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 Russian Reaction Blog / PISATeasers

From Turkey’s PISA 2015 National Report:







In 2015, Richard Lynn and coauthors did one of their standard national IQ analyses on Turkey (based on the results of PISA 2012).


There are seven points of interest in the results. First, the total PISA scores adopted as IQs were significantly positively correlated with per capita income (r = .81), higher educational graduation rate (r = .63) and with educational achievement measured by the YGS examination (r = .87), and significantly negatively correlated with total fertility rate (r = −.89), the infant mortality rate (r = −.80) and the percentage of Kurds (r = −.87).

If Europe’s (and Russia’s) problems with low-IQ, high-fertility minorities with a chip on their shoulder seem bad, Turkey’s are arguably far worse.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: IQ, PISA, Turkey 


Well, apart from the Gulf states – thanks in large part to coming from such a low base that even subcontinental coolies are an improvement over the natives.

Otherwise, the cognitive impact of immigration – at least as proxied by the differences in performance on the PISA tests between the national average, which includes immigrant children, versus only native children – is almost entirely negative for its supposed beneficiaries across the entire world.

Even those few countries with expressly “cognitively elitist” immigration policies see only the most modest of benefits: Singapore: +0.7; Canada: -0.1; Australia: -0.2.

Otherwise, the only countries not to be significantly affected are those which see little immigration in general, such as Japan and Korea. So perhaps the best way of “winning” the game to attract quality immigrants is to avoid playing it in the first place.

Western Europe is a complete disaster zone, getting a harder cognitive hit even though the immigrant share of their population is considerably smaller than the US, where they constitute almost a quarter of the PISA-taking population. The German national average takes an astounding 2.4 IQ point hit due to immigrants. Moreover, there is no full convergence between first and second generation immigrants. Although one can hope the children of all those Syrian “doctors and engineers” will go on to become productive and loyal citizens, past experience suggests that they will merely bolster the sullen ranks of a permanent, growing, ethnically distinct, and highly criminalized underclass.

The situation in the US is actually considerably better than in Europe – the low-IQ Central Americans, who are not sending their best, are counterbalanced by the millions of talented East Asians, Indians, and other intelligent and highly motivated people who still want to make America their home. Thanks to that the world’s biggest immigrant nation only loses 1.3 IQ points due to all the newcomers. Donald Trump is promising a big beautiful wall to stem the rising tide of color from the south, but even if he fails to come through, at least the mestizos have better tempers and aren’t wont to blow up like the Mohammedans. The choice between Eurabian dhimmitude or fusing with La Raza Cosmica isn’t exactly hard.

Russia only loses 0.4 IQ points due to immigration, which sounds surprising low, given that Central Asia appears to be a cognitive black hole – Kyrgyzstan, by far not the worst state in the region, came dead last in PISA 2012, and Lynn and Grigoriev have estimated the IQs of Kazakhs and Uzbeks in Kazakhstan to lie in the 80s (very comparable to the chasm between European America and Central America).

I suspect this is down to the following three big factors.

First, for all the nationalist rhetoric, in comparative terms the demographic inflow into Russia from the “Global South” is still rather modest; (official) annual immigration runs at about 300,000 souls per year, and a big part of that now accrues to Ukraine (in contrast, about 500,000 people immigrate to the UK every year, despite its population being more than twice lower than Russia’s). This is backed up by the PISA 2015 statistics, according to which only 7% of the Russian schoolchildren who sat the test have an immigrant background, versus 17% in both the UK and Germany, and 23% in the US.

Second, I assume that the children of the ethnic Russians who repatriated to Russia in the 1990s – in absolute numbers, they would still easily outnumber the Central Asians and Caucasians who came in the 2000s – are also counted as immigrants, and thus “dilute” the negative influence of the Uzbeks and Tajiks. Finally, it is also quite likely that the Central Asian “immigrant” Russians are brighter than the average Russian who never left: First, it was typically (genuine) doctors, engineers, and other specialists who were sent to develop Central Asia under the Soviet Union, and second, getting out of the place after the Soviet collapse was kind of an IQ test of its own. Both of these points may have served to artificially raise the quality of statistically-defined immigrants to Russia and to thus dilute the size of its hit on Russian national IQ.

The UK doesn’t do too badly – only a 0.9 IQ point hit – because the Anjem Choudarys are partially canceled out by talented and ambitious Europeans. Many of the finance and technological firms in the City of London are majority staffed by talented foreigners. There are 200,000 French citizens in London.

Given the strong dependence between national IQ and economic prosperity, the globalist open borders project presents a serious challenge to the long-term viability of the First World cognitive engines that drive the vast bulk of technological progress – progress that is already threatened by the dysgenic trends embedded in post-Malthusian society and the banal fact that problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you ascend the technological ladder. This is not to even mention the risk of “institutional contagion” from newcomers who are culturally and perhaps biologically incompatible with that unique blend of individualism and commitment to the commonweal that facilitated the rise of European civilization.

As the neoreactionaries have argued, to cultivate a garden, you first need to build a wall. We needed to have started building it yesterday, but late is better than never.

Sources: OECD PISA Data Explorer; PISA 2015 Results (Volume I) Excellence and Equity in Education.


Countries IQ Change
1 Qatar 6.35
2 United Arab Emirates 6.22
3 Macao (China) 1.41
4 Singapore 0.73
5 Kazakhstan -0.02
6 Romania -0.03
7 Hungary -0.06
8 Korea -0.07
9 Canada -0.09
10 Chinese Taipei -0.09
11 Montenegro -0.11
12 Viet Nam -0.12
13 Japan -0.12
14 Australia -0.15
15 Argentina -0.15
16 Poland -0.16
17 Algeria -0.19
18 Peru -0.20
19 Uruguay -0.23
20 Turkey -0.26
21 Latvia -0.26
22 Indonesia -0.27
23 Colombia -0.28
24 Kosovo -0.28
25 Lithuania -0.30
26 Czechia -0.31
27 Chile -0.31
28 Thailand -0.31
29 Moldova -0.31
30 Mexico -0.31
31 Malaysia -0.33
32 Cyprus -0.33
33 Portugal -0.33
34 Russia -0.38
35 Costa Rica -0.43
36 Ireland -0.44
37 B-S-J-G (China) -0.44
38 Jordan -0.48
39 Georgia -0.50
40 Malta -0.52
41 New Zealand -0.55
42 Croatia -0.56
43 Brazil -0.56
44 Finland -0.57
45 Tunisia -0.59
46 Estonia -0.62
47 FYROM -0.63
48 Dominican Republic -0.64
49 Bulgaria -0.68
50 Slovak Republic -0.69
51 Iceland -0.70
52 Italy -0.74
53 Hong Kong (China) -0.77
54 Israel -0.87
55 United Kingdom -0.88
56 Slovenia -0.90
57 Spain -0.92
58 Greece -0.98
59 Lebanon -1.03
60 Trinidad and Tobago -1.10
61 Netherlands -1.15
62 Norway -1.17
63 Denmark -1.17
64 United States -1.29
65 France -1.54
66 Sweden -2.00
67 Belgium -2.05
68 Austria -2.18
69 Germany -2.40
70 Switzerland -2.87
71 Luxembourg -3.21
Average -0.54
OECD average -0.92

PS. A list of native IQs converted from PISA according to calculations by commenter “m”:


• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Cognitive Elitism, Immigration, PISA 

The commenter “m” did some calculations to work out the relative performance of different countries in PISA vs. TIMSS, and in Math vs. Science.


m writes:

Dimension 1 is overall performance across all 4 (PISA Math, PISA Science, TIMMS Math, TIMMS science). Everything goes up with this dimension. Highest performers: Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan. Weakest performers: Turkey, UAE, Malta.

Dimension 2 separates stronger performers on TIMMS vs PISA: strongest performers on TIMMS relative to PISA are in order: Turkey, Korea, Russia, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, while strongest performers on PISA relative to TIMMS are: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Norway, Italy. The five most balanced countries in the tradeoff are roughly: Slovenia, England, Hong Kong, Japan, USA.

Overperformance in TIMSS relative to PISA can arguably be used as a proxy for schooling quality, since it’s more dependent on academic/curricular skills than on raw intelligence. I am not surprised by the good figures for Korea, Russia, and to a lesser extent, the rest of East Asia and the post-Communist world. However, the UAE and Turkey are surprising.

Dimension 3 separates out Science nations vs Math nations: Most heavily Science vs Math: Slovenia, England, USA, New Zealand, Turkey and most heavily Math vs Science: Hong Kong, Malta, Korea, Italy, Norway.

As much as including TIMMS might be a worse proxy of “IQ” than just PISA, I have included in the above graphic a measure of using the PC1 overall performance score to convert to IQ, based on the assumption that England is 100 and Japan 104.3 as in your PISA conversion. There’s a bit of swing, not too much, compared to PISA alone.

m then extended his analysis to encompass Reading, which is unsurprisingly “less correlated with the other measures”:


as well as to the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills:



Singapore’s the biggest relative loser when the skills measure is rolled in as well, with the least advantage on PIAAC skills relative to TIMMS / PISA. Most other countries gain compared to the other PCA, as they are more advantaged relative to England and the East Asians on young people’s life skills than they are on young people’s education measures.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: PISA, Psychometrics, Statistics 





There were problems with data collection in Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia, so their results must be treated with caution.

Furthermore: “Because the results of Kazakhstan in 2015 are based only on multiple-choice items, they cannot be reliably compared to the results of other countries, nor to Kazakhstan’s results in previous assessments” (pp. 81 of the report).

Data for China was drawn from four provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Since the first three of these are known to be cognitive clusters, they are not perfectly representative of China. For further discussion go here: PISA 2015 Released: China Disappoints.


Country Math Reading Science Mean “IQ”
Singapore 564 535 556 551.7 107.8
Hong Kong (China) 548 527 523 532.7 104.9
Japan 532 516 538 528.7 104.3
Macao (China) 544 509 529 527.3 104.1
Estonia 520 519 534 524.3 103.7
Canada 516 527 528 523.7 103.6
Chinese Taipei 542 497 532 523.7 103.6
Finland 511 526 531 522.7 103.4
Korea 524 517 516 519.0 102.9
B-S-J-G (China) 531 494 518 514.3 102.2
Ireland 504 521 503 509.3 101.4
Slovenia 510 505 513 509.3 101.4
Germany 506 509 509 508.0 101.2
Netherlands 512 503 509 508.0 101.2
Switzerland 521 492 506 506.3 101.0
New Zealand 495 509 513 505.7 100.9
Denmark 511 500 502 504.3 100.7
Norway 502 513 498 504.3 100.7
Poland 504 506 501 503.7 100.6
Belgium 507 499 502 502.7 100.4
Australia 494 503 510 502.3 100.4
Viet Nam 495 487 525 502.3 100.4
United Kingdom 492 498 509 499.7 100.0
Portugal 492 498 501 497.0 99.6
France 493 499 495 495.7 99.4
Sweden 494 500 493 495.7 99.4
Austria 497 485 495 492.3 98.9
Russia 494 495 487 492.0 98.8
Spain 486 496 493 491.7 98.8
Czech Republic 492 487 493 490.7 98.6
United States 470 497 496 487.7 98.2
Latvia 482 488 490 486.7 98.0
Italy 490 485 481 485.3 97.8
Luxembourg 486 481 483 483.3 97.5
Iceland 488 482 473 481.0 97.2
Croatia 464 487 475 475.3 96.3
Lithuania 478 472 475 475.0 96.3
Hungary 477 470 477 474.7 96.2
Israel 470 479 467 472.0 95.8
Argentina (CABA) 456 475 475 468.7 95.3
Malta 479 447 465 463.7 94.6
Slovak Republic 475 453 461 463.0 94.5
Greece 454 467 455 458.7 93.8
Kazakhstan 460 427 456 447.7 92.2
Chile 423 459 447 443.0 91.5
Malaysia 446 431 443 440.0 91.0
Bulgaria 441 432 446 439.7 91.0
Cyprus 437 443 433 437.7 90.7
Romania 444 434 435 437.7 90.7
United Arab Emirates 427 434 437 432.7 89.9
Uruguay 418 437 435 430.0 89.5
Turkey 420 428 425 424.3 88.7
Trinidad and Tobago 417 427 425 423.0 88.5
Argentina 409 425 432 422.0 88.3
Moldova 420 416 428 421.3 88.2
Montenegro 418 427 411 418.7 87.8
Mexico 408 423 416 415.7 87.4
Costa Rica 400 427 420 415.7 87.4
Albania 413 405 427 415.0 87.3
Thailand 415 409 421 415.0 87.3
Colombia 390 425 416 410.3 86.6
Qatar 402 402 418 407.3 86.1
Georgia 404 401 411 405.3 85.8
Jordan 380 408 409 399.0 84.9
Indonesia 386 397 403 395.3 84.3
Brazil 377 407 401 395.0 84.3
Peru 387 398 397 394.0 84.1
Lebanon 396 347 386 376.3 81.5
Tunisia 367 361 386 371.3 80.7
FYROM 371 352 384 369.0 80.4
Kosovo 362 347 378 362.3 79.4
Algeria 360 350 376 362.0 79.3
Dominican Republic 328 358 332 339.3 75.9
OECD Average 490 493 493 492.0 98.8
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Map, PISA, Psychometrics 

Here is the download link:


First Impressions

(1) China B-S-J-G (Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong) has a PISA-equivalent national IQ of 102. This is actually worse than the IQ=103 leaked 2009 results based on 12 provinces, which I posted about a few years ago. Even more curiously, Beijing, Shanghai, and Jiangsu all constitute three of the top five Chinese provinces based on other IQ tests (original), with Guangdong in 7th place; the provinces China uses for PISA are still evidently selected for their likelihood of doing very well. Furthermore, coverage was an unimpressive 64% of the population.

UPDATE: A better source cited by commenter Bobbi based on Raven tests shows Guangdong getting 2 IQ points less than the Chinese average, so this would partially cancel out the inclusion of three otherwise cognitive elite provinces.

(2) Vietnam gets a national IQ of 100, although at 49% based on even smaller coverage than China’s. This, too, was a decline from PISA 2012, when they got around 102. Korea also dropped substantially from 106 in 2012 to 103 this round. All in all – a bad beat for “Team East Asia.”

(3) Russia improved significantly, which went from 96 in 2009 to 97 in 2012 and 99 this year – and this is with 95% coverage. This is likely because the generation that grew up in the 1990s was afflicted by the consequences of the Soviet collapse and shock therapy, which included a near halving of meat consumption and an alcoholism epidemic (education spending also fell, but performance on these tests seems to be pretty inelastic to this factor). But the 2015 PISA cohort was born around 2000, when living standards began to recover along with nutritional diversity and all kinds of other biodemographic indicators. Note that I did expect this to happen: “… in the next decade I expect the Flynn Effect to kick off in Russia’s favor, raising its average IQ levels to their theoretical peak of 100 by the 2020′s.

(4) Poland does not repeat its anomalously good IQ=103 results from 2012, converging down to a still respectable 101.

(5) The US modestly improves to 98.

(6) A major improvement for Argentina, which raised its IQ to 95 by an amazing 10 IQ points. This improvement is so big that questions have to be asked as to how exactly they managed it. It wasn’t because they dropped their commendable habit, first noticed by Steve Sailer, of rounding up their dimmest 15 year olds to take the PISA tests (unlike Mexico, or Vietnam); to the contrary, they continued going well beyond the call of duty, achieving 104% coverage – the highest of any country.

UPDATE: From Sailer’s thread, Gaucho de la Pampa comments:

1) Argentina no longer means Argentina, it’s just the city of Buenos Aires (CABA – Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires) . The results for the rest of the country were invalidated because of cheating:

2) It’s not about rounding up missing schoolchildren, if that many went missing from taking the test the results would be annulled as they were in Argentina, rather in some countries vast numbers of 15 year olds don’t attend school and PISA is a test designed for those attending school.

