*Hive Mind*, by Garett Jones

I am very excited to report that next week will see the publication of Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own, by my colleague Garrett Jones, with Stanford University Press.  This will go down as one of the social science books of the year.

Here is Garett’s opening paragraph:

This isn’t a book about how to raise IQ: it’s a book about the benefits of raising IQ. And a higher IQ helps in ways you might not have realized: on average, people who do better on standardized tests are more patient, are more cooperative, and have better memories. But while dozens of studies by psychologists and economists have established these links, few researchers have connected the dots to ask what this means for entire nations. And since average test scores vary across nations—whether we’re talking about math tests, literacy tests, or IQ tests—an overall rise in national test scores likely means a rise in the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens. This in turn means that higher national test scores will probably matter in ways too big to ignore. And if education researchers and public health officials can find reliable ways to raise national test scores, productivity and prosperity will rise where poverty and disease now flourish.

Here is chapter one, here are Garett’s chapter summaries.  Here is Garett’s home page.  On Twitter, here you will find The Wisdom of Garett Jones.


The summary sounded kind of underwhelming. Yes, high IQ benefits a nation in more than one ways. Was this ever under debate? The key question is how to get there.

Natural Selection gets you there.

Yeah, but the Flynn Effect suggests there's a major non-heritable component to it; either we got better at taking the test or maybe some other environmental influence.

The Flynn Effect has stopped for the last couple of decades. In some countries its even running backwards. All the low-hanging fruit has been picked: better nutrition, better healthcare, universal education. We can't expect an ever-rising GDP to improve our collective IQ.

Might show one limitation of IQ, if any of us can get a Wikipedia synopses in seconds, a YouTube demonstration in a few more.

better nutrition, better healthcare

More calories maybe, but I don't know that the average American diet has improved in the last 20 years. Especially since, let's face it, the people most in need of higher IQs are generally the poorest. They don't shop at Whole Foods.

General knowledge and math scores have only risen by 2 points since 1960:


It's greater media exposure that led to the Flynn Effect. As Steve says, the world started to work more like an IQ test.

Or edumacation.

See my above comment. It's not edumacation. That should be totally defunded. It'd be good for the economy, too.

Obviously by flooding the country with low-IQ immigrants. Obama says so, it must be true!

I do wonder what Jones' open borders colleagues have to say about his work. I understand the exit option is important for avoiding the abuses of tyrannical states (in Alex's case, Canada), but the obvious rejoinder here is that if you exercise a little selectivity in bestowing citizenship, increasing the fraction of patient, cooperative, and informed people among them, that exit option won't be as necessary.

I havn't seen much evidence that Hispanics have lower IQs. Aren't native Americans ultimately of Asian genetic origin? And Spaniards are largely Caucasian. So, if you believe the Bell Curve, the natural IQ of Hispanics ought to be somewhere in between that of Asians and Caucasians. Also, just because people are poor doesn't mean they are dumb. Also, the less stupid ones may be those inclined to emigrate to the US, and especially those who manage to live in the US as an undocumented immigrant without detection.

The ancestors of Native Americans may have been "Asians", but they weren't today's Asians. >10k divergent evolution can do wonders. Also, all the testing says that Hispanics score lower than whites.

The lower score may be due to prenatal or childhood malnutrition, not genetics.

Then why do Hispanics have, on average, longer life spans than White Americans?

Famine and malnutrition has severely affected the mental capacity of those Mexicans born between 1953 and 1964 and led to 23 to 46 million deaths in 1960 and 1961.

Wait a second... those were Chinese who died, and two born during the Great Leap have received the Nobel Prize, ignore that.

Well you must have been burying your head in the sand then

There's not much incentive to investigate this question, considering even the conservative Heritage foundation fired someone for considering it in his doctoral dissertation.

Zing! Hurts right to the bone, quite sadly.

Hazel!!!!!!!!!! There's lots, lots, lots, lots, lots of evidence Hispanics have lower IQs. Sure, Native Americans are ultimately of Asian genetic origin, but so are Indonesians. And Indonesians are not Chinese. The races of Asia are not all the same. The measured IQ of Hispanics is surprisingly close to that of Native Americans and Laotians. Even the standardized test scores of English-only-speaking Puerto Ricans are roughly at this level. Maybe it's disproportionately the low-IQ Spaniards that went to the New World, just like it seems it's disproportionately the low-IQ Jews that decided to raise their kids in Israel.

Indeed, there are many smart poor people. No one's denying that.


If you care to learn something about these topics, type "white hispanic SAT/ACT/NAEP/etc" into Google. Of course, you will find a wealth of statistics, research, etc. For summary data, just look at Google images.


"There’s not much incentive to investigate this question, considering even the conservative Heritage foundation fired someone for considering it in his doctoral dissertation "

There may not be much incentive, but there is plenty of data. Try Google.

Their justification is that by getting them into our system and culture, it will decrease global inequality. If you feel it makes America less pleasant, well that's just a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. At least some of them do have untypeable thoughts about immigrants, they just think it's worth it.

It won't even dent global inequality.

Immigration, poverty and the gumball machine


Comments like yours have the effect of lowering IQ.

I wonder, if the alternative was to flood the country with high-IQ immigrants would people be any happier?

I mean, aren't the high-IQ guys more direct wage competition, at least to the higher wage cohorts?

"I mean, aren’t the high-IQ guys more direct wage competition, at least to the higher wage cohorts?"

Yes, but the high-IQ guys are going to be able to adapt far more easily. How many options does a worker with an IQ of 85 that's been a gardener for 20 years have?

True. But how much does a high-IQ guy care about the misery of the gardener that cannot adapt.

If voters were receptive to voluntarily taking on hardship just because they were more capable of handling it governance would be a hell lot simpler, eh?

"True. But how much does a high-IQ guy care about the misery of the gardener that cannot adapt."

Judging by our current immigration policies, very little.


"I wonder, if the alternative was to flood the country with high-IQ immigrants would people be any happier?"

The answer is probably yes. Two lines of evidence support this assertion. First, back when immigrants coming to the U.S. had (on average) more education than the natives, public support for immigration was considerably higher. The standard paper on this is "International Migration in the Long-Run: Positive Selection, Negative Selection and Policy" by Timothy J. Hatton and Jeffrey G. Williamson. The abstract reads.

