



Corruption, 1996



120



-.27



Meisenberg, 2012a



Corruption, 1990 - 2000



120



-.67



Meisenberg, 2012a




 



9. Democracy, failed state and institutional quality



Rows 11 through 16 give six correlations ranging from .53 to .79 between national IQs and the amount of democracy measured as the extent to which countries have established democracies. Vanhanen (2009) proposed that the explanation for this is that people in countries with low national IQs are not as able to organize themselves, to take part in national politics, and to defend their rights against those in power as people in countries with higher national IQs (Vanhanen, 2009, p. 70). Rows 17 and 18 confirm these positive correlations (.57 and .58) using a different measure of democracy defined as the averaged scores of political rights and civil liberties and based on 126 and 82 nations.



Row 19 gives a correlation of -.58 between national IQs and the Failed State Index, a measure of state vulnerability to political breakdown. Row 20 gives a correlation of .72 between national IQs and institutional quality measured by the Doing Business Index, a measure of the ease of conducting business transactions in 21Asian countries.









































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Democracy, 2002



192



.53



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Democracy, 1950 - 2004



183



.56



Rindermann, 2008a



Democracy, 1996 - 2000



17



.79



Rindermann, 2008b



Democracy



170



.65



Meisenberg, 2009



Democracy



172



.58



Vanhanen, 2009



Democracy, 1950 - 2004



84



.60



Rindermann et al., 2009



Democracy/Freedom



126



.57



Meisenberg, 2011



Democracy/Freedom



82



.58



Meisenberg, 2011



Failed state index



117



-.58



Voracek, 2011



Institutional quality



21



.70



Jones, 2011



 




 



10. Political freedom, power resources, property rights and rule of law



Rows 21 through 25 give five correlations ranging from .49 to .77 between national IQs and the amount of political freedom and citizens' legal rights. Row 26 gives a correlation of .75 between national IQs and Power Resources defined as an index of the equality of the distribution of important intellectual and economic power resources. The positive correlation shows that countries with higher IQs have a more equal distribution of this power. Row 27 gives a correlation of .17 between national IQs and property rights measured as security of property rights and includes the efficiency of government bureaucracy. The correlation is quite low and only statistically significant at p<.1.



Rows 28 through 30 give correlations ranging from .62 to .82 between national IQs and the rule of law defined as an index of the independence of the judiciary and the ability of the citizen to enforce contracts in courts of law.









































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Political freedom



81



.65



Meisenberg, 2004



Political freedom



55



.61



Lynn et al., 2007



Political freedom/rights



17



.77



Rindermann, 2008b



Political freedom



170



.49



Meisenberg, 2009



Political freedom, 1997



86



.62



Rindermann et al., 2009



Power resources



172



.75



Vanhanen, 2009



Property rights



98



.17



Ram, 2007



Rule of law, 1970 - 2000



131



.64



Rindermann, 2008a



Rule of law, 2000



17



.82



Rindermann, 2008b



Rule of law, 1970 - 2000



84



.62



Rindermann et al., 2009




 



11. National IQ of political leaders and state capacity



Jones and Olken (2005), using a unique instrument for change in leadership based on deaths of leaders while in office, provide empirical evidence that leaders do cause economic growth. Besley, Montalvo and Reynal‐Querol (2011) further provide empirical evidence that the educational attainment of leaders matters for economic growth. Dreher et al. (2009) show that reforms are more likely during the tenure of former entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs belonging to a left-wing party are more successful in inducing reforms than a member of a right-wing party with the same previous profession. Former professional scientists also promote reforms, the more so, the longer they stay in office. The impact of politicians' education is not robust and depends on the method of estimation. So, does the cognitive capacity of political leaders to influence state capacity?



Kodila-Tedika (2013) found there is a positive linear relationship between the state capacity and IQ of leading politicians across the world, but in Africa, this conclusion is reversed. The correlation is .37 (p-value = .0095) for state capacity and IQ of politicians for all countries but a negative beta of -.12 for African political leaders.



 



12. National IQ and Health



Studies show that intelligence is positively associated with good health and low mortality among individuals and that the same association would be present across nations. Studies showing that this is the case are summarized below.