3) The glass half full interpretation is that as Mexico’s share of 15 year olds that attend school has increased its scores have remained roughly static (though obviously crappy)

LOL, well that explains everything. Good job Argentina!

(7) At the very bottom of the list, the Dominican Republic has a PISA-equivalent IQ of 76, which is roughly equivalent to that of India (which, incidentally, dropped out of PISA 2015, possibly on account of doing so badly in the last assessment). Lynn estimates it at 82. According to an analysis by Jason Malloy, Cuba gets an average of 90 on Raven’s tests, and 105-109 (!) from a couple of UNESCO comparative regional tests. So it’s probably safe to say that Cuba is cognitively better off than the Dominican Republic, which makes its decline from double its income level in the 1950s to 2/3 of it today all the more attributable to central planning.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: China, PISA, Psychometrics, Russia 

I had been meaning to post about this for a long time. Better late than never, I suppose.

The TIMSS and PIRLS are international assessments of academic ability in math, science and literacy that are conducted once every four years. They are similar to the PISA tests, although the latter are less purely academically focused and more a test of pure IQ.

Here are the results of TIMSS/PIRLS (h/t North Asian). And here are the results of PISA from 2009 for comparison.

As can be expected, they are highly correlated (r > 0.8 to be precise). This however makes the few differences all the more interesting. The gap between the East Asian countries and European countries, though substantial in PISA, is significantly greater in TIMSS/PIRLS. And most strikingly, both Russia and Israel go from being laggards in the OECD group to being at the forefront of the class.

Math (PISA) Math (TIMSS)
Korea 539 613
Sweden 494 484
Russia 468 539
Israel 447 516

From performing more poorly than Turkey in the PISA reading test, Russia soars to take second global position in the PIRLS.

Reading (PISA) Reading (PIRLS)
HK 533 571
Sweden 497 542
Russia 459 568
Israel 474 541

Meanwhile, some European countries, especially Sweden and Norway, plummet quite substantially.

What explains all this?

There are two possibilities. First, the TIMSS/PIRLS tests may have poorer samples than the PISA. For instance, we know from the latter that Moscow has a 10-point IQ lead over the rest of the country. If Muscovite pupils are over-sampled, then it’s quite feasible for the consequent result to be closer to say Hong Kong or Korea than to Greece or Turkey.

However, a second possibility is that the PISA-TIMSS/PIRLS gap is a proxy for differences in the quality of educational systems. It is more feasible to prepare for the TIMSS/PIRLS than it is for PISA, which is closer to an IQ test and is, as such, more difficult to improve through policy interventions. It is nowadays fashionable to lambast the ex-Soviet and East Asian school systems for “rote learning,” “stifling creativity,” and whatnot. However, the data shows that under these systems, pupils perform well above the levels they “should” as indicated by their underlying IQ levels. Meanwhile, in places where “creativity” and “self-expression” are given full bloom, where science lessons focus on the evils of plastic bags in between sermons on LGBT appreciation and the progressiveness of Islamic civilization, academic performance is somewhat less than what might expect based on the local students’ apparent IQ levels.

This all makes sense, I suppose. To be truly “creative” you first have to acquire a ton of skills and knowledge via the old method of applied hard work. Without that, “creativity” simply boils down to a sea of PoMo-waffling curmudgeons and MacBook-toting hipsters. And whoever needs that?

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

In one of the recent posts on corruption, commentator AP wrote:

Kids from Moscow are having trouble getting into universities now because entrance, based on exam results, skews the chances of acceptance in favor of those students from corrupt regions where they can buy better results. Moscow is less corrupt than, say, Dagestan so Dagestani students perform much better on entrance exams.

Is this true? Seeing as how the Russian state doesn’t release Unified State Exam (USE) results by region, probably due to PC considerations, at first this assertion might appear to be unanswerable. However, there is a way to get round the problem.

(1) We know the PISA-derived IQ’s of some 43 Russian regions (which account for about 75% of its school-age population).

(2) The Russian government DOES release the the numbers of maximum scores in the USE tests by region. In this post we will consider the data for 2012. Furthermore, we know that at least at the federal level, these results tend to form bell curves.

(3) One of the primary “proofs” of electoral fraud in the Russian elections was the presence of spikes at convenient increments of 5%. In the case of USE fraud, we only have access to data for 100% scores and measuring the fatness of that tail should give us a clue as to its relative magnitude. (While it is possible and even likely that school administrators and regions would take care not to create too many maximum marks on the notoriously hard USE tests, far from everybody will follow said precautions. After all, if many regions didn’t even bother to smoothen the spikes to conceal fraud in the elections, is it realistic to posit that they’d take greater care around trifles like exams?).

(4) We know the number of 16 year old’s per Russian region from the 2010 Census, who would have participated in the 2012 exam season.

(5) We know the normal distribution.

The blue bars below show the number of top-scoring exams per region as a multiple of Russian 18 year olds there with an expected IQ of 130 or more, based on the region’s average PISA scores and a standard deviation of 15. The red bars show the same thing, with the major exception that an average IQ of 96 – that is, the national average – is assumed for ALL Russian regions.


As we can see above, the most suspicious results are mostly from ethnic Russian oblasts such as Stavropol, Kaluga, Rostov, Perm, and Vladimir, with the two big exceptions being Mari El and Chuvashia. To the contrary, Dagestan – the biggest Caucasian Muslim republic – has very few top scores relative to the number of very bright people we can expect to find there relative to most other Russian regions.

Finally, the reason that the red bar is a lot higher than the blue bar in Moscow, and to a lesser extent Saint-Petersburg, probably doesn’t have anything to do with foul play, but with the fact that their average IQ’s are about 106.6 and 102.6, respectively (i.e. considerably higher than the national average of 96). So while they generate a relatively disproportionate number of top USE scores, that is presumably because they attract the bulk of Russia’s most intellectual families (the so-called “cognitive clustering” effect).

Of course one problem is that we don’t have PISA data for all Russian regions. Maybe the Chechens do all the cheating then?

Probably not. Chechnya only had a total of five top scored USE results (for comparison, Moscow had 654 top results). In the graph below I produced results for all Russian regions, but with an unavoidable concession: In the case of those regions with no results from PISA, I had to make do with assuming a regional IQ of 96 (as per the Russian national average).


In so doing, yet another major region of likely fraud crops up: Bryansk. This oblast, along with Vladimir, produces as many top USE results as a percentage of its 18 year old population as does the intellectual capital, Moscow. Kalmykia, Kirov, and Lipetsk also join the list of Russian regions with suspiciously good USE results (probably not entirely coincidentally, Lipetsk and Kalmykia – along with Ingushetia – were the three regions whose USE results raised suspicions to the extent that they were rechecked).

He also makes the comment:

The schools with the top math students in the country stopped winning Olympiads, while private schools with politically connected kids started to win them…

No obvious way to statistically analyze this, but what we can say with some confidence is that there is no major ethnic angle to this:


As we can see above, the Central and North-West regions of Russia, which contain the cognitive hotbeds of the two capitals, massively surpass the number of people from the North Caucasus in the share of “Olympians” (basically students who did really well and get benefits) in the annual university cohort.

This is pretty much what we can expect on the basis of the average IQ differentials between these regions.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)

India backs out of global education test for 15-year-olds.

Indians were put to test for the first time in the last assessment in 2009. On the global stage, they stood second last among 73 countries, only beating Kyrgyzstan on reading, math and science abilities… This time around, sources said India shied away from the assessment as government officials felt our children were not prepared for such a test.

“India didn’t sign up for the PISA 2012 assessment because when countries were asked to sign up for that assessment, India had only signed up for the PISA 2009 assessment, which it carried out with a year later delay in 2010,” said Juliet Evans, who handles communication and administration for the PISA Secretariat. Unlike India, several other countries like Costa Rica, Malaysia, Georgia and the UAE who had carried out the PISA evaluation in 2010 did sign up for the upcoming assessment.

Which of these Soviet leaders does this remind you of?

Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev are all travelling together in a railway carriage. Unexpectedly the train stops. Lenin suggests: “Perhaps, we should call a subbotnik, so that workers and peasants fix the problem.” Stalin puts his head out of the window and shouts, “If the train does not start moving, the driver will be shot!” But the train doesn’t start moving. Khrushchev then shouts, “Let’s take the rails behind the train and use them to construct the tracks in the front”. But it still doesn’t move. Brezhnev then says, “Comrades, Comrades, let’s draw the curtains, turn on the gramophone and pretend we’re moving!”

Anyhow, most countries will continue participating, including some new ones. I am especially looking forwards to seeing how Vietnam performs. It is about ten years behind China, and its genetic IQ level is probably about 5 points lower than China’s. As such, if its IQ comes out to be appreciable lower than 95 (my own estimate is 90-92) then it would be a further blow against Ron Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception (to the Flynn Effect).

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

A few months ago I posted a table and map of Russian IQ’s as derived from regional PISA performance. Those figures are based on Jarkko Hautamäki’s slideshow comparing regional PISA performance in Finland and Russia.

That material is a bit inadequate because, as had been my custom up that point, I was only making IQ estimates based on the Math and Science components of the PISA tests, and avoiding Reading to maintain reverse compatibility with my (now disused, in favor of just IQ) Human Capital Index. In light of some realizations that verbal IQ is no less important than numerical, I have updated the figures to include the verbal component as well. This doesn’t create any radical changes – the overall IQ only drops by 0.3 points – so I reuse the same map.

(Note that the legend on the map isn’t converted to IQ. “PISA scores, mean 500, SD 100, have to be transformed into IQ values, mean 100, SD 15, by adding or subtracting the deviation from the mean in the relationship 100 : 15 = 6,67.”)


There are any numbers of comments one can make, but I will confine myself to the most important ones:

(1) In some regions, margins of error are high, as samples were low. Nonetheless, it is still possible to identify some concrete patterns. The overall estimate is very accurate because the sample was N=5,308 and representatively distributed across the country.

(2) Moscow pupils performed very well, at the level of the highest scoring OECD countries like Finland, Taiwan, and Korea. This is especially impressive considering the significant numbers of immigrants in that city from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, who come from poorly-scoring countries and rarely have good Russian. This is surely the result of a century of attracting Russia’s (the USSR’s) cognitive elite.

(3) St.-Petersburg and Tyumen oblast performed above the OECD average, while a few other regions performed at or only slightly below the OECD average.

(4) Among ethnic Russian republics, Siberian regions performed well, while the Urals and southern regions performed badly.

(5) Performance in ethnic minority republics differs dramatically. Many of the Turkic and Finno-Ugric regions, such as Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Karelia did well; however, Mari El is a big exception. The Buddhist peoples of Asia, such as Chita oblast (now merged into Zabaykalsky Krai) and the Sakha Republic, performed relatively poorly, as did the Muslim North Caucasus region of Dagestan. Chechnya and Ingushetia would probably score around very low – probably in the mid-80′s. We can be pretty confident about that because their unemployment rates are nearly 50% despite tons of federal transfers.

Bear these figures in mind when considering long-term investments into Russia alongside with their business climate, corruption levels, etc.

PISA-derived IQ of Russian regions

The results by each of the 44 Russian regions which participated in PISA are reproduced below:

Moscow 106.6
Saint-Petersburg 102.6
Tyumen oblast 100.6
Novosibirsk 100.0
Chelyabinsk oblast 99.7
Omsk oblast 99.3
Samara oblast 99.2
Vladimir oblast 98.9
Tula oblast 98.6
Karelia 98.1
Tatarstan 98.1
Komi 98.0
Tomsk oblast 97.9
Primorie krai 97.2
Krasnoyarsk 97.1
Chuvashia 97.0
Udmurtia 96.4
Sakhalin oblast 96.4
Saratov oblast 96.0
Tambov oblast 95.9
Moscow oblast 95.6
Volgograd oblast 95.5
Vologda oblast 95.3
Kemerovo oblast 95.3
Altai krai 94.9
Astrakhan oblast 94.8
Ryazan oblast 94.7
Kursk oblast 94.6
Khanty-Mansijsk 94.2
Bashkortostan 93.4
Krasnodar 93.3
Perm krai 93.3
Rostov oblast 93.3
Nizhnij Novgorod 93.1
Voronezh oblast 92.7
Orenburg oblast 92.7
Kaluga oblast 91.7
Sverdlovsk oblast 91.6
Ulyanovsk oblast 91.5
Adygea 91.2
Stavropol 91.0
Mari El 90.1
Dagestan 88.7
Chita oblast 88.5
Sakha (Yakutia) 87.7

Correlation with economic development

Doing the same exercise as I once did with Italy, the exponential correlation between IQ and GDP per capita (adjusted to reflect local prices; 2008) turns out to be R2=0.5262, if we only take into account those regions whose economies aren’t skewed by substantial natural resource sectors.

This is not as good as Italy’s R2=0.7302, but the result is still an amazingly good one in social sciences. In fact in Russia’s case it’s all the more impressive because its economy was for the most part built up under central planning, which isn’t as good as markets at allocating resources efficiently.

Even under a command economy, the principle still holds: Higher average IQ, higher human capital, greater productivity, greater GDP pre capita.

Other data on the Russian average IQ

(1) The PISA-derived IQ is 96.0.

(2) Richard Lynn estimates Russia’s average IQ to be 96.6 in his 2012 book Intelligence: A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences.

(3) Heiner Rinderman estimates it at 97.3 in a 2009 paper.

The two most comprehensive authorities on international IQ’s, as well as the most comprehensive international standardized test, are all in agreement that Russia’s current average IQ is in the 96-98 range.

Other data on Russian regional IQ

(1) Map of average Unified State Exam (USE) scores among Russians admitted to institutions of higher education in 2010.

This is a biased sample because it only measures those Russians who were admitted to a university in 2010. It is not indicative of average regional IQ.

Data from Межвузовское исследование «Успеваемость студентов первого курсавысших учебных заведений России».

(2) Here is the same data by Federal District. They are, in order: Volga; North-West; Siberia; Central; Urals; Far East; North Caucasus.

(3) The share of “Olympians” (basically students who did really well and get benefits) in the annual university cohort. By region from top to bottom: Northern Caucasus; South; Far East; Volga; Urals; Siberia; North-West; Central.

There is nothing surprising about this. The Central Federal District contains Moscow. The North-West Federal District contains Saint-Petersburg, and I also suspect that ethnic Russians from the North-West region also have the highest IQ potential of all Great Russians because of admixture with Finno-Ugrics. (Finns and ethnic Estonians both have very high PISA scores).

(4) Unfortunately, Russia does not release regional average USE scores. It does this on purpose to avoid inciting ethnic enmity. (Basically, some regions – most of them non-Russian ones – systematically cheat and inflate their USE scores).

(However, I do recall visiting a site showing the number of people from each region who scored a 100/100 on USE subjects such as the Russian language, math, etc. It is a very rigorous exam and getting full marks on a subject like math is exceedingly hard; only a few hundred manage to do it every year if memory serves right. As IQ distributions are bell curves, it should be theoretically possible to get some idea of regional IQ’s by looking at the perfect scorers per capita rate. To do this however I will need to locate that site.)

Other EE Nations

The Ukraine didn’t participate in PISA 2009, but extrapolating from its TIMSS scores, its IQ would be around 93.1. Belarus would probably be considerably higher, because (1) they are basically genetically identical to Great Russians and Poles, and (2) they have done economically better than Ukraine since the 1990′s despite keeping much of their economy state-owned.

This section will be updated with info on other countries in the near future.