"Most labor scarce overseas countries moved decisively to restrict their immigration during the first third of the 20th century. This autarchic retreat from unrestricted and even publicly-subsidized immigration in the first global century before World War I to the quotas and bans introduced afterwards was the result of a combination of factors: public hostility towards new immigrants of lower quality public assessment of the impact of those immigrants on a deteriorating labor market, political participation of those impacted, and, as a triggering mechanism, the sudden shocks to the labor market delivered by the 1890s depression, the Great War, postwar adjustment and the great depression. The paper documents the secular drift from very positive to much more negative immigrant selection which took place in the first global century after 1820 and in the second global century after 1950, and seeks explanations for it. It then explores the political economy of immigrant restriction in the past and seeks historical lessons for the present. "

The second line of evidence is a bit more current. Canada runs an "elitist" immigration system and public approval appears to be higher than in the U.S. Note that in Canada, the children of immigrants do (essentially) as well as the natives in school. In the U.S. the gap (negative of course) is large. In Europe, it is vast.

A related point is that almost all of the controversy over immigration in the U.s. is related to low-skill immigrants. Illegal immigrants (correctly, illegal aliens) are strongly opposed partially because they are illegal, but also because they are at the bottom of the skills ladder. Predictably, their children do poorly as well. Sensible people object to importing poverty, indeed multi-generational poverty.

So how do you explain the onerous rules & obstacles to H1B's etc. These are obviously high IQ immigrants for most part.


The very existence of a special program for (relatively) high-skill immigrants supports my (broad) thesis. The details of why U.S. immigration remains predominantly low-skill is a broader question. Basically, it amounts to path-dependency where years of low-skill immigration has produced political (racial) constituencies in favor of the status quo and private / public sector interests that profit from the current system (teacher's unions and plantation operators). In this context it is worth noting that most (but not quite all) restriction proposals focus on low-skill immigration. Donald Trump isn't proposing a wall to keep out H1B's.

As you know, I strongly oppose the H1B system (on indentured servitude grounds) and favor the Canadian approach (once admitted a person should be free to take and quit any job).

"The key question is how to get there."

not a problem for Garrett Jones -- he suggests "... education researchers and public health officials can find reliable ways to raise national test scores.."
All you need are huge government education & health bureaucracies to perfect human beings.

The subject of IQ is extremely uncertain and controversial. Generally, IQ is how well you do on a specific IQ test compared to other people your age (psychometric intelligence); such measurement is crude and variable.

Inherent biological intelligence (neural efficiency) is very stable in a given human. One's measured IQ score is an indirect and imperfect method of estimating biological intelligence. Very improbable that this basic intelligence can be increased.

Does seem readily possible to improve one's (secondary) neural efficiency and cognitive functions.

(..with natural selection across generations-- death is the only improvement method)

I am pretty sure that my intelligence developed much more quickly after I realized I wasn't good at much else. I suspect neutal plasticity is applied in this way, when not used to pilot a surf board.

No evidence for that whatsoever. I guarantee you the high IQ are better at surfing just like everything else

Okay, but it does not say or suggest that abandoning other activities and studying makes you smarter. All it says is that practicing a mental task (in this one study) improved your ability to perform that task temporarily.

Above what IQ level does IQ no longer predict surfing capability?

Have you never thought about the feedback loop as people "good at studying" study more, and those "bad at studying" study less?

Sure, people specialize. People who are innately better at surfing tend to pick up surfing at greater rates and with more practice they become even better. I am sure that is true of most activities. But I am not sure that innate intelligence can be increased with practice. I admit it is an open question. But it's not true that high-IQ people are on average worse at other things like surfing- actually they are better on average. I suppose you could make a theory of comparative advantage but it's not like high IQ people got smart because they were bad at surfing

When we talk about hive mind, and national IQ, are we talking "high," like two standard deviations high?

I suspect not, I think what Garett is probably saying is that if you can just move the nation as a whole by a few points you reap big gains.

"I suspect not, I think what Garett is probably saying is that if you can just move the nation as a whole by a few points you reap big gains."

I think that leads to some good questions. What minimum level would it take to make a detectable change? How would you measure that change?


Good points.

That's why I'm annoyed the abstracted paragraph was entirely non-quantitative.

Just saying there's an effect isn't very useful unless we know the magnitude of the effect. Fine, IQ increases co-operation. The real question is by how much?

Is the New York Times article on society and PISA saying the same thing differently or is it saying something different?


Jason Richwine, call your office.

Good reference, but looking through the chapter abstracts, Jones says that intelligence is more likely to correlate with socially liberal and market-oriented viewpoints, and that low-skill immigration has what he calls "small or negligible costs." So I don't think he's saying that we need more white immigration and less non-white immigration, like Richwine was saying. He also seems to be emphasizing the environmental component of increasing IQ scores, which to me implies that if you moved a bunch of people from a country like Chad or Eritrea to a country like the US or Canada, then you'd find increasing IQ scores. Whereas Richwine says IQ is so heavily heritable that we basically need to lock Hispanic and African nationals in their countries.

I'm skeptical of IQ theories in general. But to the extent IQ tests are just a proxy for education and economic development, I can sort of see where Jones is going. Whereas I can't really find an angle where Richwine makes any sense to me.

Google "IQ by country" and note the chart showing IQ, and note in developing countries it's much less than 100. Here in the Philippines it's in the low 80s, and keep in mind 10 points is a 'big deal' with IQ. In the USA/UK/Germany/China (fake data, they only are measuring Shanghai,Beijing)/Japan/Italy and, surprisingly, Mongolia, and, not surprisingly, Singapore, IQ is around 98 to 105. Greece is in the low 90s, consistent with my impression that the people there are dumber than in the USA. Retardation in the USA starts at 80 and below, and, as Steve Sailor might inform you, in Africa the countries routinely poll in the 60s for IQ.

A wag once pointed out (and he's right) that an ordinary white-collar (or even blue collar) professional in the USA would, in some developing countries, be a "superstar". Same goes for dating. An Ordinary Joe in the USA becomes George Clooney in the Third World. And a genuine superstar and 1%-er like myself? Well, to be honest, it's so unheard of that the people can't even fathom it, so I don't even try explaining how exceptional I am. I just say "I'm from the US" and they fall head-over-heels with me. No use using a nuclear bomb where a ordinary flyswatter will do.

This probably has more to do with prenatal and childhood nutrition, as well as early childhood education, than with genetics. Also, fetal alcohol syndrome.

"This" meaning Ray Lopez? Come on, that's unwarranted.

No, I mean, the difference in IQ scores between the undeveloped and developed parts of the world. Malnutrition does a lot of bad things to fetal and infant brain development.

It's very offensive to suggest that Ray Lopez is retarded because of environment. It's clearly genetic.

Citation needed.

Other people have thought of that before you and there is research on it.

Not for Greece and Cyprus. Compare Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and especially Hungary and Croatia. All these countries are much poorer than Greece and Cyprus. If you were to look at economic development alone, you'd see little difference in measured test scores between Korea and Greece in 2002. In fact, Korean scores were much higher. [citation not needed].


Many things are different in the Third World, including the meaning of the word 'dating' when applied to old foreign men.


