The PISA 2018 report has detailed regional data for Canada, Spain, and Kazakhstan (as well as more limited regional data for eight other countries), which you can find on pp.255-260 of PISA 2018 Results (Volume I) [excel].
And here’s the data on which this is based:
One of the nice things about HBD is that there are few surprises that go against intuition, and the regional PISA results from Kazakhstan are no exception to this.
(1) One can immediately make out the correlation between this, and areas of concentrated European (primarily Russian) settlement:
(2) The PISA-adjusted IQ of Kazakhstan is around 85.4 (relative to OECD), which is almost a standard deviation lower than Russia’s and well in line with Grigoriev & Lynn’s estimate of 87.7 (relative to UK).
(3) Kazakhstan’s two capitals – the old Soviet era capital of Almaty with 2 million residents (90.2), and the new capital of Astana (now Nur-Sultan), with 1 million residents (90.3) – are both significantly above the Kazakhstani mean. Furthermore, the gap, at around 5 IQ points, is similar to that between Moscow/SPB and the Russian average.
(4) All the correlations – between IQ and shares of ethnic Russians and Kazakhs; between fertility rates and IQ; and between fertility rates and shares of ethnic Russians and Kazakhs – are exactly as one would expect.
|Correlations||Kazakhstan||Kazakhstan (no capitals)|
Incidentally, if one was to extrapolate the regression curve to 100% Kazakh or 100% Russian (no capitals), you’d get a Kazakh IQ of 78 and a Russian IQ of 103, respectively. Despite this method’s lack of rigor, this is still remarkably close to Grigoriev and Lynn’s estimates of a mean British IQ of 82.2 for Kazakhs and of 103.2 for Russians in Kazakhstan.
(5) Although these ethnic Kazakhs results might seem improbably low, do note that Kyrgyzstan came absolute bottom in PISA 2009, below even the two Indian states that participated in a 2010 follow-up study. The Kazakhs and Kyrgyz are very closely related peoples.
Ethnic Kazakhs are at least a full standard deviation below the cognitive profiles that are generally needed to build First World societies and economies with complex, value-adding O-Ring sectors. That said, likely thanks to natural resources, good technocratic leadership, and the European smart fraction, they have managed to prosper in relative terms, becoming much richer than any other Central Asian country (there are about a million Gastarbeiters in Kazakhstan itself from the rest of the region) and with GDP per capita coming close to Russian levels.
However, as I have also written in the past, ethnic Russian fertility is much lower than Kazakh, and many Russians continue to emigrate back to Russia (in polls, 2/3 of them say they want to emigrate). Thus, while ethnic Russians constitute half of 85+ year olds in Kazakhstan, thir share falls to just a bit more than 10% amongst children and teenagers. On the one hand, the ebbing of Russian demographics is good for Kazakh nation-building, since the prospect of North Kazakhstan reverting to South Siberia grows dimmer with every passing year. On the other hand, it also constitutes a decline in Kazakhstan’s smart fraction, and can be expected to have increasingly bad economic knock-on effects. Nor is adequate political leadership guaranteed. While PISA 2018 refers to “Astana”, the city was renamed to “Nur-Sultan” in March 2019. I had previously been under the impression that the Kazakhs were a bit above the personality cults typical of Central Asia, but this may have to be reconsidered.
Consequently, I don’t expect Kazakhstan to climb out of the middle-income trap in the foreseeable future.