Slavic Genetic IQ Ceiling

The Slavic genetic ceiling appears to be around 100 based on the Czechs and Poles. The average height of young Russian men is about 175cm compared to 179cm-180cm among the Central-Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks). This discrepancy likely arose from the fact that Russia’s (and Ukraine’s) post-Communist transitions were far more catastrophic than those of the Poles and Czechs, involving a major deterioration in quality of nutrition during the 1990′s when the PISA 2009 cohort was growing up.

Russia’s meat consumption per capita (kg).

Russian nutrition has already returned to First World levels however; for instance, meat , fish, fruit, etc. consumption is now basically the same as in Europe or the US. This means that in the next decade I expect the Flynn Effect to kick off in Russia’s favor, raising its average IQ levels to their theoretical peak of 100 by the 2020′s.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

My post on Indian IQ (max potential is low to mid 90′s) spawned an interesting analysis by commentator rec1man. It is not very well organized but he does have a ton of useful information that deserves to be highlighted. It’s reprinted in full below interspersed with occasional commentary by myself:

Caste Analysis

75% of the Indian population gets affirmative action quota in India and is genetically low IQ.
25% of the Indian population is upper caste and higher IQ and does not get quota.
Most of the upper caste population has Y-DNA = R1A = Russian / Slavic.

AK: The Slavic max. potential IQ appears to be around 100.

In North India there are 3 levels of quota, each quota level corresponding to a different IQ level:
In North India Upper caste > Other Backward Caste > Dalit – Untouchable – Tribal.

In South India, there are 4 levels of quota:
Brahmin > Dravidian Backward Caste > Dravidian Most Backward caste > Dalit-Untouchable-Tribal.

Upper castes and Brahmins dont get quota. In North India, upper castes and Brahmins are genetically the same of Aryan origin. In South India, the only Aryan origin caste is Brahmin.
The others are Dravidian.

5% of the Indian population is of Oriental race and they dont have a high IQ.

Next vegetarianism = Most upper castes, the higher IQ segment is vegetarian.
The lower castes are non-vegetarian and have lower IQ.

AK: This is interesting. I wonder to what extent (if any) Brahmans can improve their intelligence even further by switching to a meat-based diet? I know that among high-caste Indians adherence to vegetarianism is far from universal. I lived with two of them one. That said, being “non-vegetarian” may not mean that much for most Indians, as most are too poor to regularly afford meat anyway.

Jains are a 100% vegetarian merchant caste and they have beaten the Jews in the diamond trade, even in Tel Aviv.

The world chess champion Vish Anand comes from a vegetarian brahmin family.

AK: As I said, Brahmans appear to be the Jews of India. The most famous Soviet/Russian chess champion, Kasparov, is an Armenian Jew. Actually more than half of the Soviet chess champions were Jews. The most prominent exception was Anatoly Karpov.

In India, a non-vegetarian person is likely a low IQ affirmative action caste
You can check a persons caste rank by simply asking whether they are vegetarian, which implies higher caste

In the Indian Manhattan project team of 18, of which 15 were brahmin and 3 merchants.

AK: Thanks for confirming. :) “(I cannot find the source but I recall reading that almost all members of India’s version of the Manhattan Project were composed of Brahmins).”

Each Indian diaspora is different and has a different caste blend and a different IQ
The lowest level IQ diaspora is the agricultural laborer , 50% Shudra, 50% untouchable
This forms about 95% of the Indian population in South Africa, Fiji, Malaysia, Trinidad, Guyana etc

The Patels and Sikhs are Upper-Shudra / Vaishya and this is 80% of the diaspora in UK
In UK, they outperform whites academically and per Lynn , in the 2nd generation, measured and IQ of 97.

In the USA, 60% of the Indian diaspora is upper caste, and 40% from middle-level castes like Patels and Sikhs.

AK: The mean IQ of Indian immigrants to the US is 112.

Qatar School Rankings

Qatar School Ranking, top 30 schools out of 153

Mean PISA = 500 = IQ 100
SD PISA = 100 = IQ 15

Science, Math, Reading scores

For comparison Shanghai = 575, 600, 566 = 112 IQ

1. Al-Khor Indian Stream, ( GEMS ) = 566, 592, 604 = 113 IQ = Indian Hindu technicians and Engineers of NGL
2. The International School of Choueifat ( SABIS ) = 554, 562, 565 = 109 IQ = Lebanese Xtian
3. Doha College Private ( British Embassy ) = 572, 553, 563 = 109 IQ = UK
4. DPS Modern Indian School ( Delhi Public School Society ) = 552, 538, 563 = 107 IQ = Indian Hindu
5. Qatar Academy ( US educators ) = 540, 547, 562 = 107 IQ
6. American School of Doha, ( US Embassy ) = 553, 546, 559 = 108 IQ
7. Park House English ( UK ) = 568, 528, 552 = 107 IQ
8. Birla Public School = 586, 539, 549 = 108 IQ = Indian Hindu
9. Qatar Intl Private School ( UK ) = 539, 529, 540 = 105 IQ
10. Al Bayan Girls = 481, 464, 516 = Muslim Arab = 98 IQ
11. Cambridge Intl Private School = 531, 484, 514 = 101 IQ
12. Doha Modern Indian School ( Jai Gopal Jindal ) = 554, 525, 514 = 104 IQ = Indian Hindu
13. Al-Khor British Stream ( GEMS ) = 507, 505, 503 = 102 IQ
14. Dukhan English School ( UK ) = 529, 501, 500 = 102 IQ
15. Debakey High School for Health ( USA ) = 492, 467, 493 = 98 IQ
16. Qatar Canadian School = 451, 456, 491 = 95 IQ
17. MES Indian School ( Muslim Education Society ) = 484, 469, 490 = 97 IQ = Indian Muslim
18. Ideal Indian School Girls, ( Muslim ) = 481, 450, 489 = 96 IQ = Indian Muslim
19. Sudanese School = 463, 411, 488 = 93 IQ , remarkably high for black-arab mullatos
20. Al Arqam = 454, 451, 484 = 95 IQ
21. The Gulf English = 468, 448, 482 = 95 IQ
22. Philipine School = 466, 461, 480 = 96 IQ
23. Jordanian School = 446, 422, 472 = 92 IQ
24. Tunisian School = 459, 436, 463 = 93 IQ
25. Lebanese School ( Muslim ) = 444, 501, 463 = 96 IQ
26. Middle East Intl = 484, 452, 461 = 95 IQ
27. Al Andalus = 446, 397, 454 = 90 IQ
28. Ideal Indian School, boys ( Muslim ) = 462, 465, 453 = 94 IQ = Indian Muslim
29. Egyptian School = 463, 435, 434 = 92 IQ
30. American Academy = 462, 434, 434 = 92 IQ

Qatar, 153 school average = 379, 368, 372 = 81 IQ

School -1 and School-13 are both identical, run by GEMS, and solely for children of
employees of NGL

School-1 has Hindu students and School-13 has white students from UK
and the Hindu students are ahead of white students by nearly 1 SD

Indian muslims significantly lag behind Indian Hindus

California performance

In the California 2012 National Merit list, there were 184 Indian winners of which

Brahmin = 112
North Indian Aryan Upper castes = 40
Dravidian Upper castes = 25
Patels ( middle ranking ) = 3
Sikhs ( middle ranking ) = 4

In the US diaspora, Sikhs and Patels despite being 40% of the diaspora, win just 4%.
In the UK, these same Patels and Sikhs are 80% of the Indian diaspora and easily outperform whites academically.

The above data, also shows that sampling has to be very accurate to reflect the various caste IQs.

Future Indian IQ = 93

Calculating Average Indian IQ from PISA

TN raw math PISA score = 351
TN implied IQ = 100 – 1.5 x 15 = 78

HP raw math score = 338
HP implied IQ = 100 – 1.62 x 15 = 76

Indian Avg IQ based on raw PISA = 77

AK: Why only Math, and not also Reading and Science? (including them would bring down average IQ to 75.4).

Next step is to remove the bias caused by the PISA sample having 75% bilingual kids (Tibetan kids facing Hindi PISA exam and Telegu kids facing Tamil PISA exam).

TN mono-lingual = 378
Implied IQ = 500 – 1.22 x 15 = 82

HP mono-lingual = 401
Implied IQ = 500 – 15 = 85

AK: Fair enough – though this adjustment is needed not just in India.

Next there is a 40 point difference between scores for ‘Village’ and scores for ‘Large city’. In HP and TN, the village category is over-represented by a factor of 4. Even worse, in HP, City and Large City are entirely removed from the survey sample.

So adding an urban correction of 20 (half the village-large city difference).

TN semi-urbanised mono-lingual = 378 + 20 = 398
Implied IQ = 85

HP semi-urbanised mono-lingual = 401 + 20 = 421
Implied IQ = 100 – 0.79 x 15 = 88

Current Indian IQ = 86

Next we look to the future as malnutrition is removed. The only Indian kids who go to govt school is for the mid-day meal; if they are not starving they go to private school.

Private schools score 45 more than govt schools and that’s the future as poverty reduces.

AK: Not necessarily as it is richer (on average more cognitively endowed) Indians who are today sending their children to private schools. Disagree with this adjustment.

HP – future – semi-urbanised- mono-lingual = 401 + 20 + 45 = 466

Implied IQ = 95

TN – future – semi-urbanised – mono-lingual = 378 + 20 + 45 = 443

Implied IQ = 91

Future Indian IQ = 93

Given the huge bias in sampling towards over-representing the lower end IQ, by the poverty pimp NGOs, I am certain that none of the CBSE or Cambridge schools
that serve the top 15% are included in the survey.

And they have an entirely different IQ profile and cause an IQ bulge at the top end.

AK: A plausible estimate, with the IQ bulge at the top bringing up average Indian IQ by another point or two. But crucial flaw as far as I can see is the +45 point (+7 IQ points) adjustment, which assumes that the cognitive potential of private and public schoolchildren is essentially equal. That is very unlikely.


15% of the Indian population is Muslim, who are also highly inbred, and brainwashed in islamic madrasas, which lowers IQ potential. Another 15% is untouchable and another 10% is tribal.

These 3 groups as a whole have an IQ ceiling , even with nutrition of no more than 85, and these are 40% of the population.

The middle 40%, the Patels and Sikhs, based on UK performance, have an IQ ceiling of about 95.

However, Indians do not have unwed mothers, and Patels and Sikhs are thrifty, have the benefits of extended family and caste networks and save a lot and are a lot richer than whites in UK and Canada and USA.Ori

Averaging the lower 80%, gives an IQ ceiling of 90.

Anything beyond 90 IQ average ceiling, is a bonus and that’s due to the top 20%.

Most PISA type surveys are going to catch the bottom 80%.

The top 20% is extremely urbanised and goes to very good quality private schools. The Orissa TIMMS survey, showed that the 95th percentile was comparable to 95th percentile of Norway and Orissa is a very backward state.

On a system wide level, India is going to behave like 90 IQ ceiling.

On cutting level achievements, the top 20% is extremely world competitive.

Jing’s Counter-argument (8/18)

Orissa’s TIMSS 95% percentile compares favourably to Norway’s because Orissa’s is one of India’s higher scoring states and Norway is oddly enough Europe’s lowest by far. Norway’s 95% percentile was 573 (Orissa’s 577) but this is significantly lower than Bulgaria (611), Serbia (618), and Romania (619). To add some more perspective, neighboring Sweden is 614, Lithuania 628, Estonia 645, and Latvia 625. Russia is at 632, America 635 and England 627. To cap it off Hong Kong is at 691, Japan 697, South Korea 715, Singapore 723, and Taiwan tops the charts at a ridiculous 733.

India’s top 5% would not even make the 50% cutoff in any of the east Asian polities.

All data available here.

Rec1man’s Qatar comparisons are even more irrelevant because he is comparing the absolute HIGHEST ranked schools of high sigma Indian professionals in the country against OECD AVERAGES. Pick out the highest ranked school in Shanghai or the 10th for that matter and compare it against them and you will see just how far the gap is.

The data tables are available online for anyone who cares to delve more deeply into them for the 2009 PISA at the following link.

Selecting the two Indian participating states that (QTN and QHP) with the variable ST19Q01 as the student variable compares how well Indian students did based on the language of the test. Indian students who took the test in a language OTHER than the one spoken at home score higher than the ones who took the test in their native language.

By the way, Richwine’s backward digit span test correlated to a 112 IQ for India’s taken from the GSS survey had a sample size of less than 10 if I recall.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

He writes:

These scores are indeed truly remarkable, and completely confirm the apparent pattern of Lynn’s IQ samples, in which desperately poor East Asians tend to score at or above the levels of the most successful and well-educated Western populations… But since the total population is at least well into the hundreds of millions, heavily rural as well as urban, the average PISA score of 520—corresponding to an IQ of 103—cannot be too dissimilar from the overall Chinese figure. And with China’s per capita GDP still only $3,700 and well over half the population still living in rural villages when the tests were conducted, these are absolutely astonishing results… Although opinions may certainly differ, I regard this new evidence as very strong support for my “East Asian Exception” hypothesis.

China isn’t anywhere near as backward as he portrays it.

(1) The urban-rural ratio was essentially 50/50 according to the 2010 Census. Furthermore, rural Chinese don’t really suffer from the absolute destitution common to peasants in Third World countries. They own their own land and it is almost impossible for them to lose it. Malnutrition is now close to non-existent. Slums are now very rare. According to a Gallup poll, Chinese now actually struggle less than Americans to buy food.

(2) Total Chinese meat consumption overtook US meat consumption in 1990, signifying a nutritionally adequate figure (as Americans eat a lot of and perhaps a bit too much meat anyway). Today Chinese meat consumption is half the US level. The PISA 2009 cohort would have been born in 1993, when Chinese nutrition had already essentially converged with the First World.

(3) He uses nominal GDP per capita which is quite meaningless. The PPP level of Chinese GDP per capita is $8,400 and that figure is probably underestimated.

Basically, if we adjust for the fact that in terms of basics (food, education, housing) China is now essentially equivalent to developed countries, it would make sense that its average IQ level is now only about 5 points from its potential maximum.

But really my fundamental problem with the “East Asia Exception” hypothesis is the huge paradox it exposes: Why was it Europe, and not China, that first underwent the Industrial Revolution? And the (initially unrelated) Scientific Revolution, for that matter? If as Ron Unz says the Flynn Effect barely applies to East Asian populations, then what you’d have had five centuries ago is 100mn Chinese, 20% of them urban – with an average IQ of maybe 95; and 100mn Europeans, only 5% of them urban – with an average IQ of 75. Sure Europe had various advantages (as chronicled by Jared Diamond, Kenneth Pomeranz, etc) but surely it couldn’t have trumped the effects of a 1 S.D. IQ advantage? That is why I believe the East Asia Exception to be historically implausible.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

The question of Indian IQ is a big puzzle. Far trickier than China’s IQ which I think I’ve basically figured out (101-102 today; 106-108 genetic ceiling).

The PISA-adjusted IQ of India – as extrapolated from the states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, which are relatively rich and are reputed to have good school systems by Indian standards – is a miserly 75.4; Richard Lynn, in his latest estimates based on an international standardized test from 1970 and a more recent TIMSS study in the states of Rajasthan and Orissa is 82.2. The chart above compiled by Steve Sailer from Lynn’s data on numerous IQ tests also indicates it is the low 80′s. In my opinion the low 80′s figures given by the IQ tests is more accurately reflective of today’s Indian g because PISA is after all an academic test and Indian schools leave a lot to be desired.

Regardless, the differences between Indians, and East Asians and Europeans, are huge. India is in fact at the upper level of sub-Saharan African IQ which typically ranges from 65 to 80. There are lots of factors holding India back: Malnutrition (which is on average perhaps worse than in sub-Saharan Africa), vegetarian diets, poor education system, a moderately high rate of consanguineous marriage. But all that said the sheer size of the gap makes me skeptical that all of it is down to environmental factors alone.