Most Hispanics in the U.S. call themselves White. Richwine may have indicated his support for more high-skilled Asian immigration with that dissertation.

"if you moved a bunch of people from a country like Chad or Eritrea to a country like the US or Canada, then you’d find increasing IQ scores."

-No shit, Sherlock. We have this natural experiment already with U.S. Blacks and Mestizos as compared to those in Black and Mestizo majority countries.


"low-skill immigration has what he calls “small or negligible costs.”"

Alas, life for the factually challenged. Low-skill immigrant households are extremely expensive tax consumers. The tax costs of low-skill immigration alone, make it a terribly bad deal for Americans. Everyone who looks at the numbers, for even a few minutes knows this. From Heritage

““In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.

At the end of the interim period (after the Amnesty is complete), unlawful immigrants would become eligible for means-tested welfare and medical subsidies under Obamacare. Average benefits would rise to $43,900 per household; tax payments would remain around $16,000; the average fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) would be about $28,000 per household.””

From George Borjas (Kennedy School of Government)

“There’s also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It’s time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.”

Of course, I could quote all sorts of detailed studies on the subject (from many countries) all of which say the same thing. However, what’s the point?

Like it or not claiming that low-skill immigrants and the welfare state play nice is about as far removed from the truth as you can get. Statements like this make Donald Trump look like a model of rigorous intellectual integrity (which compared to the Open Borders crowd, he is).


Like it or not, immigrant underperformance in American life is deep and multi-generational.

From “Honesty from the Left on Hispanic Immigration – A provocative new book doesn’t flinch from delivering the bad news” (http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1008hm.html)

“John McCain and Barack Obama have largely avoided discussing immigration during the presidential campaign. But when it comes to the legal side of the issue, they both seem to support the status quo: an official policy centered around low-skilled, predominately Hispanic immigrants. A forthcoming book shows just how misguided that policy is, especially in light of the nation’s current economic woes. The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, by Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras, offers an unflinching portrait of Hispanics’ educational problems and reaches a scary conclusion about those problems’ costs. The book’s analysis is all the more surprising given that its authors are liberals committed to bilingual education, affirmative action, and the usual slate of left-wing social programs. Yet Gandara and Contreras, education professors at UCLA and the University of Washington, respectively, are more honest than many conservative open-borders advocates in acknowledging the bad news about Hispanic assimilation.

Hispanics are underachieving academically at an alarming rate, the authors report. Though second- and third-generation Hispanics make some progress over their first-generation parents, that progress starts from an extremely low base and stalls out at high school completion. High school drop-out rates—around 50 percent—remain steady across generations. Latinos’ grades and test scores are at the bottom of the bell curve. The very low share of college degrees earned by Latinos has not changed for more than two decades. Currently only one in ten Latinos has a college degree."

From a prior post.

“Immigrant underperformance in American society is well established. Indeed, we have a wealth of information that the deficits in question are multigenerational out to the 4/5th generation. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the deficits are genetic, social, or cultural as long as they persist. So far they are persisting. There are number of sources to support this statement, mostly from Hispanic analysts. See “Honesty from the Left on Hispanic Immigration – A provocative new book doesn’t flinch from delivering the bad news”. The authors cited by Heather MacDonald are Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras.

Telles and Ortiz have made much the same argument. The following is from a letter they wrote to the New York Times.

“In our book “Generations of Exclusion,” we show that the descendants of Mexicans do not experience the steady progress into the third and fourth generations that has been documented for those of European ancestry.”

Samuel Huntington wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, “The Hispanic Challenge” showing academic underperformance out to the 4th generation. Note this his data shows significant declines in academic performance from the 3rd to the 4th generation.”

As you can see, legal status is not even a material issue in this context. We have (of late) another data point that is somewhat germane. It turns out the Puerto Rico has (by far) the worst schools in the U.S. (vastly worse than Mississippi).

Sounds like he wants to remain gainfully employed.

So China is a model now? More governments should cheat on tests to win praise from naive pundits.

How/why would the government cheat on a test?

Ever heard of the Georgia scandal?

How does he tackle the obvious endogeneity issue? As the first commenter said, obviously higher IQ is good, but how do we get it--and isn't a higher IQ a byproduct of "getting there"? Still, I'm glad some people are brave enough to talk about IQ

Hence my focus on microfoundations: I wrote a book in the style of modern macro. Many of the chapters look at micro-founded studies (often experiments) showing how IQ predicts the value of an important economic parameter, and then I show how that parameter plays a key role in economic theory. I conclude with cross-country multivariate tests to see if national average IQ robustly predicts higher values across countries. So step by step I extend from the lab to the theory to the cross-country comparisons.

And my last paragraphs in the book are about the possibility of what I call a "Flynn Cycle," a virtuous cycle where public health interventions raise IQ which raises prosperity which raises funding for public health interventions (or extra, poorly understood Flynn effects), which raises prosperity and so on.

Econ works through ceteris paribus thought experiments, and then we eventually combine those thought experiments into a more complex, complete model. Supply and demand is the obvious example. I do the same in my book: IQ shapes prosperity according to microfounded channels, prosperity shapes IQ according to the Flynn effect. Both are true stories.

Alia non sunt paribus.

Have you distinguished between IQ and g? My understanding is that the Flynn effect was not g-loaded so trying to get Flynn-effect IQ points might not be helpful (depending on whether it is IQ or the underlying g factor driving those economic correlations).

Interesting approach! I hope to find time to read it.

Some questions in the meanwhile: are the micro-foundations you found simply predictive of outcomes, or do you claim robust causality? What's to exclude a common genetic factor, for instance? In such a world, mimicking education patterns would be less efficient than a health policy to introduce those genes into your population.

And what do you have to say about the fact that the IQ tests are designed by rich, successful countries and are somewhat path-dependent on history? Suppose IQ tests have big blind spots (e.g., they completely fail to measure social/emotional intelligence) that go unnoticed because historically they do seem to be predictive of economic outcomes. Then IQ tests might fail spectacularly in the next century as paradigms of economic value change in ways never before seen in history.

There is no such thing as social or emotional intelligence. There is social competence and emotional stability, but the obsession with conflating any good attribute with intelligence in order to erode the meaningfulness of the concept of intelligence is not serving anybody well.

Very well. There may be blind spots nonetheless (another speculative example: superforecasting a la Tetlock) which will translate into outsized economic advantages in the future, and I'm interested in the author's take.

Agreed on that count- and cultural factors. But IQ may be just one of several complementary factors.

I don't see it as eroding the meaningfulness of intelligence. I see it as raising the status of emotion, which is often looked down on by high IQ types.

Regardless of what you think of his IQ or policies, Bill Clinton has something that makes him more charismatic. We just have a hard time measuring it at the moment.