Row 1 gives a correlation of -.48 between national IQ and low birth weight defined as below 2500 gr. showing that the incidence of babies with low birth weight is greater in low IQ countries. Barber (2005) suggests the likely explanation is that the incidence of low birth weight is determined largely by the incidence of malnutrition and diseases and that these are partly determined by national IQ. Rows 2 through 8 give seven studies showing negative correlations ranging from -.21 to -.52 between national IQ and various measures of the incidence of HIV and AIDS. The negative correlations show that HIV and AIDS are more prevalent in low IQ countries.









































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Low birth weight



81



-.48



Barber, 2005



HIV/AIDS



129



-.46



Templer, 2008



HIV: percent, 2001 - 3



165



-.48



Rindermann, 2008a



HIV: percent



165



-.48



Rindermann & Meisenberg, 2009



HIV: percent



82



-.30



Rindermann et al., 2009



AIDS: percent, 2001 - 3



83



-.21



Rindermann et al., 2009



HIV: percent



113



-.52



Rushton & Templer, 2009



HIV/AIDS: death



104



-.47



Reeve, 2009



Infant mortality



81



-.34



Barber, 2005



Infant mortality



149



-.77



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006




 



 



Rows 9 through 14 give six studies showing negative correlations ranging from -.34 to -.84 between national IQ and rates of infant mortality. The negative correlations show that rates of infant mortality are higher in low IQ countries. Kanazawa (2006) reports a negative correlation of -.84 based on 126 countries and notes that the unstandardized regression coefficient of 22.5816 for national IQ . . . means that each additional point in the mean IQ of a population saves more than two and half infants from death per 1,000 live births. Rows 15 through 22 give eight studies showing positive correlations ranging from .51 to .84 between national IQ and life expectancy. Row 23 gives a negative correlation of -.49 between national IQs and the percentage of children with malnutrition. Nations with low IQs have low per capita income (r = -.74) and these populations are unable to provide their children with good quality nutrition. Rows 24 and 25 give negative correlations -.72 and -.65 between national IQ and maternal mortality probably reflecting the greater prevalence of infectious diseases and lower health care in low IQ countries.



 







































































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Infant mortality



126



-.84



Kanazawa, 2006



Infant mortality



129



-.84



Templer, 2008



Infant mortality



116



-.67



Rushton & Templer, 2009



Infant mortality



191



-.69



Reeve, 2009



Life expectancy, 2002



192



.75



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Life expectancy, men



126



.78



Kanazawa, 2006



Life expectancy, women



126



.82



Kanazawa, 2006



Life expectancy



56



.76



Lynn et al., 2007



Life expectancy



98



.51



Ram, 2007



Life expectancy



129



.84



Templer, 2008



Life expectancy



116



.74



Rushton & Templer, 2009



Life expectancy



190



.75



Reeve, 2009



Malnutrition



120



-.49



Lynn & Meisenberg, 2011



Mortality: maternal



149



-.73



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Mortality: maternal



131



-.65



Reeve, 2009




 



13. Intelligence and Fertility



There is a negative association between national IQ and fertility – a phenomenon that is now known as dysgenic fertility first observed by Galton.



























































































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Fertility



57



-.80



Lynn et al., 2007



Fertility



192



-.73



Lynn & Harvey, 2008



Fertility



111



-.71



Shatz, 2008



Fertility, 1960 - 84



130



-.73



Rindermann, 2008a



Fertility



192



-.73



Reeve, 2009



Fertility, 2000 - 2005



170



-.83



Meisenberg, 2009



Fertility



192



-.72



Dama, 2011



Birth rate



129



-.85



Templer, 2008



Birth rate



116



-.76



Rushton & Templer, 2009



Maternal age



172



.29



Dama, 2011



Population growth rate



111



-.52



Shatz, 2008



Population pyramids



162



.81



Lynn & Vanhanen, 2006



Sex ratio



192



.57



Dama, 2011




 



14. Crime and Intelligence



There is a negative relationship between national IQ and crime rate.











































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Homicide, 1970s



70



-.50



Lester, 2003



Homicide, 1990s



-



-.82



Templer et al., 2007



Homicide, 1990s



116



-.25



Rushton & Templer, 2009



Rape, 1990s



116



-.29



Rushton & Templer, 2009



Assault, 1990s



116



-.21



Rushton & Templer, 2009




 