On the other hand the average IQ of Indian immigrants to the US is an Ashkenazi Jewish-like 112. Ramanujan was assessed by G.H. Hardy, no lightweight himself, as the most gifted mathematician of his age. Going back further in time, India has a pretty stunning religious, linguistic, mathematical, and philosophical heritage. Only a continuous stream of very high IQ individuals could have both created and sustained such a heritage.

Another very telling feature of India is the pervasive inequality that has characterized it throughout time. Kenneth Pomeranz notes in his book The Great Divergence on why it was Europe and not China that underwent the Industrial Revolution that Early Modern India had levels of inequality significantly in excess of that of either China or Western Europe. Consider that (1) redistributive wealth mechanisms were virtually non-existent then, (2) that India unlike China or Europe nonetheless still had a lot of unused resources which typically puts a damper on inequality; (3) the always relevant correlation between wealth and IQ. All this implies an “IQ Gini index” considerably greater than in either Europe or China even in the pre-industrial past. And according to Sailer, even today whereas “China focuses on giving the masses a solid basic education that prepares them for manufacturing jobs” India on the other hand “focuses more on giving outstanding university educations to the meritocratic elite.”

Finally, we also know that India remains a heavily caste based society, despite very vigorous government attempts to legislate it away. They don’t tend to intermarry. They eat different foods. And they do appear to differ markedly in IQ. Brahmins occupy a lot of the intellectually demanding positions (I cannot find the source but I recall reading that almost all members of India’s version of the Manhattan Project were composed of Brahmins). A lot of the (super high IQ) US Indian immigrants appear to be Brahmins. Meanwhile Indian immigrants to Britain or those who live as diasporas in sub-Saharan Africans tend to under-perform Anglo whites by about 0.5 S.D. These are the “Patels”, etc were talking about who are mostly Vaishya or Shudra and who constitute the vast bulk of India’s population. If they are typically scoring in the low 90′s and India’s average is in the low 80′s then *that* difference can plausibly be ascribed to the Flynn Effect.

So let’s do the power summary for India:

  • Many cultural achievements (philosophy, religion, literature) that up until the Early Modern period compared respectable with those of European, Near Eastern, and East Asian civilization, but were much less prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Levels of inequality in Early Modern times that were higher than in Western Europe, China, or Japan even though on objective factors (e.g. lower levels of land stress) should have been lower.
  • The caste-based nature of traditional Indian society that the government has been powerless to stamp out.

What I conclude from this is that in terms that would be familiar to Westerners: India is a nation of Gypsies and Jews.

Over the centuries, Brahmins have been selected for intelligence. They were expected to master requisite texts and those who couldn’t handle it dropped away. These selective pressures did not apply to the lower castes who made up the vast majority of the population.

The reason for why India split along caste lines was because of Hinduism and its origins as a religion/ideology to hold society together under the boots of the conquering light-skinned Aryans who brought down the original Harappan civilization (indeed 4 millennia on Bollywood still glamorizes lighter-skinned actors and this is not very controversial within Indian society). These invaders became the Kshatriya military caste, and the Brahmins became their spiritual apologists and enablers. (The Kshatriya were also the one major caste that was allowed to eat meat to build up muscles. Quite logical). The darker skinned aborigines had to continue tilling the soil for their new masters.

Christianity.proclaimed the spiritual inequality of all men. In fact it was a very special religion in that it took a very strict line against within-kin marriages in general. Hence why a caste society or anything resembling it is pretty much impossible under Christianity as long as everyone is considered a fellow Christian. (Whereas caste is inherent to Hinduism). Nonetheless we learn that even a millennium after the Norman invasion of Britain people with Norman surnames such as Darcy, Percy, Baskerville and Mandeville are still on average richer than Anglo-Patels like Smith, Mason and Cooper. Nonetheless British society as Western Europe in general traditionally considered itself as one organic society with only small groups of “service nomads” like Gypsies (peddlers, fortune tellers) and Jews (moneylenders) outside it.

In India basically the entire population appears to be composed of “service nomads” who belong to their own groups and exchange services with other groups. The Vaishya are traders and artisans; The Shudra are farmers; the Kshatriya are warriors; the Brahmins are priests and scholars. Their religion is what binds them together and keeps the whole thing flowing, hence why it is not opposed even by those ostensibly disadvantaged by it. Over several millennia of this caste society operating, in which different castes hardly ever intermarried, you got a plethora of distinct populations that were adapted to their particular divinely-appointed task in life.

In practice this meant a small subsection of Ashkenazi Jewish-like Brahmins with very high IQ’s; and a huge mass of peasants with genetic IQ ceilings somewhere in between those of Europeans and Negroids.

(I would also hypothesize that after the coming of medical modernity this makes for a bad dysgenics situation because Brahmin families will probably have far lower fertility rates than say Shudra, so their share of the Indian population will dwindle; in contrast, homogeneous European and East Asian populations would appear to be more insulated against dysgenic trends because in those societies dysgenics only occurs via lower IQ segments of the population having more kids, while in a place like India – or increasingly multicultural America/Europe – not only lower IQ individuals have more kids but also lower IQ population groups).

So my estimates: (1) India’s current IQ is in the low 80′s; (2) The Flynn effect could yet bring it up to perhaps the low 90′s if India successfully develops (in China the gap is about 5 points but China is of course far richer now and eats far more meat); however, successful development is much harder than in China because starting point IQ’s are far lower. We can expect India to continue growing and gaining on the developed nations but at a pace that will never match China’s; nor, barring technological revolutions (brain-computer interfaces, etc), will it feasibly ever develop to the levels of majority East Asian or European societies.

India will continue benefiting from an extremely intelligent and culturally creative but also very small intellectual upper class of Brahmins. Unfortunately much like Jews they cannot be expected to be all that loyal to the Indian nation (to the extent that an Indian nation exists).

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

As human capital is so important for prosperity, it behoves us to know China’s in detail to assess whether it will continue converging on developed countries. Until recently the best data we had were disparate IQ tests (on the basis of which Richard Lynn’s latest estimate is an IQ of 105.8 in his 2012 book Intelligence: A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences) as well as PISA international standardized test scores from cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, the problem was that they were hardly nationally representative due to the “cognitive clustering” effect. The Chinese did not allow the OECD to publish data for the rest of the country and this understandably raised further questions about the situation in its interior heartlands, although even in 2010 I was already able to report a PISA representative saying that “even in some of the very poor areas you get performance close to the OECD average.”

As regards Chinese intelligence

Happily (via commentator Jing) we learned that the PISA data for Zhejiang province and the China average had been released on the Chinese Internet. I collated this as well as data for Chinese-majority cities outside China in the table below, while also adding in their PISA-converted IQ scores, the scores of just natives (i.e. minus immigrants), percentage of the Han population, and nominal and PPP GDP per capita.

Reading Math Science Average (native) IQ (native IQ) %汉族 GDP/c (n) GDP/c (P)
China* 486 550 524 520 ~ 103.0 ~ 91.6% 5,430 8,442
China: Shanghai 556 600 575 577 589 111.6 113.4 99.0% 12,783 19,874
China: Zhejiang 525 598 567 563 ~ 109.5 ~ 99.2% 9,083 14,121
Hong Kong 533 555 549 546 557 106.9 108.6 93.6% 34,457 49,990
Macau 487 525 511 508 514 101.2 102.1 95.0% 65,550 77,607
Singapore 526 562 542 543 550 106.5 107.5 74.1% 46,241 61,103
Taiwan 495 543 520 519 534 102.9 105.1 98.0% 20,101 37,720

* Twelve provinces including Shanghai, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu totaling 621 schools, 21,003 students. Results have been released for Shanghai, and later on for Zhejiang (59 schools, 1,800 students – of which 80% were township-village schools) and for the 12-province average.

(1) Academic performance, and the IQ for which it is a good proxy, is very high for a developing nation. Presumably, this gap can largely be ascribed to the legacy of initial historical backwardness coupled with Maoist economics.

(2) The average PISA-converted IQ of the 12 provinces surveyed in PISA is 103.0. (I do not know if provincial results were appropriately weighed for population when calculating the 12-province average but probably not). We know the identities of five of the 12 tested provinces (Shanghai, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu). They are all very high-income and developed by Chinese standards. Furthermore, these five provinces – with the exception of Tianjin – all perform well above average according to stats from a Chinese online IQ testing website.

The provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang also have a reputation in China as gaokao powerhouses.

(3) The Chinese average as given by PISA therefore appears to have an upwards bias, as at least a third of the tested provinces – Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing – are at the very top end of the Chinese IQ league charts. As such, the true IQ average for China is likely closer to 101-102.

(4) The very high score of Shanghai (111.6) is surely for the most part a reflection of its long status as a magnet of Chinese cognitive elites. This may well be true for Hong Kong (106.9) too although perhaps to a lesser extent. But the IQ of native Taiwanese is 105.1 even though the Han Chinese there are substantially interbred with lower-IQ aborigines. Singapore (107.5) too drew Chinese cognitive elites, and quite consciously too – their immigration policies were (are) de facto cognitively elitist – but on the other hand, this is counteracted by their large, lower-IQ Malay and Indian minorities. Regardless, one cannot escape the conclusion that with the (unexplained) exception of Macau, all developed Han majority regions have IQ’s in the 105-110 range. Likewise with other East Asians, such as native Koreans (106.6) and native Japanese (105.3). This means that there is a 5-10 point IQ gap between developed East Asian regions and the Chinese average.

(5) The biggest gaps between China and Chinese enclave regions are typically where we can reasonably hypothesize a “cognitive clustering” effect, so minus that the current gap is probably closer to 5 points. This means that China very likely still has the potential to raise its average IQ by c. 5 points via the Flynn Effect.

(6) A side-consequence is that this presents a serious challenge to Ron Unz’s theory of The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences.

As regards Chinese intelligence in global perspective

Below is another table with a list of countries representing a typical sample of the developed countries that China is striving to become; and the emerging nations (BRIC’s and SE Asian) with which China is typically compared.

Reading Math Science Average (native) IQ (native IQ)
Korea 539 546 538 541 544 106.2 106.6
Japan 520 529 539 529 535 104.4 105.3
China 486 550 524 520 ~ 103.0 ~
Germany 497 513 520 510 533 101.5 105.0
United States 500 487 502 496 502 99.5 100.3
Russia 459 468 478 468 477 95.3 96.6
Thailand 421 419 425 422 422 88.3 88.3
Malaysia 414 404 422 413 ~ 87.0 ~
Brazil 412 386 405 401 399 85.2 84.9
Indonesia 402 371 383 385 378 82.8 81.7
India* 327 345 337 336 ~ 75.4 ~

* Average of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.

(1) Assuming that average Chinese IQ is now 101-102:

  • Means that it is approximately equivalent to the German IQ of 101.5 (with the typical East Asian bias towards better numerical and worse verbal scores).
  • As of today, this IQ level is still somewhat below those of other developed East Asian nations be they Korean, Japanese, or Han majority. It is also slightly below the results of Australians, Canadians, native Germans and white Americans; and approximately equal to the results of native Britons and French.
  • It is head and shoulders above other SE Asian “tigers” whose average IQ’s are in the high 80′s (Thailand, Malaysia) or low 80′s (Indonesia).
  • Relative to the BRIC’s, the Chinese average IQ is substantially ahead of Russia (95.3) and greatly ahead of Brazil (85.2). As for India, whose average IQ is 75.4 according to PISA results from two fairly rich provinces, there is simply no comparison whatsoever. As I have indeed pointed out on numerous occasions.

(2) Needless to say this is an extremely good result that practically ensures convergence to developed country levels within a reasonable time frame. This is especially true because as is almost always the case, there exists a positive feedback loop with greater development pushing average Chinese IQ to its genetic “ceiling” of approximately 105-108. That in turn will further raise the capacity of Chinese labor for skills absorption and even greater productivity.

Addendum 8/15: The commentator Jing graciously provided the list of all the 12 Chinese provinces that participated in the PISA 2009 study. They were: Tianjin, Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jilin, Hubei, Hebei, Hainan, Sichuan, Yunnan, Ningxia.

This allowed me to make an interesting conclusion. No matter whether you weigh the provincial IQ scores above by population or not, the difference between the 12 provinces and China on average is only about 0.5 points in favor of the 12 provinces. This means that the PISA sample is actually pretty good – and that China’s PISA-derived IQ is in fact about 102.5 or so.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

In recent days Ron Unz’s article Race, IQ, and Wealth (The American Conservative) has been making the rounds in the HBDsphere. Broadly speaking it argues for the predominance of cultural and environmental factors as opposed to genetic in forming IQ. It is fairly long but it’s also one of the best statements of that position out there, and I highly suggest you go and read it in its entirety (as well as the good discussions it spawned at thanks to hbd* chick, Peter Frost, David Sanders, etc).

(Incidentally, part of the reason it is so good is that it avoids throwing round the racism card in addressing proponents of the genetic-determinist model of IQ, as do all too many mainstream commentators. That is really a kind of trolling, and by and by, will as such no longer be tolerated on this blog as it once was.)

To prove his case Ron Unz takes data from Lynn and Vanhanen, the two foremost compilers of global IQ data (along with Rinderman), and turns it against their own position that national IQ levels – barring a universal Flynn Effect – are essentially fixed: “… I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed. … Given that Lynn and Vanhanen rank as titans of the racial-difference camp, perhaps their ideological opponents, who often come from less quantitative backgrounds, are reluctant even to open the pages of their books, fearful lest the vast quantity of data within prove that the racialist analysis is factually correct after all. Meanwhile, the pro-racialist elements may simply skim over the hundreds of pages of dry and detailed quantitative evidence and skip to the summary text, which claims that the data demonstrate IQ is genetically fixed and determines which nations will be rich and which will be poor.”

In support of his thesis Ron Unz cites the wide dispersion seen in IQ results for European populations, which are genetically close. Many East-Central European societies that scored low during the 1950′s-80′s have since come close to converging with results from Western Europe. Furthermore, South Europeans and East Europeans who migrated to the US in the 1920′s scored in the mid-80′s – a 1 S.D. discrepancy that is about as big as that which continually separates Blacks from whites. I.e., very significant. However, these folks all managed to integrate into American society and now have IQ’s higher than those of longer established (and more rural) groups such as the Germans and Dutch. In particular, he cites a test administered to 3,500 Irish schoolchildren in 1972, which showed an average IQ of just 87. That is almost 1 S.D. lower than the IQ of Irish-Americans, or for that matter, more recent PISA results which now show the Irish to be well within the European cognitive mainstream.

At this point I should perhaps mention that I my conversion to the “dark side” of genetic determinism is fairly recent and that as early as six months ago I would have agreed with Unz’s reasoning in its entirety – that national IQ’s are mainly a product of culture and development levels and such and have little to do with racial difference (see IQ and Industrialism, 2010). Now I still consider these factors play an important role, but NOT the dominant one. Ron Unz’s article serves as an excellent foil to explain why:


(1) It is important to emphasize that Lynn and Vanhanen basically collate a wide variety of tests across space and time that are non-standardized. Some measure verbal ability (which Europeans are good at and generally hasn’t risen much); others measure spatial or mathematical abilities (which East Asians are better at than Europeans, and which was very much influenced by the Flynn Effect throughout the 20th century). Many of their tests suffer from small and/or biased samples – and I imagine this would be especially true of IQ tests conducted in East-Central Europe. That said, the results of these tests cannot be dismissed out of hand, because of their relative consistency.