I never thought of charisma as "emotional intelligence" (or emotional anything). Sure it's a thing like many others that is important and to some extent (but not entirely) separate from intelligence. But why try to conflate the two? I think people recognize that charisma is a valuable thing to have without calling it an intelligence.

To me charisma means "knowing how to act, at a given point in time, with a given person, to get what you want."

There are multiple inputs in play. Evaluating them in real time, then adjusting your behavior based on even more inputs --- I think it's fair to call that a kind of intelligence.

The excerpts seem to emphasize things that correlate with the Big Five -- patience, cooperation etc. Did your research look at personality tests as well?


If you actually believe that low-skill immigration has “small or negligible costs", you need to look at some of the other replies. in real life, the costs are vast even without considering the implications of lowering the overall skill level of the nation.

Better prenatal and early childhood nutrition would help tremendously in developing countries.
Marginal improvements can be made in the developed world by continuing to do things like educate people against drinking during pregnancy, getting lead and mercury out of the environment, etc. Also encouraging breastfeeding over formula for infants - it's healthier and babies that don't get sick will develop better.

"Also encouraging breastfeeding over formula for infants – it’s healthier and babies that don’t get sick will develop better. "

Is that true if the mother is malnourished? My guess is that formula for infants is probably a huge boon in areas with chronic malnutrition. It's quite possible that pushing a breastfeeding agenda in a third world country is counter productive.

Hmm. Good point. More research needed on that issue.


Also, the effect of breastfeeding on gastrointestinal health of babies is really small, even though it's much better established than the IQ effects which probably don't really exist. It's like one day of tummy trouble over the course of childhood.

Yep, there are very few scientifically provable benefits to breast feeding, and those that exist are fairly small. It's definitely not harmful. By all means do it if you want, but don't shame those that don't.

"By all means do it if you want, but don’t shame those that don’t."

You will be shamed by the current medical establishment. Indeed, within a two year period (2011 to 2013) at the hospital my wife delivered in, the hospital banned complimentary formula cans. Previously (2011), you could get a free can (and a pack of coupons) of two or three different brands. By 2013, hospital policy prohibited the complimentary formula.

Has anyone studied vaginal birth vs. c-section on infant health?

"Has anyone studied vaginal birth vs. c-section on infant health?"

Google shows lots of research. But it's another thing that's hard to get a straight answer on because you can't do a randomized double-blind experiment, and women who get c-sections often have reasons for getting c-sections. For example, obese women are more likely to have c-sections, and more likely to have less healthy babies.

The main benefit is not gastrointestinal, it is immunity. The mother passes on immunity to pathogens through her breastmilk.

Even better, the baby transmits pathogens to the mother, the mother's more developed immune system develops an antibody, and gives it back to the baby through her breastmilk the next time the baby feeds.

there are very few scientifically provable benefits to breast feeding

This is demonstrably false.


Hazel, most of the studies showing benefits to breastfeeding have correlation problems. Wealthier and higher educated women tend to breast feed more, wealthier and higher educated women have healthier babies regardless of breast feeding status. Hard to tease out the direct effect, especially on some of the wilder claims like IQ. There probably is some benefit, but not enough to justify the religious-level shaming that accrues to women who don't have the time or inclination or ability (some women's breasts just don't do the job well enough).

I'm not saying it's bad to breast feed, I'm saying it's bad to tear down those who don't.

"I’m not saying it’s bad to breast feed, I’m saying it’s bad to tear down those who don’t."

While I agree that the shaming is bad, I'd go a little farther. Breastfeeding has costs, and if the benefits are low or non-existent, maybe it is a bad decision. Most obviously, it's exhausting for the mom. It's also hard to combine with returning to work. In some cases, the feeling of obligation to breastfeed is a deterrent to having additional children.

It's not that hard to combine with returning to work. You just need a decent breast pump. Also, some women exclusively pump, which gives you the flexibility to pump on your own schedule, and then have a caretaker feed the baby the pumped milk in a bottle.

@msgkings - this is just like the minimum wage debate. There aren't just studies showing that breastfed babies are healthier, there are also biological theories that explain why - breastmilk has all sorts of properties that are ideal for infant nutrition and health. Formula has not been able to duplicate everything about it.

Note : the IQ effect, as I said is likely marginal and just due to better health in infancy. Babies who are sick less often are going to develop a little faster during that crucial period.

Hazel, the IQ effect doesn't exist.

Find a doctor who is statistically literate and who reads the literature and you'll hear that. There's strong evidence of a small GI health effect - it's the one thing people point to with real evidence. There's weak and probably spurious evidence for everything else you see mentioned.

Regarding pumping and work, that depends a lot on your job, and it still requires being up at night. For a tiny positive effect.

A big problem with formula is the lack of clean water as diarrheal diseases are quite deadly for infants

Good point, that I wasn't aware of.

Actually the opposite - many 3d world countries can't guarantee a clean water supply, which is necessary for formula feeding (since newborns have no immune system of their own to speak of). Breast milk is the only safe option. In the 1st world, formula is probably fine.

if by "fine" you mean "okay". It's true there are some women who can't breastfeed for various reasons, so there's nothing morally "wrong" with using formula, and I don't think it should be banned. But there is plenty of evidence that breastfeeding is superior from a health perspective.

I'd be pretty agnostic on this but my wife certainly agrees with you; I find it wise to agree with her.

What content of this work (or what characteristic of the author) will protect it from being received like Herrnstein & Murray's Bell Curve? Less talk about the distribution of IQ or intelligence and more focus on the qualities that intellect is said to impart?
At some point not only is "IQ" treated as racial code but, in our ongoing wars over education policy (and making education policy about every aspect of life other than pedagogy itself), "intelligence" itself comes quickly to be viewed just as suspiciously. --which in turn will yield a sure response from some genius at Harvard proposing a new notion of "multiple intelligences".
Might not abolishing public education outright be easier?

TBC has been cited over 7500 times, and as I reviewed the IQ literature in psychology, I kept seeing Murray and Herrnstein's book cited completely routinely. Murray and Herrnstein's theories get debated, agreed with by some and disagreed with by others, but it is safe to say that it is a book that the median psychometrician treats as a serious work, a serious contribution.

Shows what a low bar this field has if a book by an admitted white supremacist racist gets cited seriously, lol. Good luck with your book however, it sounds interesting.

They admitted that where?

((Rothbard)), ((Murray)), and ((Herrnstein)) are not the first people that pop into my head when I think of "White supremacists".

Says the guy who arbitrages supremacy by living among a less-supreme populace.

I'd rather be number one in a village than number two in Rome.


From my reading of history, number 2 in Rome was a pretty good deal. The population of ancient Rome exceeded 1 million in some periods.