15.  National IQ and Liberalism-Conservatism



There is a liberalism-conservatism dimension of political and social values. Liberalism can be defined as a syndrome of values including sympathetic attitudes to the poor, the unemployed, immigrants, criminals, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally retarded, and people with AIDS, toleration of homosexuality, prostitution and others with different views, support for abortion, lack of respect for authority, and lack of belief in religion. Conservatism consists of holding the opposite of these values. It has been shown by Kanazawa (2010) that liberalism is associated with intelligence. He reported that those who identified themselves as very liberal had a childhood IQ of 106.4, while those who identified themselves as very conservative had a childhood IQ of 94.8. Below are studies showing the relationship between national IQ and liberalism.























































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Liberalism



127



.51



Kanazawa, 2009



Modernism



45



.74



Meisenberg, 2004



Post-Modernism



45



.43



Meisenberg, 2004



Interpersonal trust



41



.49



Rindermann, 2008a



Polygyny



187



-.61



Kanazawa, 2009



Polygyny



119



-.53



Dama, 2011



Son preference



119



.18



Dama, 2011




Row 4 gives a positive correlation of .49 between national IQ and interpersonal trust defined as the extent to which people trust each other to behave honestly in transactions. Apparently, interpersonal trust is stronger in more liberal and modern populations.



Row 5 gives a negative correlation of -.61 between national IQ and polygyny, a system in which one man is married to several women, and row 6 confirms this negative correlation of (-.53).



 



16. National IQ and its cognitive expression

















































Variable



N Countries



r x IQ



Reference



Acquiescence



79



-.55



Meisenberg & Williams, 2008



Extremity



79



-.78



Meisenberg & Williams, 2008



Books in home



63



.59



Rindermann, 2008



Speed of life



31



.59



Rindermann, 2008a



War



186



-.22



Rindermann, 2008a



Time preference



10



.70



Jones, 2011




Row 1 gives a negative correlation of -.55 between national IQ and acquiescence defined as the agreement with statements presented in opinion surveys. The negative correlation shows that people in low IQ countries are more likely to acquiesce. Meisenberg and Williams (2008) report that acquiescence is associated at the individual level with low IQ, predict that the same association should be present across nations, and demonstrate that this is the case. Row 2 gives a negative correlation of -.78 between national IQ and extremity defined as the preferential use of the endpoints of the scale in statements presented in opinion surveys. Meisenberg and Williams (2008) note that extremity is associated at the individual level with low IQ, predict that the same association should be present across nations, and verify the prediction.



Row 3 gives a positive correlation of .59 between national IQ and the number of books in the home, largely reflecting the higher literacy in high IQ countries. Row 4 gives a positive correlation of .59 between national IQ and the speed of life as the speed of service at post offices, walking speed and the accuracy of clocks. The positive correlation suggests that the populations of high IQ countries are more energetic and alert.



Row 5 shows a negative correlation of -.22 between national IQ and war measured as participation, intensity and destructive effects of war in the years 1960-2000, including civil wars. The negative correlation shows that high IQ countries have less engagement in war. Row 6 shows a correlation of .70 between national IQ and low time preference in 10 Asian countries. Time preference was measured by responses to the question Would you prefer $3400 this month or $3800 next month? Choosing the second option indicates low time preference or in psychological terms, present orientation, delay discounting and a capacity to delay gratification. It has been shown in a meta-analysis of 24 studies that a low time preference (a capacity to delay gratification) is correlated with IQ at .23 (Shamosh and Gray, 2008)



 



17. National IQ and happiness



Across various measures of happiness, there is a positive and significant correlation with national IQ. 





































Variable



N



Pearson correlation



Spearman rank correlation



Happiness-Veenhoven



148



.640



.619



Satisfaction-Veenhoven



136



.631



.608



Satisfaction-GWP



147



.648



.647



WVS-1+2



57



.373



.480




Note: GWP – Gallup World Poll 2010, WVS – World Values Survey



 



Conclusion



While some of the research findings presented in this paper may sound controversial, one clear thing is that working on the cognitive development of a nation is key to socio-economic development. Governments need to invest in those interventions that enhance the cognitive ability of citizens especially children; better health, better nutrition and emotional stress-free environments. 



 



Main Source:



Intelligence A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences; Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen (2012)



The article was prepared by Memory Nguwi & Douglas Zvomuya both Senior Occupational Psychologists. Email mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com


Memory Nguwi and Douglas Zvomuya
Guest
This article was written by Memory Nguwi and a Guest at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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