(2) As regards US data on immigrants’ IQ from the 1920′s, we cannot also exclude the (artificial) effects of poor English language comprehension. Certainly we know that liberal arguments against the validity of IQ tests emphasizes that the tests in that period were linguistically rigged against immigrants and if that is true then it would make sense that their scores were “mismeasured”. Had I been subjected to a verbal IQ test in English in 1995, say, I would have come out as a clinical retard.

(3) That said, the low Irish results from 1972 are indeed puzzling and deserve a detailed response. THAT SAID, before rushing to ascribe to the difference in development levels, we must also take note that Ireland before the 1975 was a very high-emigration country.

Note that Ireland’s population was actually declining until 1960, despite births outnumbering deaths by almost 2:1. More than 1% of the Irish left their country every single year. The schoolchildren of 1972 would have presumably been born for the most part in the 1950′s, not far from the end-point of a (likely dysgenic) process that had been going on uninterruptedly since the Great Famine. While there is no way to know for sure, there is reason to suspect that on average emigrants had higher IQ’s than average, as the act of emigration requires initiative, fore-planning, future time orientation, and other factors usually associated with higher IQ’s. Operating for a century this would have surely had a dysgenic effect, but fortunately on its cessation, the population would get a chance to revert to its natural mean. Coupled with big infusions of Poles and other East Europeans during the 2000′s, and the undeniable but modest boost that great wealth can make to IQ, it is probably not that surprising that in the PISA tests the Irish have converged with the West European mainstream.

Note that according to my estimates derived from PISA/TIMMS and Rinderman’s, even today countries with ultra-high rates of emigration such as Moldova (86/92), Georgia (83/88), Armenia (96/93), and Kyrgyzstan (75/70) also have extremely low IQ results relative to where we would intuitively expect them to be. Armenians are the closest genetic relatives of Ashkenazi Jews, who are (in)famous for being well above average; furthermore, Armenians have typically been more educated than average, and quite a lot of Soviet chess Grandmasters were Armenian or part-Armenian. Moldovans are crudely East Slavs and Romanians, and “should” be somewhere in the low 90′s (although note that both Ukraine and especially Romania have had very substantial emigrations of their own). Georgians are crudely Greeks and Turks, and basically something like a fourth of them left – both during the Soviet era, and especially during the 1990′s. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic and Mongoloid-like people, and as with the Georgians, about a quarter of them have left for greener pastures. Though it should be noted that Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest rates of consanguineous marriage in the world (i.e. inbreeding) and that this is surely a huge additional depressant on their IQ.

In short, PISA data suggests that mass emigration – especially when ongoing for a long time – has a very significant dysgenic effect on IQ. I do not think it unreasonable to posit that this is the reason why 3,500 Irish schoolchildren scored an average of 87 in IQ tests held in 1972.

(4) While I agree with hbd* chick’s observation that the emigration had a significant dysgenic effect on Irish IQ (see above), unlike her I think that it has been almost entirely remedied by now. She argues that Irish PISA scores only managed to converge with those of France because of its flood of lower-IQ immigrants that brought the national average down. The data doesn’t back this up however. Ireland’s native PISA score in 2009 was 503 (national – 497), not really ALL that different from France’s 508 (497), the UK’s 508 (500), Poland’s 503 (501), etc.

(5) Extrapolating from these spatio-temporal discrepancies in IQ among West European populations, Ron Unz extends the exercise to Mexico and Hispanic immigration in general. He notes that among Mexican-Americans born in the US, the average IQ as derived from Wordsum improved from 85 (i.e. Third World) to 95 (i.e. basically just about enough to build a First World society). This is substantially higher than the average for Mexico today which is something like 88 (me) or 85 (Rinderman). This is of course highly encouraging.

Possible problems. First, what kind of Mexicans? There are huge disparities between the northern predominantly European states, which are basically something like Portugal, to the southern predominantly Amerindian states, which look more like India. Think of it like Italy Extreme (where IQ ranges from 103 in the northern states to low-90′s in the south). As I understand it, the older migrations was primarily from the former region; indeed, part of the Mexican-American population is indigenous, having been conquered in the 19th century. But it is a fact today that Hispanic migration is primarily from southern Mexico and Central America. Will they be as successful in converging to the American average like Europeans and the old Mexican-Americans?

Second, read David Sanders’ response at VDARE. Overall Hispanic scores have remained low, typically in the low 90′s (unfortunately, Sanders seems to conflate Mexican-Americans with Hispanics, which is not really accurate at all; but the main point stands). PISA confirmed those figures both in 2006 and 2009. Part of this stagnation is surely due to the continuing influx of poor Hispanics with bad English skills. Nonetheless, I am not sure it is possible that it is still the main reason today. After all, the US Hispanic population is now very big, at around 16.3% of the total population according to the last Census. As such the influence of new arrivals on the overall group average is now surely quite modest.

Main things to take home. First, if Hispanic average is low 90′s and Mexican-American average is 95, then Hispanic non-Mexican average is probably something like 90. Flynn magic and acclimatization to America may raise it to 95, while Mexican-Americans may eke out a few more points. Still, hard to see them catching up to the US White average of 103 anytime soon. Encouragingly, this is not the kind of awning difference that leads to quasi-caste societies like in South Africa, on the other hand, the differences will still be significant and not helped by the fact that Hispanic culture is quite different from mainstream US white culture.

(6) Also as noted by David Sanders you could just as easily use isolated test data to argue that being rich LOWERS your IQ. Because for every Greece and Ireland …

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change Annual GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
East Germany 90 99 +9 $769 (using Czech figures) 11
Greece 88 95 +7 $6047 18
Ireland 87 98 +11 $1191 7

There is a France and an Israel.

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
Israel 97 90 -7 $5276 14
Poland 106 92 -14 $561 10
Portugal 101 88 -13 $1073 8
France 99.5 (average of two studies) 94 -5.5 $9630 17

Lynn and Vanhanen’s data is valid for general conclusions because at the large scale noise is smoothed out, but it is very dangerous to use it to illustrate individual examples. Even today, if you look at the geography of PISA test results in the US – a STANDARDIZED test to boot, unlike the IQ tests compiled by L. & V. – there will still be significant differences even in White results which range from about 96 in West Virginia to 106 in Massachusetts. This is perfectly natural and to be expected because of internal migration and cognitive clustering patterns that have lasted decades and centuries.

(7) “Among the higher performing white American groups are the Irish, the Greeks, the Yugoslavs, and the Italians, while Americans of Dutch extraction are near the bottom for whites, as are oldstock Americans who no longer identify with any European country but are presumably British in main ancestry. Meanwhile, German-Americans are generally at or slightly below the white American average.”

Several things we have to bear in mind: (a) Ultimately modest initial differences (especially once we account for linguistic issues in the 1920′s immigrant tests discussed above); (b) Intermarriage which has been very substantial and smooths out ethnic differences in the urban areas; (c) Unz’s own observation – with which I’m fully agreed as it seems to be universal! – that urban dwellers tend to perform better on IQ tests than rural dwellers all other things being equal (as Marx observed: “Idiocy of rural life”).

(8) I notice that Ron Unz steers clear of the elephant in the room as regards theories of IQ as predominantly a product of culture – US Blacks. Problem is, they are more urban than whites; so can’t use the reasoning in the previous point. And as discussed very extensively in The Bell Curve (Murray & Herrnstein), no, this is not because IQ tests are culturally biased or because Blacks just don’t care about them. US Black IQ’s be they derived from SATS or PISA or other tests pretty much all now consistently show them as being in the high-80′s. The Black White gap shrank slowly until the 1990 but since then progress has stalled or even reversed. The sad but logical conclusion is that their genetic IQ potential as a group is now more or less maxed out. It would be interesting to see how Ron Unz would try to explain this away.

Another element of Lynn’s and Vanhanen’s more recent work (e.g. The Global Curve) that has not been tackled is the remarkably consistent tendency for the exact same racial patterns to reproduce themselves all over the world in different countries and within radically different cultural milieus and across time that feature similar hierarchies in economic success, crime, IQ, etc: East Asians, then Whites, then South-East Asians, Indians, and/or Hispanics; then Blacks. It is hard, very hard indeed, to think of any theory that can account for this that doesn’t lean heavily on genetic determinism.

Despite all these caveats and criticisms, it need be borne in mind that only a pure ideologue would argue that IQ is solely genetically determined. Indeed, the Flynn Effect – mostly composed of better nutrition (we can deduce this partly because it is the poorest performers who tend to make the biggest gains, and that furthermore, the Flynn Effect petered out in White countries at just about the time that their average human heights reached a plateau) and various other things such as familiarity with standardized tests – is very significant, typically adding a massive 15-20 IQ points overall (compare US Blacks with scores in the high-80′s, adjust down to 85 to take into account 20% white admixture, then consider that the Ghanans, Nigerians, etc. among whom Flynn hasn’t had much chance to take root yet, score around 65-70). Also of huge significance is the geography of cognitive clustering which has been discussed here in the context of dysgenic emigration, as well as in the cases of some countries, the culturally-mediated factor of consanguineous marriage (which however takes a long time to fix even disregarding the cultural barriers to dismantling such systems).


In an addendum to the initial article, Ron Unz writes about The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences. He notes that while (Flynn-adjusted) South and East European scores improved form the 88-94 range, this was much less true for the East Asian nations which started off with very high scores even in the 1950′s and 1960′s and only made very marginal improvements to the present day. Ironically, Unz’s explanation for this is primarily genetic and I DISAGREE with it.

The most plausible inference from these decades of accumulated data is that the IQs of East Asian peoples tend to be more robust and insulated against the negative impact of cultural or economic deprivation than those of European groups or various others—a truly remarkable finding. This might be due to cultural factors of some type, or perhaps certain aspects of East Asian spoken or written languages. But a fascinating possibility is that this IQ robustness may have a substantially genetic component. … Over one hundred years ago, The Changing Chinese by A.E. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, provided copious anecdotal evidence indicating greater Chinese resistance to illness and injury and perhaps even an ability to survive on more meager food rations. Certainly these sorts of traits might be expected to have undergone strong selection in a country such as China, whose huge population had lived many centuries at the absolute Malthusian edge of starvation.

Here I would note several things:

(a) While on paper East Asian GDP’s – especially outside Japan – were indeed quite a lot lower than those of Southern and Eastern Europe in the 1950′s and 1960′s, it does not necessarily follow that there was a huge corresponding difference in food availability. Asian agricultural technology was always advanced relative to their actual level of economic development, and their diets were probably better balanced than in the Mediterranean and almost certainly better balanced than in East-Central Europe.

(b) Sampling issues. This requires further investigation, but it is very important to be nationally representative given cognitive clustering. E.g., people are far brighter in Shanghai or Beijing than in Henan.

(c) “For consistency, all these results are drawn directly from Lynn/Vanhanen, and include their Flynn and other IQ adjustments up and down, several of which seemed rather large and arbitrary…” I.e., if the Flynn adjustments seem “rather large”, then logically the earlier IQ results should be lower than otherwise stated; and hence, the gain thanks to the Flynn Effect correspondingly larger.

(d) In a famous book on China by the American missionary Arthur H. Smith, titled “Chinese Characteristics” and published in the 1890′s, he expresses a low opinion of Chinese intellectual acumen at the time. In a chapter tellingly called “Intellectual Turbidity“, he notes that the great mass of Chinese are seemingly incapable of abstract logical reasoning, WHEREAS Chinese scholars – though understandably few in number, considering the country’s underdevelopment – can display impressive intellectual acumen. This makes total sense given what we now know of psychometrics and life in traditional societies. The masses have peasant-like mentalities and are illiterate and malnourished, which translates into very low IQ’s; the scholars, however, are fairly well nourished and literate and urban and high-IQ, and thus can communicate at Smith’s level. However, as there are so few of them, the characteristics of the dull peasant masses predominate at the average national level so the national IQ level is very low. Today however the Chinese IQ is well above 100 however you measure it. This is the Flynn Effect in action over a century, in China as everywhere else.

So, East Asians probably aren’t as much of an Exception as Ron Unz presents them as. Or not an exception at all. Arguably using them to try to prove that Lynn and Vanhanen scored a “game-ending own goal” is kind of an own goal to Unz’s own minimization of the genetic component of IQ.


In conclusion, I think the Flynn Effect DID act on East Asian societies, though it is plausible that it was not to such a high degree as in European societies for cultural, environmental, or genetic reasons. And as with Europeans they have now maxed out their potential (Japan, Korea, Taiwan) or come close to it (China). However US Blacks also seem to have maxed out their potential and at levels very significantly (1 S.D.) below those of both US Whites / Anglo-Germanic Europe and East Asians. Coupled with lots of other evidence this to me convincingly suggests a strong racial component to group average IQ differences.

Mexican-Americans and especially US Hispanics (who still have many immigrants among them) can still make very substantial gains but given the very big gap between them and US Whites, I am skeptical that they will be able to close it it in the future by themselves. That said intermarriage rates between native-born Hispanics and non-Hispanics are quite high so I expect them to gradually blend in with the US population over the next century. Perhaps a more critical difference from prior European immigrants apart from the lower IQ of Amerindian-stock Hispanic immigrants is that they come from or via a nation contiguous with the US. This lack of distance means that they will be better able to maintain their culture within the US, and the US will slowly become a more “Latinized” country although they will not ever feasibly come to exercise a dominant cultural influence.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

There are several ways to influence national mean IQ levels. One is to improve nutrition and education, but vitally important though they are, they suffer from diminishing returns as populations bump up against their genetic ceilings. Another is to promote eugenic policies, or at least policies to mitigate the dysgenic trends that are typical of modern developed societies, but they tend to be ethically questionable and politically unfeasible. The third major lever is the immigration system, but how can we assess whether it’s doing its job of only letting in the people who would be a net benefit to the host country?

In my wanderings through the interwebs, I found that the NCES has an excellent “International Data Explorer” with all kinds of socio-economic data on the tested students of each country that participated in the PISA standardized tests (which correlate closely with IQ). Of particular interest was data on scores broken down by immigration status (native, 1st generation, 2nd generation), which was frankly stunning in the degree to which it confirms various stereotypes and explains why migrants succeed in some countries and live in lawless ghettos in others. See the graph below (click to enlarge).

One thing that immediately leaps out from above is that just as US scores leap upwards (from 496 to about 525, in line with Australia and Canada) once only whites are considered, so do scores in many European states when only natives are considered (e.g. Germany from 510 to 533; Switzerland from 517 to 542; the Netherlands from 519 to 533). In fact, the countries mentioned above and a few others equalize with Japan’s 529, Taiwan’s 534, and South Korea’s 541 (the natives of these developed East Asian societies also score a lot higher than their immigrants, but the overall effect on the national average is modest because migrant children are such a small percentage of their school-age populations). In other words, in the worst affected European countries, immigrants are lowering the mean national IQ (converted from PISA scores) by as much as 3 points.

This might not seem like much, but it is highly significant when bearing in mind the extremely close correlation between national IQ and prosperity. Furthermore, since immigrant populations tend to be highly variant – for instance, Britain has a lot of Poles, who are essentially equal to the natives in cognitive capacity (maybe even superior, once you adjust for the fact that it is better-educated Poles who tend to emigrate), and a lot of Pakistanis, who are far below them. This is a good explanation for the general sense of dereliction one sees (and the crime one is likely to experience) when entering Pakistani ghettos in the UK.

Also note from the graph that there is typically a very high degree of overlap between 1st and 2nd generation immigrant children. The 2nd generation children DO typically perform better, presumably because 1st generation immigrants may frequently have language difficulties and problems with adjusting to a new culture. But the degree of convergence of 2nd generation children to the native mean is modest, despite their transferal to typically far more advanced educational environments. Convergence is almost inconsequential in most European countries like Germany, France, Benelux, Norway, and actually negative in the US (i.e. American 2nd generation immigrant children do worse than the 1st generation).