I am sure Garett is right that aggregate IQ improves national prospects, but you Edward sound like someone a little too caught up in IQ as merit. Our world is made much brighter by many without conventional genius.

When not a part-time Machiavellian, I'm a part-time Vichian: when neither, I dabble in 'pataphysics and speculative fiction. I suppose I'd never dared guess I could be so conventional. Drat and darn. (I must need to imbibe deeply in some robust Armagnac with distinct quantum capabilities.)

"Vichian" was good, but I think we should go for the simple truth that we meet a lot of good people every day, and don't (I hope) worry about their place on the curve. If they have a talent, any kind of talent, good for them. Imbibe soda pop in the sunshine, and call it good.

Extraordinary that you could get that from his comment

It was the antagonism toward "multiple intelligences."

I can certainly understand why more IQ is better, but I am less convinced that less is bad. I mean, how should someone in the top few percent on IQ look back at the majority population? As inferiors?

I agree, a lower IQ does not make someone an inferior person. But to me that is not related to criticism of the multiple intelligence theory, I do not really get the connection. As I understand it, it is an unscientific theory and basically a semantic exercise attempting to conflate every ability with intelligence so that no one is unintelligent, which in my opinion is not useful.

"...how should someone in the top few percent on IQ look back at the majority population? As inferiors? "

And yet it happens all the time. How many comments deriding Red State residents do you see? Plenty. Of course, I suspect a lot of the people making such comments aren't as smart as they think they are.

Like anything else, someone can formalize an idea like "multiple intelligence" and mess it up. In real life a good salesman is good in a different way than a good accountant. There is no unifying skill between the two. One is gregarious and one is withdrawn. Now sure, a person with sufficiently high general intelligence could do either job, but that's not the way it usually breaks. Usually people with a mix of skills, and not super brains, migrate to what they do well.

JWatts, if someone is taking evolution out of the textbooks, I find it hard to rate that a high IQ state. That much is true.

I mean, how should someone in the top few percent on IQ look back at the majority population? As inferiors?

It's a common side effect at /r/INTJ.

Its apotheosis is at /r/iamverysmart.

It's a very strongly learned experience by a great many people that anyone that talks about IQ very much (which given that the baseline is none, means much at all) is going to turn out to be an obnoxious jerk. Such heuristics can be quite valuable even if they aren't absolute.

It takes at least two people to have such a conversation. Though, that doesn't mean you're wrong.

I does not c wut is soooooo importent abut IQ. Oh, woo-woo you have hi IQ. Does that make you smart or sumthing?

Excellent blogging. Now go back to TheMoneyIllusion where you belong.

A twenty year old in 1996 had a higher IQ than a 20 year old years earlier. But has it gone downhill since then? World IQ's have been rising.

"An individual's IQ score remains relatively constant across their lifespan. Recently researchers have been addressing a different type of stability (or instability) in IQ scores--the fact that IQ scores have been steadily increasing in developed countries over the past 50 or 60 years. The so-called "Flynn effect" provides for an interesting discussion of environmental and cultural impact on IQ. The effect is named after political scientist James Flynn, who has researched this effect extensively. Azar (1996) reports in the APA Monitor on a recent (1996) conference of experts that focused on reasons for the Flynn effect. The APA-sponsored conference was titled "Intelligence on the rise: secular changes in IQ and related measures."

A particularly striking statistic is that the average IQ of a 20-year old in 1996 is approximately 15 points higher than that of a 20-year old 50 years ago. Most suspect that the rising IQ scores do not reflect a change in g, the global intelligence purportedly measured by traditional tests. Rather, escalating scores are thought to be the product of more specific skills that allow people to excel on tasks like those included in these tests, along with improved socioeconomic status, better nutrition, and an increasingly technological society.

According to Azar's (1996) report, the increase in IQ scores differs somewhat, depending on the particular measure used to assess intelligence. On the Raven's Progressive Matrices IQ test, which emphasizes visuo-spatial skills, the increase has been dramatic. The maximum score on this test is 60 points; people (born in 1877) tested in 1942 scored an average 24, while people (born in 1967) tested in 1992 scored an average of 54! Because IQ is based on average score of a population, both were said to have an IQ of 100 in their respective generations. It should also be noted that these two samples were of substantially different ages when they took the test (65 and 25), but this difference is not likely to be the only cause of the IQ score discrepancy.

The increase in average IQ scores has not been as dramatic for traditional intelligence tests such as the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. These tests, in addition to testing visuo-spatial ability, also test more verbally-acquired, school-taught knowledge such as vocabulary, general knowledge, and arithmetic. The fact that scores on traditional tests of intelligence has not increased as dramatically suggests that the increases are the product of skills that aren't particularly affected by schooling. Also, Ulric Neisser, who organized the conference, argues that the rapidity of the increase argues against a genetic explanation. According to Neisser, the reason must be environmental.

What environmental changes might account for rising IQ scores? The article reports a number of possible factors. First, the technology boom seen since the industrial revolution has made people more adept at skills that are measured on IQ tests. Our society has become increasingly visual ever since the advent of movies in the 1920's. Neisser believes that this experience and practice with visual manipulation has led to an enhancement of these skills, and a corresponding rise in IQ. Some also cite the video game as a possible source of enhanced performance on visuo-spatial components of IQ tests.

Others cite improvements in social conditions as a possible cause of the Flynn effect. Better nutrition in industrialized countries has led to a decrease in low-birth-weight babies, and a decrease in cases of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies.

Another likely factor driving increases in IQ is the level of parents education. Steven Ceci notes that the more education a parent has, the higher their child's IQ--from the mid-1970's to 1990, the number of parents who had attended college rose 70% for non-minorities, 350% for minorities.

The Monitor article also reports that gaps between achievement test scores of Whites and African- Americans in the U.S. showed a substantial decrease from 1971 to 1990. Researchers Robert Hauser and David Grissmer note that this is a period when the federal government was investing more money in educational programs directed at equalizing opportunity for minority children. Also, the greatest gains in IQ were shown by those with the lowest scores. These findings support the promising conclusion that environmental factors, such as improvements in the educational system, can produce changes in intelligence., The Flynn effect and its probable causes demonstrate that intellectual ability is not an immutable, unchanging characteristic."

Here is the link: http://psych.wisc.edu/braun/281/Intelligence/RisingIQ.htm

> According to Azar’s (1996) report, the increase in IQ scores differs somewhat, depending on the particular measure used to assess intelligence. On the Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ test, which emphasizes visuo-spatial skills, the increase has been dramatic. The maximum score on this test is 60 points; people (born in 1877) tested in 1942 scored an average 24, while people (born in 1967) tested in 1992 scored an average of 54! Because IQ is based on average score of a population, both were said to have an IQ of 100 in their respective generations. It should also be noted that these two samples were of substantially different ages when they took the test (65 and 25), but this difference is not likely to be the only cause of the IQ score discrepancy.

