Some years ago Heiner Rindermann and I hacked through a thicket of confounding correlations to argue that the brightest 5% of the population made a disproportionate contribution to national economies, indeed to national societies. The bottom 5% were associated with far less favourable outcomes. Rindermann made a new contribution to smart fraction theory by looking at the average IQ of the top 5% of the population (rather than the associated variable of how many were above the IQ cut-off) and using that in his analyses. Our headline finding was that each point of national average IQ raised GDP per capita by $229, but every extra IQ point for the brightest 5% raised GDP by $468.
So it is with some trepidation that I see a gang of Malaysians led by Nik Burhan piling in with their own work, employing standard models that consist of important control variables to measure how IQ affects well established determinants of technological achievement and national income.
Nik Ahmad, Sufian Burhan, Mohd Rosli Mohamad, Yohan Kurniawan, Abdul Halim Sidek The impact of low, average, and high IQ on economic growth and technological progress: Do all individuals contribute equally? Intelligence. Vol 46, in progress.
Have Heiner and I been out-modelled? To create a simulacrum of dramatic tension, I include a photo showing us debating our relative positions on the Greenwich meridian.
So, what have this gang come up with?
Consistent with the intellectual class theory advocated by Rindermann and Thompson (2011) and Rindermann et al. (2009), our research findings showed strong evidence that those people that have high IQ are the most relevant influence on economic development. Although our results suggested that all three examined IQ categories promote higher economic growth, the intellectual class has the highest impact followed by the mean ability and non-intellectual classifications. Similarly, the intellectual class also has a highly significant effect on generating technological progress, whereas the influence of the other two groups is immaterial.
Phew, that’s alright then. They add:
IQ in this study is represented by cognitive skills, in which the rise in the IQ level brings about more efficiencies, thus potentially producing a higher productivity with the same amount of resources (i.e., doing more with less). This justifies our finding that all three IQ classes have a significantly positive effect on economic growth, suggesting that the intelligence level is a fundamental component of all economic
activities, embracing both the high- and low-skilled labor forces, with the high-skilled labors having the largest impact on productivity.
In fact Heiner and I had always said that very bright individuals need other less bright individuals for their ideas to flourish. Some of Heiner’s papers are shown below, with links to our papers on Smart Fractions and on Cognitive Capitalism.
Rindermann, H. (2007). The g-factor of international cognitive ability comparisons: The homogeneity of results in PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS and IQtests across nations. European Journal of Personality, 21, 667–706.
Rindermann, H. (2012). Intellectual classes, technological progress and economic development: The rise of cognitive capitalism. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 108–113.
Rindermann, H., Sailer, S., & Thompson, J. (2009). The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability of politicians and average competence of peoples on social development. Talent Development & Excellence, 1, 3–25.
Rindermann, H., & Thompson, J. (2011). Cognitive capitalism: The effect of cognitive ability on wealth, as mediated through scientific achievement and economic freedom. Psychological Science, 22, 754–763.
As to policy implications, just take your pick, and do what you like. The brightest contribute most. They need other other bright helpers, and so on down. Speaking of his blindness, Milton sadly but piously observed: They also serve who only stand and wait.