This second chart shows the IQ gap – derived from the differences in PISA scores – between native children, and children who are 2nd generation immigrants (i.e., born within the country in question). I think that it is more useful to compare the 2nd generation with natives than the 1st generation because their educational environments will have been similar; the language issue will have vastly declined in importance; immigrant population will have taken their first step in “reversion to the mean” in terms of their ethnic group IQ; 2nd generation progeny are far less likely to emigrate back to their countries of origin; etc. So what do we see here?

(1) Australia (2nd generation migrants have +2 IQ points relative to natives) and Singapore (+1), two countries with immigration policies that are cognitively elitist in practice, enjoy immigrants that are superior to the native population and will clearly benefit them a lot.

(2) Canada’s (-2) system is mixed, with many immigrants of both high and low quality. The commentator celtthedog has an explanation that sounds plausible: “… Americans who cite Canada’s allegedly magnificent immigration system that only accepts highly skilled immigrants, need to acknowledge that accompanying this is a refugee programm, which lets in scores of pretty much worthless migrants. Do you really think the hoards of Jamaicans, Somalis, Sikhs and Moslems actually benefit Canada in any meaningful way or were brought in on the basis of skills native-born Canadians don’t have? Canada’s system is 50% good, 50% atrocious.”

(3) I’d have expected the UK’s (-2) immigrants to perform about as badly as in the rest of Europe, but on inspection, it’s in the same boat as Canada. Yes, there are many Pakistani and Black immigrants, but Britain also attracts many well-qualified East-Central Europeans and Asians.

(4) The US (-4) has an idiotic immigration system that penalizes highly-qualified workers while being relatively lax at controlling (inevitably unqualified, lower-IQ) illegals from Central America. But nonetheless, it’s an economic and technological dynamo, and despite policy failures there are still plenty of high-IQ immigrants.

(5) Spain (-5), Italy (-6), Norway (-7), Sweden (-9), the Netherlands (-9), France (-9), Germany (-10) and Belgium (-11) have progressively worse quality immigrants relative to the natives in their countries. (The reason for why the Med countries do “better” than the Teutonic ones isn’t because they have better immigrants, but because their native IQ’s are lower). Unlike the US, they tend to have few highly-qualified immigrants, as English speaking (and typically lower tax) nations like Australia, the US, etc. are more attractive to high-IQ cosmopolitans. What’s more, a big proportion of the immigrants to Europe are Muslims, whose faith and habits conflict with local mores to a far greater extent than Catholic Hispanics clash with the indigenous American culture.

(6) In countries like Dubai, Qatar, Kazakhstan, and Israel, the higher quality of immigrants is presumably due to the fairly low human capital of the host nations themselves.

(7) It is interesting to know that the country with the biggest gap between natives and 2nd generation immigrants for which statistics exist is Mexico (-12), which is known for contributing many low-quality immigrants itself. So the immigrants who come to Mexico are truly bottom of the barrel types, which presumably explains why Mexican border defenses to the south are militarized to an extent that would drive liberals apoplectic if implemented in the US. This, and the lure of El Dorado to the north, probably explains why Mexico itself doesn’t have an immigration problem: Although it might have the worst immigrants relative to its indigenous population, Mexico’s native (421) and national (420) average PISA scores are virtually identical, implying that its immigrants are numerically insignificant.

Immigrants are a matter of both quantity and quality. If immigrants are overwhelmingly low-IQ relative to the host population, but very low in numbers, as in Japan or Mexico, then this isn’t a major concern. If they are are high in numbers, but comparable to the host population, as in Australia, then this isn’t a huge concern either. If they are high-IQ relative to the natives, then it’s typically a boon for the host nation, as with Israel (presumably thanks to Ashkenazi Jews from the former USSR), or the Arab oil states; though a longer-term concern might be the emergence of “market dominant minorities”, such as the Jews in old Europe, or the Chinese diaspora in South East Asia.

However, clearly the worst scenario is when immigrants are both many and far inferior in IQ to the aborigine population, to the extent that the mean national IQ appreciably plummets due to their influence. The final graph is perhaps the most important. It shows the difference between national average IQ’s, and average IQ’s for natives, as derived from the PISA scores. Countries experiencing a net fall in the average IQ relative to the native IQ of more than 2 points include Benelux and the Germanic lands. More modest falls in average IQ are experienced in France, the UK, Russia, and Canada. The gap in the US is only 0.9 – presumably, because unskilled Hispanic immigrants aren’t the worst types can get, and are further counterbalanced by many skilled, high-IQ immigrants from Asia; and also because the native US population already includes Blacks, whereas European countries don’t tend to have sizable low-IQ indigenous minorities. In Norway, where Breivik comes from, the effect is only 0.5 points, and in Greece, where the Golden Dawn party recently put up a good showing, it’s a truly insignificant 0.1 points. I wonder why the strongest anti-immigrant reactions are in countries where the issue isn’t all that significant?

It is not controversial to argue that immigration policies should ideally benefit the host country. Liberal economists in particular argue that for loose immigration policies, especially in the case of countries with rapidly aging populations, so as to arrest the decline of the workforce and pressures on pensions. They tend to view the incomers as a source of labor, rarely accounting for its quality in any detail, let alone considering the long-term social and economic consequences of the mass influx of lower mean IQ populations.

In reality, IQ is closely correlated with any number of highly important things like productivity, criminality, civic-mindedness, welfare dependency, etc. and research is converging on the view that IQ is highly heritable and that different ethnic groups have different genetic IQ ceilings. This is all reflected in the far lower average cognitive capacities of the immigrant populations of Europe, and to a lesser extent, the US and Canada, relative to that of natives. For a long time this view necessarily had to be based on stereotypes, anecdotes, or at best limited regional studies, with the consequence that someone raising these issues ran the risk of being called insensitive to “institutional racism” and various other, largely irrelevant liberal/PC hogwash. The detailed PISA results demonstrate that schoolchild immigrant IQ’s may rise somewhat when they are born in developed nations – the average for all countries on which data is available is a rise of 1.6 IQ points from the 1st to 2nd generation – as they get access to better nutrition and education (i.e. experiencing an accelerated Flynn Effect), and resolve any lingering language issues; but for all that, they remain far closer to the stock from which they came, while convergence to native IQ levels typically remains modest or non-existent.

Just giving it more time, Newspeak, and diversity officers won’t resolve these issues. As it stands, to varying extents, the developed world has decided to just that – stick its head in the sand and pour calumnies – not to mention the occasional prosecution for “hate speech” – on dissenters such as Thilo Sarrazin.

The PISA 2009 data in full.

National Native 2nd Gen 1st Gen
Shanghai 577 589
Hong Kong 546 557 554 520
Finland 544 549 464
Singapore 543 550 558 552
South Korea 541 544
Japan 529 535
Canada 527 533 519 521
New Zealand 524 532 497 524
Taiwan 519 534
Australia 519 521 533 521
Netherlands 519 533 471 469
Liechtenstein 518 539
Switzerland 517 542 479 465
Estonia 514 524 479
Germany 510 533 463 458
Belgium 509 525 453 448
Macao 508 514 511 508
Iceland 501 505 426
Poland 501 503
Norway 500 504 456 441
United Kingdom 500 508 495 467
Denmark 499 509 441 421
Slovenia 499 513 455 422
France 497 508 445 429
Ireland 497 503 473
United States 496 502 474 481
Hungary 496 497
Sweden 495 505 447 417
Czech Republic 490 498 451 487
Portugal 490 493 467 460
Slovak Republic 488 495
Austria 487 508 437 407
Latvia 487 489 469
Italy 486 491 449 414
Spain 484 493 461 427
Luxembourg 482 510 447 457
Lithuania 479 486 459
Croatia 474 476 463 453
Greece 473 474 449 415
Russia 468 477 447 452
Dubai, UAE 459 395 467 503
Israel 459 456 470 447
Turkey 454 451
Serbia 442 443 467 446
Chile 439 437
Bulgaria 432 437
Uruguay 427 428
Romania 426 429
Thailand 422 422
Mexico 420 421 344 331
Trinidad & Tobago 413 417 427
Montenegro 404 403 425 405
Jordan 402 402 418 418
Brazil 401 399 323
Colombia 399 394
Kazakhstan 398 402 431 373
Argentina 396 398 365 359
Tunisia 392 387
Azerbaijan 389 403 392
Indonesia 385 378
Albania 384 388
Qatar 373 339 389 452
Panama 369 378 394 328
Peru 368 370
Kyrgyz Republic 325 333
(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Now that I’m done with the Necessary Caveats, it’s time we had a look at why exactly HBD/IQ theories are both valid, and relevant to the real world. As I see it, their main import (as interpreted by me) can be distilled into a few logically consecutive, falsifiable statements:

  1. IQ tests are a valid, culturally fair measure of cognitive ability.
  2. It is hereditary.
  3. Race is real.
  4. There are racial/ethnic differences in average IQ that cannot be explained merely by reference to socio-economic or cultural factors.
  5. The US is an excellent “laboratory” to ascertain the average genetic IQ ceiling of different races and ethnicities.
  6. Average IQ influences prosperity, and general living standards.
  7. Consequently, knowing the racial constraints on average IQ’s – i.e., the IQ ceilings – we can estimate the relative development potential of different countries and regions.

All of them have have acquired a great deal of supporting evidence, even though they – or in particular, their linkage – remains taboo for the media and wider public discussion. By the numbers:

1. There is typically a large degree of correlation between various IQ tests, and academic achievement scores (1, 2). Nobody has yet discovered a test which has a negative correlation with a battery of other tests. This implies that there is a common “g factor” behind all types of cognitive ability.

Obviously this allows for very big variations within a single person. But within a group, someone who does well in one test will most likely also do well in another.

The argument that IQ tests are culturally biased is frequently made on the basis that they show differences in performance between racial/ethnic groups. This is a fallacy. In any case, there are IQ tests designed to be culturally fair insofar as they eschew words and test pattern recognition, such as Cattell Culture Fair III and Raven’s Progressive Matrices. These tests have a high correlation with the battery of other tests, i.e. they are valid reflections of g.

2. The scientific literature converges on a range from 40%-80% for IQ heritability. (1, 2) The correlation in scores between twins reared apart is around 75%-80%.

3. Is race a social construct? The commonsense answer is no. Consider that beyond the “my lying eyes” stuff (e.g. skin color/melanin content; epicanthic folds, etc.), there is also evidence of genetic differences in: Physical abilities (west African sprinters; Kenyan marathoners); conformity (Asians); lactose tolerance (whites); alcohol intolerance (Asians); even average penis size (large – Africa; Latin America; small – East Asia). The latter example isn’t nearly as… flippant as it seems, since testosterone levels have a large effect on behavior. There are multiple genetic disorders that only affect certain races or ethnicities, and race specific drugs are now coming online.

But ultimately, this is one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words.

This is a genetic map of Europe, superimposed on a geographic map (remarkable how it works out almost perfectly). Note that although there is some degree of overlap between European ethnicities, there are still clear clusters and centers of gravity corresponding to particular nationalities.

Now look at this genetic map (click to enlarge). See that dark blue oval to the center-left? That is Europe. Recall that even within that tiny space there are distinct clusters, with virtually zero overlap between, say, Greeks and Germans. Now note the vast distance that separates Europe from East Asia (center-right), and the three African clusters (bottom).

So it’s really just a minor matter of semantics. Some people shy away from using the word “race”, instead speaking of “genetic clusters”, “population groups”, “groups of common geographic ancestry”, etc. “Race” is short and convenient.PI

4. There is a vast body of global IQ scores (e.g. Lynn). They follow a consistent pattern: East Asian countries tend to score 105, European and Euro-settler countries 100, and sub-Saharan African countries 65-80.

The internationalized standardized PISA tests display the same pattern (as expected, since they load on the same g).

(Internationally, I think the culture argument makes some interesting points. E.g., the Protestant work ethic – reflected even now in the fact that the world’s richest and highest-IQ white countries tend to be Protestant. But there are two problems. First, possible narrative fallacy, e.g. Confucianism, with its connotations of traditionalism and conservatism, was once used to explain why Asian countries lagged behind Europe; but with their success in the past generation, the respect for learning, rule of law, etc. that it supposedly instilled is now sometimes used to explain their success! Can’t have it both ways. Second, what applies in one period can wane in another. Yes, Protestantism fostered human capital development by emphasizing independent Bible reading (i.e. more literacy!), which in turn helped early industrial growth. But today this effect seems to have receded into the past – see the success of south Germany, north Italy, France, Ireland.)

5. The US is an excellent “laboratory” to estimate the average genetic IQ ceiling of different races and ethnicities by virtue of its diversity; standardized education system that produces results that, when broken down by race, are superior to almost every other country in the world; decent equality of educational opportunity; no nutritional deficit among any population group; and post-Flynn effect status.

Within the US, all tests of cognitive ability – IQ, PISA (1, 2), SAT – replicate the global pattern. Though there is variance from test to test, but as a rule, the intelligence hierarchy is as follows: Asian-Americans; whites; Hispanics; blacks. The gaps between Asian-Americans and whites are narrowed than internationally (because Asian-Americans also include medium-IQ peoples like Filipinos and Vietnamese); and the gaps between whites and blacks are narrowed (because, unlike African or Haitian blacks, African-Americans enjoy better nutrition and education.

It must also be noted that whereas most of these tests indicate that Asians closed gaps (in reading, writing) and overtook whites (in math) over the years, there has been no sign of any significant convergence for blacks.

Is it because schools in poorer areas (inner city, where NAM’s cluster) are badly funded? No, per student funding tends to be broadly similar for both inner city and suburban schools. Besides, education funding doesn’t play a major role in results. In Italy, there is no correlation between school funding and performance by province. China gets PISA and IQ results higher than America’s despite spending a tiny fraction of the resources that the US lavishes on each of its pupils. Indeed, it probably doesn’t matter much, as IQ tends to be fixed by the age of the 5.

Is it because blacks come from poorer families on average? IQ is a far more persuasive explanation for why people are poor in the first place. Refer to The Bell Curve (Murray & Herrnstein).

US blacks (85-90) get far better IQ scores than Africans (65-80). These two facts are highly important because in Africa, the IQ’s of many populations are currently constrained by poor nutrition and (in some cases) the different psychologies of pre-industrial and illiterate peoples. In practice, and discounting variation (Africa is the world’s most genetically diverse continent, so it is not impossible that there will be some relatively high-IQ subgroups among them), it seems likely that the average IQ ceiling for African blacks is similar to the actual IQ’s of US blacks. I.e., maybe 85 (lower than 85-90, because US blacks have 20% admixture with whites).

US Hispanics score better than Mexicans or Central Americans, displaying IQ’s (or IQ equivalents) in the low 90′s (Mexico: 88-90; Panama: 84-80). Whites are at around 100. Asian-Americans tend to be in the low to mid 100′s, but there is huge variance (East Asians – higher; South-East Asians – lower).

7. Refer to Education as the Elixir of Growth III. There is a 0.43 correlation between the GDP (PPP) per capita of a country with its PISA/TIMMS scores, which rises to a stunning 0.84 once countries with a post-Communist legacy (low outliers), resource windfalls (high outliers), or offshore financial industries that constitute the bulk of their GDP (high outliers) are removed from the same. (Any correlation of >0.5 is an excellent one in social science). This implies a fairly rigid glass ceiling on GDP per capita for any one country in relation to its IQ. It’s largely invisible, as few people appreciate the importance of human capital to growth, but it’s most certainly there.

At the micro level, the g factor tends to be by far the best indicator of job performance (above grades, interviews, references, etc) – not only in “cognitive elite” jobs such as lawyers or physicians, but also to a significant extent even among menial workers. There is a correlation of 0.9-0.95 between employees in a certain profession and prestige ratings of those professions by the general public. The correlation between IQ and income is around 0.4-0.5.