Ever see an eighty year old fumble with an iPad? They have about the same capacity to intuit the interface as a drunken, retarded lunatic. This is true even if they're educated, intelligent and clever. All that goes out the window with simple interfaces that toddlers quickly grasp. This seems related to the Raven's Matrices discrepancy.

I teach bicycles in various settings. I regularly watch educated, intelligent, clever 30 year olds fumble as you describe with simple spring/hinge/cable devices.f I don't know for certain how long they'd take to make sense of these things if left entirely on their own. Some would take a very long time. I'm there to help them learn so I provide hints.
Do you think there's something especially opaque about current electronic devices? We learned to use them in stages; the interfaces have become more subtle and complex over the decades. If you've been using computers for that long, you picked up each new layer of subtlety as it was added. Your 80 year old, handed an i-thing, has to learn a lot at once, with few clues. Do you think the 80yo finds it more difficult because at that age learning is harder or because this particular new thing is so unfamiliar?

Interesting observation about the bicycle. I really don't know if the 80yo's lack of skill with tablets is due to a lack of crystallized or fluid intelligence (i.e. learned skills vs general cognitive ability). I do know my grandmother couldn't even get the concept of touching the icon where it is on the screen on a smartphone. For some reason she kept pressing below the icon, despite however much everyone kept telling her otherwise.

That one might be a simple vision or coordination problem. Yet another source of difficulties.
I think that we use more skills in operating a computer than we realize. We picked up some of them while focused on the more intellectual aspects of computer use and continue to refine them without being aware of it. I first noticed this while getting my mother onto a pc in the 1990s and working with an 80 year old friend on his computer issues.
We're used to interpreting subtle cues on the screen, like links being of a slightly different color from the rest of the text. We have well-defined expectations about what a website will let us do (eg, there'll be a link to technical documents if that's called for) We know the differences between various touch pad and mouse gestures. We've assimilated patterns that are near-universal in electronic devices (like entering a menu, selecting an item within it, sometimes through several layers, then telling the device to execute our selection. Older newcomers to computers have to learn all these things while trying to understand the devices at other levels as well.
Bikes are a whole lot simpler than computers but I get to watch people struggling with the same problem of trying to simultaneously learn manual skills, notice and interpret relevant details and build a working model in their minds of this alien object.
Young children are reportedly better at this sort of learning; I haven't observed this. Even if they're not smarter or quicker at it, they have much more time to put into the project.

That might be an example of multiple intelligences. There are otherwise successful people who have trouble with Ikea.

(I think Ikea kits are fun.)

Do you like following the instructions or is it the challenge of tossing them and winging it?

Maybe it's just less lead in the environment.

The idea that the black white IQ gap narrowed in the period is popular but I am not convinced that it is well supported. It's based on the finding that the black white gaps for certain age groups narrowed on NAEP tests.
The gap only narrowed if you examine younger rather than older children and NAEP isn't a measure of intelligence.

Anon: the narrowing really happened. But after ~1992....


the Gap grew!

An alternate version:

This isn’t a book about how to raise IQ: it’s a book about how better patience, cooperation, and memory can raise IQ. And you get improved patience, memory, and cooperation in ways you might not have realized: on average, people who are more patient, are more cooperative, and have better memories do better on standardized tests. But while dozens of studies by psychologists and economists have established these links, few researchers have connected the dots to ask what this means for entire nations. And since the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens vary across nations, an overall rise in the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens likely means a rise in national test scores—whether we’re talking about math tests, literacy tests, or IQ tests. This in turn means that the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens will probably matter in ways too big to ignore. And if education researchers and public health officials can find reliable ways to raise the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens, productivity and prosperity will rise where poverty and disease now flourish.

Ah the Endogeneity Taliban makes its appearance. Head for the hills!

Alas, if only I'd heard of this "endogeneity" before I wrote the book!

Their credo brings fear to all empirical researchers:

"1. We will protest about the endogeneity of your explanatory variable, even before your motivation slide
2. We will criticize all your instruments but will never make any constructive suggestions
3. We will feel morally superior to you

We are the Endogeneity Taliban"

I LOL'ed. That was excellent.

You're exactly right on 1 & 2, but not on 3. My feelings of morally superiority and inferiority are completely unrelated to endogeneity. I'm trying to decide whether to buy or read this book. The author responds to me with snark, not really saying much about endogeneity other than "I thought of it, trust me, its in the book." I personally don't find that very satisfying so I doubt I will read this one.

Perhaps the snarkiness will impress other readers that he is clever and sharp-witted, so I doubt he'll let me get in his way.


The importance of IQ really is under debate. The usual labor economics angle on IQ is "Hey, the effect size of IQ is small and the R-squared of IQ in a wage regression is maybe 10%." In wage regressions, 1 IQ point predicts perhaps 1% higher wages, so that's not going to explain the wealth of nations. If you want to find out whether test scores matter a lot for nations, you immediately have to start asking about multiplier effects, about externalities.

That's why the book is mostly about externalities and close relatives: voting, cooperation, credible commitments, capital that disproportionately stays in your own country (Feldstein-Horioka), O-ring type sectors.

As you'll see from the Table of Contents, most of the book is about these microfoundations, about precise ways in which higher cognitive skills have underreported payoffs. Perhaps with a few more books out there on the same topic and a couple of dozens more studies on whether intelligence is a form of Coasian intelligence, academics will be persuaded that test scores deserve more attention in debates about the wealth of nations.

Gintis and Bowles discuss IQ in their Inheritance of Inequality paper: http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/~bowles/Dominance/Papers/2002JEP.pdf

Should be a starting place for anyone interested in IQ and economics (its only 25 pages of actual text).

But the Gintis/Bowles article is, alas, a microeconomics story about individuals. My story is about nations. Gintis and Bowles show up in my book of course, but macroeconomics is my real story. And "The macroeconomics of IQ" is a story that few have been telling.

Hello Dr. Jones,

Are you familiar with the writings of the behavioral genetics blogger Jayman? He's written extensively on national IQ. In fact he believes that IQ and a trait known as clannishness can explain almost all of the variation in national wealth:


Yes, Jayman has been a valuable datablogger, he's always showing up in my social media feeds. I tend to think that cross-country correlations can only go so far, since everything correlates with everything else. It's a valuable start, but then more is needed for understanding and testing and ruling out alternatives. I tend to focus on microfoundations, on theory-driven stories, that's what most of the book is about. That's how I can rule out "chandelier-o-nomics": Rich countries have more of X, so let's give more of X to poorer countries.