The importance of average genetic IQ ceilings

We have a fairly strong and convincing (to me anyway) theory that average IQ ceilings depends on race, and that IQ (g, PISA scores, etc) are remarkable closely correlated with economic prosperity. Furthermore, it is almost certain that the causation is largely one way, at least once basic nutritional and literacy problems are solved; otherwise, the Chinese and Koreans would not be outperforming US Hispanics or African-Americans.

Following from the graph of Human Capital Index and income above, there seems to be a point past 450 – about 92.5, in IQ terms – at which (market-based) economies transition from middle-income status, to high-income. If Mexico could raise its human capital to about the levels of their compatriots in the US, this would (going by correlations) enable a massive expansion in its productivity.

Unfortunately, the average genetic IQ ceiling for African blacks is 85, maybe 90 at most. Nonetheless, if Africa could consistently raise it to even the former figure, it would then have a degree of human capital equivalent to today’s Brazil. Though true convergence with developed countries is precluded, reaching Brazil’s levels would be a gargantuan improvement for the living standards of the average African.

In general, it should be possible to construct a “potential IQ” (and corresponding potential GDP per capita level) for each country. They would look something like this (PISA/IQ format):

  • US (500/100) – All racial groups are already performing very close to their genetic potential (Asian-Americans (NOT East Asians) – low 100′s, whites – 100, Hispanics – low 90′s, blacks – high 80′s). The challenge will be in maintaining it (due to Hispanic immigration).
  • China (550/108) – It currently has 103(PISA converted into IQ)-105(IQ), but may still eke out a few more points by totally eliminating malnutrition. Should have no problem in becoming as rich as Korea or Japan with one more generation.
  • India (450/92.5) – Very low (and puzzling) 75(PISA)-82. But also malnutrition is still extremely high, as are endemic diseases; the vegetarianism of a significant portion of the population may also have a negative effect (protein aids brain development). My estimate is that average Indian genetic IQ ceiling is similar to Hispanics, but with huge variance due to caste/ethnic diversity.
  • Russia (500/100) – Moderate score at 95(PISA)-97(IQ). Smaller than ethnically similar Poland (99/100), due to 2 possible factors: (1) Academic focus to exclusion of more general g (Russia does much better on TIMMS, PIRLS); (2) Possible effects of highly prevalent alcoholism on the current cohort being tested. Poland’s score may represent a more accurate “Slavic ceiling.” Natural GDP per capita level would seem to be in between the Germanic countries and the Med, but resource windfall would nudge it closer to the former.
  • Brazil (460/94) – Today at 87(PISA)-85(IQ). Capping off the BRIC’s, the potential is derived by taking the estimated genetic ceilings of US blacks (with adjustment for Brazilian blacks having more admixture) with Med Europe ceiling, and weighing by population ratios.
  • Germanic Europe (520/103) – based on current scores, but will face challenge in maintaining it (due to immigration policies).
  • Med Europe (490/99) – based on Spain, Portugal, Italy results. In a way, one can see the Euro crisis – which is mostly affecting the PIGS – as the invisible hand’s way of bumping down the Med countries to a level more in line with their lower human capital (relative to the Germanic countries).
  • Turkey (470/96) – now at 91(PISA)/93(IQ), but potential based on Greece’s current scores; Turks and Greeks genetically similar.
  • Japan (530/105) – as now, no significant change as immigration is low. But economic difficulties due to debt, negative population growth, ballooning elderly dependency ratios.
  • Israel (?) – is globally irrelevant but a really fascinating case study, complicated by the discrepancy between Ashkenazi Euro-Jewish IQ scores (c.115) and Israel’s mediocre performance of 95(IQ)/94(PISA) which is hard to explain as Ashkenazi Jews still make up more than half of Israel’s population. Also lots of demography has to be taken into account. Deserves a separate post.
  • Australia, Canada (520/103) – as now, but will NOT face difficulties maintaining them because of their Cognitive Elitist immigration policies; as they also enjoy resource windfalls, they will probably do economically better than the rest of the developed world.

Based on the figures above, we can expect that the BRIC’s nations should in principle be able to converge to developed country levels. However, there are two major groups within the BRIC’s. China and Russia are already at a human capital level that enables convergence (China’s is significantly higher, but Russia is already richer, and also has the added bonus of a resource windfall). In contrast, Brazil and India are not currently at human capital levels that enable convergence; however, they do both have the potential to raise them to just the levels needed to break out of the “middle-income” trap and converge. But for that they have to develop their human capital to its full genetic potential. The quantity of the needed change is very significant and, even under rosy assumptions (e.g. +3 IQ points a decade until equalization with genetic potential), the process will take decades. Until they at least the low 90′s, they will remain stuck – especially Brazil, because it is already very rich for its human capital level – with fairly low long-term growth rates.

Whatever their average genetic IQ ceilings, it is highly advisable for all the poorer and low-IQ nations to: (1) improve childhood nutrition (e.g. free vitamin pills at schools seems especially low-cost/high-impact); (2) anti-vegetarian propaganda, where such applies; (3) study the experience of foreign countries, esp. the US which has had a lot of success with maximizing NAM scores, and Finland which (at least on PISA) manages to maximize white scores; (4) explore pharmaceutical and technological means of bridging their IQ gaps with the developed world (e.g. nootropics).

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Today I discovered this really nifty tool, Target Map. It allows you to generate color-coded global and national maps just by uploading an Excel database.

In what will probably surprise no-one who follows my interests, my first map illustrates average PISA scores for Math, Reading, and Science for the 65 regions in the original 2009 study, 10 additional regions in a 2010 follow-up study, and the results from 12 of China’s provinces. The correlation between this map, a map of global IQ’s, and a map of GDP per capita – covered in detail on this blog – is startling to say the least.

(Click to enlarge). A table of PISA results, both average and by each of the three components, follows below the break.

Countries of particular interest or significance are bolded.

Country Reading Math Science Average
Hong Kong 533 555 549 546
Finland 536 541 554 544
Singapore 526 562 542 543
South Korea 539 546 538 541
Japan 520 529 539 529
Canada 524 527 529 527
New Zealand 521 519 532 524
China 486 550 524 520
Taiwan 495 543 520 519
Netherlands 508 526 522 519
Australia 515 514 527 519
Liechtenstein 499 536 520 518
Switzerland 501 534 517 517
Estonia 501 512 528 514
Germany 497 513 520 510
Belgium 506 515 507 509
Iceland 500 507 496 501
Poland 500 495 508 501
Norway 503 498 500 500
United Kingdom 494 492 514 500
Denmark 495 503 499 499
Slovenia 483 501 512 499
France 496 497 498 497
Ireland 496 487 508 497
OECD average 493 496 501 497
United States 500 487 502 496
Hungary 494 490 503 496
Sweden 497 494 495 495
Czech Republic 478 493 500 490
Portugal 489 487 493 490
Slovak Republic 477 497 490 488
Austria 470 496 494 487
Latvia 484 482 494 487
Italy 486 483 489 486
Spain 481 483 488 484
Luxembourg 472 489 484 482
Lithuania 468 477 491 479
Croatia 476 460 486 474
Greece 483 466 470 473
Russian Fed. 459 468 478 468
Israel 474 447 455 459
Malta 442 463 461 455
Turkey 464 445 454 454
Serbia 442 442 443 442
Chile 449 421 447 439
Bulgaria 429 428 439 432
UAE 431 421 438 430
Costa Rica 443 409 430 427
Uruguay 426 427 427 427
Romania 424 427 428 426
Thailand 421 419 425 422
Mexico 425 419 416 420
Mauritius 407 420 417 415
Venezuela (Miranda) 422 397 422 414
Malaysia 414 404 422 413
Trinidad & Tobago 416 414 410 413
Montenegro 408 403 401 404
Jordan 405 387 415 402
Brazil 412 386 405 401
Moldova 388 397 413 399
Colombia 413 381 402 399
Kazakhstan 390 405 400 398
Argentina 398 388 401 396
Tunisia 404 371 401 392
Azerbaijan 362 431 373 389
Indonesia 402 371 383 385
Albania 385 377 391 384
Georgia 374 379 373 375
Qatar 372 368 379 373
Panama 371 360 376 369
Peru 370 365 369 368
India 327 345 337 336
Kyrgyzstan 314 331 330 325
(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Despite the unremitting hostility of its Russian neighbor, which crescendoed in a military occupation of a chunk of its territories, plucky Georgia’s commitment to reform and democratic values will ensure its rapid development into a “booming Western-style economy.” Under its charismatic Western-trained President, Saakashvili, it has rooted out corruption, ushered in untold prosperity and freedoms, and left dictatorial Russia in the dust. ““There are barbarians there and civilization here,” summarizes Saakashvili himself, “There they have mongoloid brutality and ideology while here we have the true, the oldest Colchis Europe, the most ancient civilization.”

At least, that’s the picture you might have of Georgia if you read Saakashvili’s speeches, Western op-eds, Russian liberals like Cato Institute flunky and global warming denier Andrey Illarionov, and a sundry host of Georgian ambassadors and lobbyists shilling for all they’re worth in major Western newspapers. But rhetoric and reality can be two very different things. To what extent do objective indicators (e.g. statistics) bear out this neocon vision of Tbilisi as the shining city on the Caucasian hills?

By the numbers… Let’s start with the economy. Saakashvili deserves some credit for maintaining respectable GDP growth rates, albeit they are far from the awe-inspiring figures of China or, for that matter, several other post-Soviet republics. From 2004 to 2011, the Georgian economy grew at an average of 6.0% per annum, which is only modestly higher than Russia’s 4.5%.

However, this comparison becomes much more unfavorable once Georgian growth is adjusted for other factors. First, Russia is already much richer than Georgia – its GDP, however you measure it, is more than three times higher – so by basic economic theory, ceteris paribus its growth rate should be much higher as poorer countries have many more easy opportunities to increase productivity. (Illarionov, by the way, is ignorant of convergence theory, a fairly basic macroeconomic concept; it’s frightening that this “economist”, who is more accurately a libertarian ideologue, was once a major economic adviser to the Russian government). Second, Georgia had by far the biggest and sharpest decline in GDP during the early 1990′s of all the Soviet republics, and even as of this year, its gross output is still 20% below the peak levels of 1989. This should also, in principle, help Georgia grow much faster than Russia – which surpassed its peak Soviet-era output sometime in the mid-2000′s – because in a sense it is still “recovering” from an economic depression.

A much more appropriate comparison would be with Armenia. Both are in the unstable Caucasus region. Georgia has intermittently faced sanctions from Russia, whereas Armenia is under permanent economic blockade from Turkey and Azerbaijan. Unlike Azerbaijan, neither Tbilisi nor Yerevan enjoy an oil windfall. Their GDP per capita is almost exactly the same: About $3000 nominal, and $5000 in purchasing power adjusted dollars. Unlike Georgia, Armenia has recovered its Soviet-era production levels and then some; its GDP is now more than 50% as big as in 1989, so it is well past the period of mere “recovery growth”. Both countries suffered from destructive wars in the early 1990′s, and both remain highly militarized to this day. Nonetheless, with the exception of the past three years, when it was crushed by the economic crisis, Armenia has consistently clocked up higher GDP growth rates than Georgia. In sum terms, during the 2004-2011 period, both countries grew at approximately the same pace: 6.0% for Georgia, 6.3% for Armenia.

In the graph above, GDP per capita is indexed to 100 at 2003 for a range of post-Soviet countries. It is clear that Estonia and Armenia, despite their deep recent recessions, are highly successful transition economies; both are a lot more prosperous now than in 1989. Russia is only moderately successful. Along with Ukraine, Georgia is still well below Soviet-era peak output levels, and its growth under Saakashvili wasn’t exceptional by the standards of other post-Soviet republics, despite its twin advantages of starting from a low base (unlike Russia, Estonia) and still being in the process of recovering lost output (unlike Armenia).

Another relevant comparison is with the “corrupt” and “nepotistic” Shevardnadze administration from 1995-2003, which was overthrown to great fanfare in the “Rose Revolution”. What was Georgia’s growth rate then? 5.9%. That is within rounding error of growth under Saakashvili. It should furthermore be noted that growth was accelerating throughout Shevardnadze’s Presidency, reaching a peak of 11.1% in 2003. So there are valid questions as to the extent the high growth rates of the early Saakashvili Presidency were due to his neoliberal reforms.

What about life for ordinary people? There is no doubt that the average Georgian became significantly better off, as was the case everywhere in the former USSR during this period. Georgian statistics show nominal wages almost quadrupling from 2004-2010, from 157 lari to 598 lari per month, albeit adjusting for inflation would reduce it to only a bit better than a doubling.

However, higher wages can only be enjoyed by people who actually get them. During the same period, unemployment grew from 12.6% to 16.3%. Despite neoliberal reforms that undercut the bargaining power of labor, unemployment in Georgian urban areas – approaching 40% in the capital, Tbilisi – is now as prevalent as in the most impoverished provinces of the Russian Caucasus. About half of the Georgian labor force is “self-employed” in sustenance farming, which is a higher figure than two decades ago. In contrast, unemployment in both neighboring Armenia, and “corrupt” and “stagnating” Russia is around 6%-7%.

So bearing in mind actual statistics, does Georgia still deserve the status of a “miracle economy” conferred to it by libertarians and neocons? Don’t get me wrong, 6% is not bad. It’s no worse than under (maligned) Shevardnadze, and modestly better than the 4% average growth rates observed in Moldova, the very worst performer in the entire post-Soviet space. But even so, Georgia is not going to catch up with the developed world at its current pace of development – not like China, which has comparable income levels but is growing at 10% rates, or Russia, which is already three to four times richer.

Moving on, Georgia has also been lauded for excoriating previously endemic corruption, and becoming one of the world’s most “economically free” and business-friendly locations. The latter may well be true; objective ratings such as the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, which measure the number of days and permission slips required to start a business, place Georgia 16th globally. This seems a genuine achievement, albeit as real world data shows, these things have at best only a marginal influence on economic growth rates, which are primarily determined by a country’s initial development level relative to the quality of its educational human capital.

On the Corruption Perceptions Index, Georgia improved its score from 1.8 in 2003 to 4.1 by 2011, which is a very significant change (in contrast, Russia languishes at 2.4, and Armenia at 2.6). But some Georgian businesses report government agents demanding political “donations” to Saakashvili’s ruling party to avert hostile raids, and in any case it must be borne in mind that the CPI is a proxy of corruption perceptions, not corruption realities per se. The CPI rating can thus be unduly influenced by good PR and lobbying. As a Western-trained lawyer, Saakashvili appreciates their importance, and has over the years paid millions of dollars to PR firms like Aspect Consulting, Orion Strategies, Public Strategies, and the Glover Park Group to burnish Georgia’s reformist, anti-corruption and democratic image abroad.

Other indicators that are not as reliant on the perceptions of anonymous experts show a somewhat different picture. In the Global Integrity Report, which is based on blind review, Georgia does only modestly better than Russia, scoring 76/100 as compared to Moscow’s 71/100. On the Open Budget Index, which assesses the transparency of government accounts, Russia actually does better, scoring 60/100 to Georgia’s 55/100. And according to Transparency International, the same outfit behind the CPI, the percentage of Georgians who reported paying a bribe in the past year in 2004 was only 6%; as of 2010, this had declined to 3%. A positive and appreciable change to be sure, but the data indicates that petty corruption was not that much of a problem in Georgia to start off with.

Didn’t Saakashvili at least democratize Georgia? Well, no. The fact of the matter is that Georgia was already a democracy under Shevardnadze, if a highly imperfect and illiberal one. The same remains true today. Unofficial protests are brutally broken up, independent TV stations have their licenses revoked, and opposition figures have their citizenships canceled or forced into exile abroad. Georgia has also become a revisionist and highly nationalist power under the charismatic President, whose actions have ranged from the petty and incompetent, e.g. blowing up a Soviet war memorial to Georgian war dead, and in the process killing a mother and her daughter in the blast, to the criminally deranged and incompetent, e.g. the invasion of South Ossetia and carpet bombing of Tskhinvali, even though virtually no Ossetian wants to live in a Greater Georgia.

If one doubts that Saakashvili is in fact rather far from being a nice liberal democrat, all one has to do is look at the indicators of political freedoms. In the Polity IV rankings, the most comprehensive democracy indicators database assembled by political scientists, Georgia increased from 5/10 to 6/10 on a scale from -10 (zero democracy) to 10 (full democracy) under Saakashvili. This is hardly the glorious transformation the Rose Revolution is often made out to be; nor is it very much different from the Evil Empire’s. Russia’s current score is 4/10, for whatever reason down from 6/10 after Medvedev’s election in 2008.

There are however two socio-economic indicators under Saakashvili that did register highly visible, concrete changes. If not for the better.

From 36% in 1991, the tertiary enrollment rate remained steady until the late 1990′s, when it began to grow, reaching 43% by 2003 and peaking at 47% in 2005. Then it plummeted to 25% by 2009, edging up to 28% in 2010. This seems to have been in substantial part due to an increase in the cost of annual university tuition from 500-600 lari in 2003 to 3000-4000 lari by 2009, an eight-fold increase far exceeding the quadrupling of salaries during the same period (even disregarding increased unemployment). Bearing in mind that the average salary was 557 lari in 2009, it is clear that for many families university education became unaffordable. Government grants have also plummeted: From wholly financing the educations of 9,700 students in 2003, by 2009 they were subsidizing only half the tuition costs of 1,000 students. University access has dropped by more than 80% in some regions.

This is particularly catastrophic for Georgia because international student assessments indicate that their schools are almost useless at imparting real world skills. According to PISA 2009, only “31% of [Georgian] students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development.” The equivalent figure for Russia was 72%, and about 78% for the OECD as a whole. On Reading, Math, and Science, Georgian students came, respectively, 67th, 66th, and 70th out of the 75 countries in the PISA assessment. Other international student assessments paint a similarly dire picture. For instance, in TIMMS 2007, Georgian students got an average score of 410 in the Math component, relative to Armenia’s 499 and Russia’s 512. The gap is not substantially different in the Science component, or in the PIRLS 2006 literacy survey. This is unlikely to improve any time soon, as under Saakashvili, the number of public libraries more than halved.

While Georgia was disinvesting in its future workforce, tertiary enrollment has risen in Georgia’s neighbors. In Armenia, it rose from 24% in 1998 to 52% by 2010; the percentage of Russians undergoing university education rose from 55% in 2000 to 76% by 2009. That is because the leaderships of these countries, as in much of the rest of the civilized world, appreciate the importance of human capital to fostering economic growth. In Saakashvili’s world, presumably, praying to the souls of Hayek, Mises and Rothbard would suffice. More education is the road to serfdom.

But in the end, I guess it’s all a matter of priorities. The Georgian army and police are now well fed. Who needs math, science, and literacy anyway? “Military-patriotic education means training in civil defense,” Saakashvili says, “Stimulating soldierly spirit, which historically was always in nature of people in Georgia; as well as courses in Georgia’s military history” is what is really important. Hear hear? Meanwhile, the prison population has tripled from 182/100,000 in 2004, to 536/100,000 in 2011. Under Saakashvili’s democratic guidance, Georgia has acquired the dubious distinction of being the European country with the most prisoners per capita, displacing Russia (the irony!) in the process.

This is not to say that Georgia is a corrupt, stagnant tinpot dictatorship, its tottering foundations stabilized by huge inflows of American capital (though the latter sums, ranging in the billions, are very substantial relative to the tiny size of the Georgian economy). Saakashvili has maintained a mediocre level of economic growth, wages have risen substantially, and corruption has been reduced. Nonetheless, its performance is far less impressive than that of a comparable neighbor, Armenia, and on almost every socio-economic indicator it massively lags Russia. It is a democracy, but the quality of its democracy is not substantially better than that of Russia, which countless Western pundits describe as an authoritarian kleptocracy returning to the USSR.

In place of building the foundations for sustained long-term growth, Saakashvili has instead been busy undermining what little of it exists. No amount of reforms to make life easier for capitalists can compensate for the abysmal quality of the Georgian education system, and Saakashvili’s wanton curtailment of the only partial remedy for it, university access. He is at essence a blowhard, passable perhaps as a mercenary lawyer, but utterly unqualified for the work of statesmanship. He pontificates about building huge new cities on swampland (complete with “seven star hotels”), demands Slavic countries stop calling his country “Gruzia” as they have done for centuries, and arrests Russian tourists who dare holiday in his country for the mere suspicion of having passed through breakaway Abkhazia. Russian language schools are closed down, and the main Tbilisi boulevard is renamed in honor of G.W. Bush, while the latter was still President to boot!

What emerges of Saakashvili is a small, petty and vainglorious man, who blames all of Georgia’s problems on his “Mongoloid” northern neighbor and deflects all criticism of his ham-fisted rule by arresting the critics as Russian spies. He presides over “Potemkin Georgia”*, hyped as a tiger economy of the Caucasus by ideologues and paid-up PR men, but in reality fast becoming an isolated Cuba of the Caucasus.

If the good people of Georgia accede to this, it is of course their right as a sovereign people. It is also understandable that neocons who appreciate his irrevocably pro-Western science, libertarians dreaming of culling labor laws and defunding public services, sundry Russophobes operating on an the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend basis, and plain paid-up PR men would defend Saakashvili’s record. But it is also then incumbent on people of honesty and integrity to publicize the lies of his apologists (Andrey Illarionov, David Hamilton, Garry Kasparov, Valeriya Novodvorskaya and Vladimir Bukovsky, Giorgi Badridze, Randy Scheunemann, Jennifer Rubin, Eli Lake, Melik Kalyan, etc), and continue revealing Saakashvili for what he really is – an emperor with no clothes.

Because even if Saakashvili is hellbent on undermining the future of his own country, he should not be allowed to do the same again to Abkhazia or South Ossetia – or for Potemkin Georgia to be portrayed as a model of good and effective governance for other countries to follow.

* Yes, I’m aware that “Potemkin villages” are probably a historical urban legend. But as the term is regularly and uncritically used as regards Russia in the Western press, I don’t see the problem in turning the tables on them.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)

Human capital (primarily education) is the single most important factor behind long-term productivity gains, and hence economic growth. The relatively high human capital of Russia and China, which is comparable to developed country levels, is the most important reason why I rate their future prospects much higher than those of the other two BRIC’s, Brazil and India.

But the internal distribution of human capital is also very important. For instance, in Italy there is an almost perfect correlation between regional PISA scores in Math and Science, and regional GDP’s. I have long wanted to find a similar data set for Russia, and I finally did so today in Jarkko Hautamäki’s slideshow comparing regional PISA performance in Finland and Russia. Based on the figures there I estimated the PISA scores (Math and Science) for Russia’s regions and compiled the map below.


The results by each of the 44 Russian regions which participated in PISA are reproduced below*:

Region PISA 2009
Moscow 546
Saint-Petersburg 519
Tyumen oblast 506
Novosibirsk 502
Chelyabinsk oblast 499
Omsk oblast 497
Samara oblast 496
Vladimir oblast 494
Tula oblast 492
Karelia 489
Tatarstan 489
Komi 488
Tomsk oblast 488
Primorsky krai 483
Krasnoyarsk 482
Chuvashia 482
Udmurtia 478
Sakhalin oblast 477
Saratov oblast 475
Tambov oblast 474
Moscow oblast 472
Volgograd oblast 471
Vologda oblast 470
Kemerovo oblast 470
Altai krai 468
Astrakhan oblast 467
Ryazan oblast 466
Kursk oblast 465
Khanty-Mansiysk 463
Bashkortostan 458
Krasnodar 457
Perm krai 457
Rostov oblast 457
Nizhny Novgorod 456
Voronezh oblast 453
Orenburg oblast 453
Kaluga oblast 446
Sverdlovsk oblast 446
Ulyanovsk oblast 445
Adygea 443
Stavropol 441
Mari El 436
Dagestan 426
Chita oblast 425
Sakha (Yakutia) 419

There are any numbers of comments one can make, but I will confine myself to the most important ones:

(1) In some regions, margins of error are high, as samples were low. Nonetheless, it is still possible to identify concrete patterns.

(2) Moscow pupils performed very well, at the level of the highest scoring OECD countries like Finland, Taiwan, and Korea. This is especially impressive considering the significant numbers of immigrants in that city from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, who come from poorly-scoring countries and rarely have good Russian.

(3) St.-Petersburg and Tyumen oblast performed above the OECD average, while a few other regions performed at or only slightly below the OECD average.

(4) Among ethnic Russian republics, Siberian regions performed well, while the Urals and southern regions performed badly.

(5) Performance in ethnic minority republics differs dramatically. Many of the Turkic and Finno-Ugric regions, such as Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Karelia did well; however, Mari El is a big exception. The Buddhist peoples of Asia, such as Chita oblast (now merged into Zabaykalsky Krai) and the Sakha Republic, performed relatively poorly, as did the Muslim North Caucasus region of Dagestan. Extrapolating from Dagestan, Chechnya would probably score around 400, i.e. like Brazil.

Bear these figures in mind when considering long-term investments into Russia alongside with their business climate, corruption levels, etc.

Finally, there is a table below comparing individual Russian regions with countries around the world. (The Ukraine didn’t participate in PISA 2009, but extrapolating from its TIMMS scores, its rating should be around 454. The OECD average is about 500.) I have bolded countries and Russian regions which are especially useful, in my opinion, for comparative purposes.

Region PISA 2009
China: Shanghai 588
Hong Kong 552
Singapore 552
Finland 548
Moscow 546
Korea 542
China 537
Japan 534
Chinese Taipei 532
Canada 528
Liechtenstein 528
New Zealand 526
Switzerland 526
Netherlands 524
Australia 521
Estonia 520
Saint-Petersburg 519
China: Macao 518
Germany 517
Belgium 511
Slovenia 507
Tyumen oblast 506
United Kingdom 503
Novosibirsk 502
Iceland 502
Poland 502
Denmark 501
Chelyabinsk oblast 499
Norway 499
France 498
Ireland 498
Omsk oblast 497
Czech Republic 497
Hungary 497
Samara oblast 496
Austria 495
Sweden 495
United States 495
Vladimir oblast 494
Slovak Republic 494
Tula oblast 492
Portugal 490
Karelia 489
Tatarstan 489
Komi 488
Latvia 488
Tomsk oblast 488
Luxembourg 487
Italy 486
Spain 486
Lithuania 484
Primorsky krai 483
Krasnoyarsk 482
Chuvashia 482
Udmurtia 478
Sakhalin oblast 477
Saratov oblast 475
Russia 475
Tambov oblast 474
Croatia 473
Moscow oblast 472
Volgograd oblast 471
Vologda oblast 470
Kemerovo oblast 470
Greece 468
Altai krai 468
Astrakhan oblast 467
Ryazan oblast 466
Kursk oblast 465
Khanty-Mansiysk 463
Malta 462
Bashkortostan 458
Krasnodar 457
Perm krai 457
Rostov oblast 457
Nizhny Novgorod 456
Voronezh oblast 453
Orenburg oblast 453
Israel 451
Turkey 450
Kaluga oblast 446
Sverdlovsk oblast 446
Ulyanovsk oblast 445
Adygea 443
Serbia 443
Stavropol 441
Mari El 436
Chile 434
Bulgaria 434
United Arab Emirates 430
Romania 428
Uruguay 427
Dagestan 426
Chita oblast 425
Thailand 422
Costa Rica 420
Sakha (Yakutia) 419
Mauritius 419
Mexico 418
Malaysia 413
Trinidad & Tobago 412
Venezuela 410
Moldova 405
Kazakhstan 403
Azerbaijan 402
Montenegro 402
Jordan 401
Brazil 396
Argentina 395
Colombia 392
Tunisia 386
Albania 384
Indonesia 377
Georgia 376
Qatar 374
Panama 368
Peru 367
India 341
Kyrgyzstan 331

* Methodological note: In reality, the figures given were for all three components of PISA (i.e., Reading, as well as Math and Science). I just assumed there is a perfect correlation in relative performance in Reading as compared to Math and Science (a valid one, I think, as the cross-national evidence indicates this relation is very close), and adjusted from Russia’s Math and Science score. The reason is for the Russian figures to have compatibility with my Human Capital Index, which is the average of PISA and/or TIMSS Math & Science scores.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)

One of the key criticisms of my last post on the tight connections between (educational) human capital and economic performance is that correlation need not imply causation. An alternate (and PC-compliant) explanation is that “you get the education system you could afford, and the level of human capital in the kids is mostly determined by the efficiency of the schooling system.” Is there any evidence to support this argument?


As a country with a long history of normal capitalist development, and with no regions enjoying particularly lucrative resource windfalls, it is not a surprise to see a close exponential correlation between my Human Capital Index (see methodology here) and Italy’s GDP (PPP, in US dollars) per capita (R2=0.7302).


Furthermore, when we note that one of the major outliers hosts the Italian capital, and remove it, the correlation becomes even more impressive (R2=0.8221), equaling that of the Capitalist Normal countries as a group. Removing the other major outlier, Apulia, and the Germanic South Tyrol, makes the correlation almost perfect (R2=0.9461).

Is there anything like that kind of correlation between public expenditure per pupil (which according to Italian statistics has an almost perfectly linear relationship to numbers of teachers per pupil, which is one of the best proxies we have for school quality) and academic results? Not at all. (R2=0.0544, linear)


This does not strictly prove anything, but it is a good argument for the relative lack of importance of funding levels towards academic success. There appear to be hard limits to the human capital money can buy. After all, Italy’s education system is highly centralized, with a difference of a mere 20% between the highest and lowest spending provinces on education (it is also well known that it is socio-culturally variegated to a much greater extent than your typical European country, which makes it a good laboratory for social science experiments). Nonetheless, they produce a wide range of outcomes; for instance, whereas the best-performing provinces like Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia get results similar to that of the Netherlands, the worst-performing ones like Calabria and Sicily have countries like Turkey and Bulgaria for company.

(A quick note about the outliers. The South Tyrol is a minor positive outlier; perhaps it can be explained by its Germanic background with its special discipline and technical skills culture. The big positive outlier, Lazio, isn’t a mystery; it hosts the capital Rome, and these regions always tend to have their GDP’s artificially boosted by the massive state presence in them. But most curious is Apulia, a massively negative outlier, which hugely outperforms all its Southern neighbors but remains one of the three poorest Italian provinces, its GDP (PPP) per capita comparable to Poland’s. Anyone have theories on why that is the case?)

Education is very important, being intricately connected with potential for productivity growth and increasing prosperity; it deserves a lot of funding, and optimizing reforms. But as Italy glaringly demonstrates, the potential for developing human capital is constrained by some combination of social, cultural, and ethnic factors; factors that can be partially mitigated but not overcome by throwing money at them. There are plenty of other examples to back this up. For instance, inner city schools in the US get a lot more in the way of funding than suburban ones – let alone average Chinese schools, which have been de-emphasized in the reform era. Nonetheless, the human capital generated in the latter two institutions far exceed that generated in the US inner city schools.

Next in this series: How to reconcile Israeli idiocy (as measured by the HCI) with Jewish intelligence (as measured by IQ tests, Nobel Prize winners, etc) – any preliminary theories?, and perhaps on how they also challenge some stereotypes about Georgians.

(Reprinted from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.