GJ, you claim that IQ explains only a small share of variation in lifetime income, but AFAIK this has never been tested. I wouldn't be surprised if the R-squared was, say, 30%, if you regressed income averaged across a couple of decades in mid-life on IQ tested in early adulthood.

The Gintis and Bowles paper uses extremely low-ball parameter values and contains a mathematical error in a crucial place (they square the R-squared).


Naive question: So when you do account for the indirect effects what percent of wage increase or national wealth does IQ predict?

Alternatively, how much of patience, co-operation or memory is explained by IQ as opposed to other regressors?

Do you have causal reasons to believe IQ results in better patience etc. than the other way around?

From his summary of chapter 9: "The chapter closes by noting the tension between this chapter's claim that lower-skilled immigration has small economic costs and the evidence of the previous chapters that higher-scoring citizens are likely to improve government quality."

Does he go beyond noting the tension, or just let it sit there?

can't remember tbh

Of the "channels" identified by Jones, I'd say cooperation is the most important. And I say this in part based on the Vanderbilt "free-form negotiation game" concerning a lease with an anchor tenant (department store) in a mall. As anyone who has negotiated mall leases knows, the mall owner makes her profits from the leases with the "local tenants", who pay higher rental rates are are subject to restrictions and requirements that don't apply to the anchor tenant, which typically pays a lower rental rate and has fewer restrictions and requirements. That may seem counter-intuitive but it's not: the anchor brings the customers (the "traffic") to the mall, and it's the local tenants who benefit as a result. Lose the anchor tenant and the mall will collapse. In developed countries, much of the progress is attributable to cooperation. That becomes apparent when developed countries are contrasted with less developed countries, in which conflict is the norm. Of course, it doesn't take a genius level IQ to appreciate the benefits of cooperation, so why are less developed countries plagued by conflict and experience a shortage of cooperation. I would argue that cooperation is more likely when people are similar: similar in education, similar in religion, similar in goals, similar in economic and social status; in other words, more equal. People in less developed countries tend to be dissimilar: dissimilar in education, dissimilar in religion, dissimilar in goals, dissimilar in economic and social status; in other words, more unequal. What happens to a developed country when people become more dissimilar, more unequal? Cooperation declines, conflict rises.

Would many poor countries citizens be better off if the countries broke up into much smaller countries?

Maybe. Certainly India.

Not obvious at all.

"Of course, it doesn’t take a genius level IQ to appreciate the benefits of cooperation, so why are less developed countries plagued by conflict and experience a shortage of cooperation."

-Read. The. Pseudoerasmus. Post.

"I would argue that cooperation is more likely when people are similar: similar in education, similar in religion, similar in goals, similar in economic and social status; in other words, more equal."

-Detroit must have been booming from the 1970s to the 2000s, then.

"rise in national test scores likely means a rise in the number of more patient, more cooperative, and better-informed citizens" What's the evidence that it's 'likely'?

How does Jones stay in polite society, but Steve Sailer can't get in, and Jason Richwine gets drummed out? He must have a good PR guy I guess.

I recently read The General Theory of Love, and I have been thinking along these lines, except substitute IQ for emotional health. The thing is that I imagine they're correlated rather heavily. Imagine if there was a mass of emotionally healthy people in our country/world. What could that mean economically? Could it perhaps mean yet another exponential surge in wealth on the scale of the industrial revolution?

For sure

Seems interesting. Enjoyed chapter one. Sad that a constructive effort to raise IQ so confuses those above who believe in fixed prospects.

Very sad that Gochujang is so confused about the beliefs of people he doesn't like

Explain "Natural Selection gets you there" to me, without resorting to racism.

A) It's a troll/satire post because the username is "Jim Jones" and it's obviously meant to be inflammatory

B) It's a tautology that if IQ is selected for, natural selection will result in higher IQ

So, do you "like" this "Jim Jones?"

No I don't, it's a stupid comment and it makes the blog look bad and risks many stupid follow-up comments and an appearance from E. Harding. But that probably was the intention of the commentor


Interesting, according to a random and spammy web app "There are 958 people in the U.S. named Jim Jones." Probably not a name given too frequently these days.

Risk of an appearance from E. Harding now a certainty.

Question for the author, Garett Jones, who is kind or foolish enough to engage the commentators here:

What is your impression of how IQ is measured in Africa? Apparently (from another commentator here) it is not measured but inferred from socio-economic data (interpolation). If true, then IQ is a circular metric to development, and in fact adds no additional information.

In short, if the above is true, your entire book for developing countries is based on a foundation of sand, and bogus. Your entire life's work lies in ruins at your feet. Have a nice day.

I have a section on that in Chapter 2: I discuss the well-known Jelte Wicherts et al. set of papers on estimated average IQ in some sub-Saharan African nations. The claims you are reporting are entirely incorrect: Wicherts, a critic of Lynn, uses many studies of Ravens IQ and other IQ tests, throwing out studies he and his coauthors find unrepresentative or otherwise problematic.

Another plea for responsible government. If only education and public health officials would do things that benefit their populations! How wonderful it would be.

What if the whole basis of societal stability from the point of view of the elites is to keep people stupid and poor, for the simple reason that an educated and enlightened population would hang them from the lamp posts?

I think the causation is backwards. It isn't intelligence that keeps someone like Lois Lerner out of a position of influence. It isn't intelligence that keeps someone like the Peronists far away from any lever of power. It is traditions of dull plodding competence.

I think it comes down to cultural norms on how power is exercised. An enlightened education reformer putting teachers in every village where the teachers use the position of influence not to enlighten but to self aggrandize. That isn't iq, in fact the smarter the more destructive and dangerous.

The people who engineered the killing fields were highly educated, trained by the brightest minds of Europe. If only they had been a little less capable.

"What if the whole basis of societal stability from the point of view of the elites is to keep people stupid and poor, for the simple reason that an educated and enlightened population would hang them from the lamp posts?"

-As the Chinese in the PRC and Singapore must surely be doing.

"The people who engineered the killing fields were highly educated, trained by the brightest minds of Europe."

-Not really. Stalin was pretty smart for a Georgian, though.

Actually, it isn't the questions, but the conclusion. The hypothesis is interesting, a correlation where the causation attracts investigation.

But why do economists come off thinking that their tenuous conclusions require some kind of policy suggestions? You barely understand the issues, where does the hubris come from that makes you think that you have an answer?

A friend, retired physicist/meteorologist told me the other day about a paper he wrote about the physics of light and water. A complicated piece of math, a bit of understanding that added to the base of knowledge that may or may not have ended up being used in some application. More than likely it was the beginning of someone else's further investigation.

And in places where they have already made the mistake of adding iodine to salt or iron to flour, and the IQs are reasonably high because of genetics, and the populace aware of its history and its ancient rights and privileges, you can have the same effect by indiscriminately importing adult third worlders and their extended families. Ever heard of Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi?

I've never heard of that guy but what an awesome Pynchonian name!

The most effective way to immediately raise IQs is modafinil supplementation to those below average. If the authors correct that IQ has strong externalities, than modafinil should be heavily subsidized and promoted by the state.



Very interesting. Modafinil is much more effective at improving certain cognitive functions for low-IQ than high-IQ. Totally anecdotal but it agrees with my experience in not noticing much effect from taking modafinil!

Patience, cooperation and memory are all good things but I'm not sure they absolutely lead to a better world for others. Is there some data that tests that claim?

Would a list of the world's most developed states (human development, as well as economic) suffice?

What is the identification strategy? Just multiple regression? IQ is obviously endogenous....

"IQ is obviously endogenous…."

Really? I thought the great debate was on how much of IQ was environmental and how much was genetic? Are saying that it's 100% genetic. That education, for example, has no effect on it?

I thought the big mystery was "what are the non-genetic factors," because after you remove the large genetic effect you're left with things we don't understand.

Adoption and twin studies do show that, whatever it is, it's not education, parenting, lead or other household environmental factors, peer group, etc. It's not anything associated with the place and people you grow up with that's common to other children in your house. So whatever it is, it's weird and very idiosyncratic. Maybe it's some butterfly effect; maybe it's very rare toxins; maybe it's the timing of illness with respect to development. But it's not how nice your school is, because we can rule that out.

When people say IQ has a genetic and an environmental component they usually fail to recognise that "environment" is actually "non-shared" environment. Very large scale twin studies suggest that shared environment (how much money parents have, school quality, teacher quality, social class etc, any within family factors) have close to zero effect. Thus improving the environments (in the normal usage) of children will not alter IQ scores.

But they do affect PISA scores?

"Findings from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggest that systems prioritising higher teacher salaries over smaller classes tend to perform better, which confirms research showing that raising teacher quality is a more effective measure to improve student outcomes."


I mean, if you teach a child french for a year and then administer a french test, they'll do better than a child that studied math all else equal.

But you haven't made them smarter.

How important is the emphasis on IQ over PISA? If you want to improve national prospects does either work as well?

If anyone is comfortable being a high IQ, low PISA country, I would worry that was rationalization.

"suggest that systems prioritising higher teacher salaries over smaller classes tend to perform better"

-Repeat after me: correlation is not causation. Correlation is not causation. Correlation is not causation.

"If anyone is comfortable being a high IQ, low PISA country, I would worry that was rationalization."


"I thought the big mystery was “what are the non-genetic factors,” because after you remove the large genetic effect you’re left with things we don’t understand."

There are still plenty of people who insist there is no large genetic effect.

While that's true, those people either have poor genetics or something odd about their non-shared environment.

They may have had great schools. We know those don't help.

Largely well-documented microfoundations; I discuss in greater detail elsewhere on this page.

I read Tyler's glowing summary... and then I notice the author is a professor at George Mason.

IQ increases co-operation?

GMU is the perfect place for studying IQ.

Since the collective intelligence of a nation is so important, doesn't this suggest that a developed nation should select immigrants on the basis of intelligence? The only large developed nation doing this appears to be Australia.

Don't many give points for college degrees, as a proxy?

I think this is fairly widespread, with the US's policy being an exception.

We're the ones with the poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. At some point you have to accept that's the kind of country we have. There are many things that make the US in my opinion the best country on earth. YMMV on whether relatively open borders are one of those things.

We haven't been that kind of country for over a century. And with the adoption of the welfare state starting in the 1930's, we can't afford open low skilled immigration.

It's maps, not chaps.

Easy to look like a genius when you live in an Asian deep water port (HK Singapore, coastal China) and an idiot when you are land locked (Africa, Central Asia, flyover country)

Regarding negotiating take your nose out of the books, fly to Cambodia, and watch the wealth redistribution from gullible westerner to brilliant tuk tuk driver.

Do appreciate the courage to start new convo but it's just fuel for technocrats to meddle.

The answer is Caplan's: smash the welfare state and open the borders.

The answer to the problem of Western civilization you mean?

I am curious as to how people develop theories like these. Deliberate head in the sand and wishful thinking? I mean it's not ridiculous on its face but there is a literature on this stuff and it's not in your favor.

"The answer is Caplan’s: smash the welfare state and open the borders."

Certainly reducing the welfare state would make low skilled immigration far less costly. However, "open the borders", implies no barriers to immigration. It would seem pretty likely that if the US followed that policy we would have 10+ million immigrants per year, most of them low skilled. It would also seem likely that while GDP would rise, GDP per capita would fall. I don't think I want to support a policy that directly leads to a lower quality of life for the average inhabitant.

Isn't that throwing the baby out with the bath water?

It's like amputating an obese person's legs to preempt varicose veins. Or banning opioids from ERs to stymie druggies.

Well no, not really.

"Isn’t that throwing the baby out with the bath water?"

That assumes I'm giving up something. Restricting low skilled immigration doesn't cause me and/or most American's a direct loss. We haven't lost an existing baby, we just didn't gain a new one.

Right, but cutting welfare does.

Wouldn't it be better to attempt to address cooperation and trust head on?
Consider Barbados, probably greatly out performs it's average IQ even as North Korea under performs. I think technology could make natural trust and cooperativeness less important.

I just want to thank Prof. Jones for taking the time to answer so many comments, including the snarky ones. This is a topic of huge importance and it's easy to step on toes. I'm glad someone is undertaking this work.

Thanks! Glad to clarify a bit....

My thoughts exactly. When I saw this post yesterday there were 4-5 comments, and now a day later there are 200+, about a dozen of which come from G.Jones himself. His bravery makes me more likely to buy the book. I think he will need that tough skin if the book becomes a hit, and he has to go on the TV and deal with TV-level questions like "But hasn't the very notion of an 'IQ test' long since been discredited/disproved/debunked?"

This sounds like the kind of messy, complex, causal problem that's crying out for an application of something like Judea Pearl's DAG framework to tease out the causal structure.

The author Garett Jones on immigration:

"I would emphasize a different conclusion: That the low-IQ immigrants will tend to worsen the institutions of the higher-IQ countries they move to. Low IQ immigrants will, to some degree, tend to make the country they move to more like the country they came from."

What an evil, evil man.

He may be a 2nd rate macroeconomist but evil?

This sentence leaps out at me:

And if education researchers and public health officials can find reliable ways to raise national test scores

The real hope is missing: geneticists who are developing CRISPR gene editing technology.

Though micronutrient food fortification and vaccines would help in some really poor countries.

Comments for this post are closed