No exception

Re: The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences

One problem with Ron Unz’s new theory of Mongoloid fitness (i.e., that East Asians developed a novel genetic resistance to cognitively depressing environments), invoked to explain the “Asian Socio-Economic exception,” is that East Asians aren’t particularly exceptional when it comes to the relation between National IQs and socio-economics. Generally, the “socio-economic” explanation suffers from the following problems: National IQs predict growth rate not just wealth, national wealth is unable to explain the covariance between IQ and educational scores (so one has to problematically propose that wealth increases National IQ by acting through the g-nexus), the IQs of oil rich Middle Eastern nations are no greater than those of the poorer Greater Middle Eastern nations (the “Middle Eastern Socio-Economic exception”), and longitudinal studies show that National IQs are antecedent to national wealth. And there is, of course, the whole issue of the biological, ecological, and historic cognitive correlates of national IQ. (These correlates preclude a simple contemporaneous Wealth –> contemporaneous National IQ hypothesis for the obvious reasons that neither differences in contemporaneous wealth nor contemporaneous National IQ can induce differences in these evolutionary markers and that the correlation between these markers and National IQs is greater than that between National IQs and wealth or between these markers and Wealth. Right? — try creating a plausible path model yourself.)

The other problem, of course, is parsimony. It’s possible that Mongoloids evolved a unique genetic system which buffers their cognitive ability against environmental depressors. But a much simpler explanation is that they simply evolved higher IQs. With the former, you have to invoke between race gene x environment interactions — in the classic biometric sense, not the pseudo Turkheimer sense — which don’t exist within populations or, at least, have yet to be detected. In effect, you have to propose a dissimilarity in racial developmental processes, one which has not been found. With the latter, you can just call upon the garden variety within population factors to explain between population variance. Of course, proposing the latter, that there was increased selection of beneficial IQ alleles in the Northern Asian populations, might lead some to wonder if there was selection in other northern populations. And it’s appreciated that the point is to introduce the larger topic in a politically acceptable way.


The results support the thesis of Lynn and Vanhanen (2002, 2006) that the average IQ in the country is an important determinant of national prosperity. Countries with higher average IQ are not only wealthier, but there has been a trend – at least between 1975 and 2005 – for national wealth to become more congruent with IQ. The latter result is expected only if IQ is a cause for wealth differences between countries, rather than being only a consequence. Because the growth-promoting effect of IQ is stronger than that of education, IQ rather than exposure to formal education is the better measure of human capital. The IQ effect is of moderate magnitude. The correlation between IQ and economic growth in Table 2 suggests that approximately 23% of the between-country variation in economic growth can be attributed to IQ differences. (Meisenberg, 2012. National IQ and economic outcomes)

Easily testable is the suspicion of Brunner & Romain that the national G-factor and cognitive-ability levels are indicators of national prosperity. First, the correlations between cognitive and educational levels are higher (r¼.78) than between intelligence and wealth (r¼.63) or education and wealth (r¼.60). Second, the correlation between intelligence tests and student assessment tests (r¼.86) remains after partialing out GNP (rp¼.76). Third, the positive manifold still exists after partialing out GNP. The first unrotated factor explains 81.8% of the variance, factor loadings on the G-factor are still high (see Figure 4). Fourth, wealth, politics, and cognitive abilities load on different factors (Sternberg; see Table 1). Fifth, there are reciprocal causes between intelligence and wealth (as expected by Brunner & Romain) but longitudinal studies show stronger effects of cognitive ability on wealth than of wealth on intelligence (Rindermann, 2007b). A little bit odd is this assertion formulated by researchers in Luxembourg: Luxembourg has the highest level in GNP worldwide but to this day is not famous for very good results in tests of cognitive competence or other indicators for particularly high cognitive abilities. (The Big G-Factor of National Cognitive Ability)

One popular explanation of cognitive differences invokes wealth differences between nations that are assumed to result from external, passively incurred factors (terms of trade, history of colonialism). Wealth improves cognitive abilities mainly through better nutrition and better health service (e.g., Behrman et al., 2006; Lynn, 1990). But national wealth depends more on intelligence than vice versa (cross-lagged design: Rindermann, 2008b). The best example forpure effects of wealth are seen in countries that benefited from passively gained wealth (e.g., through oil resources in the Arab world). For instance, in PIRLS 2001 (reading literacy of 4th graders), oil-rich Kuwait reached 396 points; whereas European countries averaged 500 and even poor countries such as Morocco and Iran averaged 350 and 414points, respectively. The Kuwait result is too low for the confirmation of the wealth hypothesis. The same is true for TIMSS 2003 (mean of mathematics and science in 8th grade): Students in wealthy Saudi Arabia (SAS 5365) and Bahrain (SAS 5 420) were not notably superior to those from poor Morocco (SAS 5 392), Tunisia (SAS 5 407), Palestine (SAS 5 413), Lebanon (SAS 5 413), Iran (SAS 5 432), or Jordan (SAS 5 450). Pupils in the richest countries of the world had lower or similar results. (Rindermann and Ceci, 2009. Educational Policy and Country Outcomes in International Cognitive Competence Studies).

The second aim is to investigate the influence of education and cognitive abilities on GDP and vice versa at the end of the 20th century with a cross-lagged design, controlling for the usually most important variable for economic growth: economic freedom…
…The results reported here show that during the last third of the 20th century, education and cognitive abilities were more important for economic wealth than economic wealth was for education and cognitive abilities. This result is stable across the different national samples of education and ability and remains after adding additional factors like economic freedom. Intelligence is even more important for wealth than economic freedom (see also Weede, 2006)! (Rindermann, 2008. Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for the economic welfare of people

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6 Responses to No exception

  1. Kiwiguy says:

    Unz has made some comments on the vdare article (which I haven’t gotten round to reading).

  2. Ron Unz says:

    Well, here’s a question which I pointed out in my original article.

    If you examine the IQ test results of the 1920s, you’ll find nearly all the Southern and Eastern European immigrant groups had very low IQs, generally in the 80-85 range, while their mainstream-white classmates were scoring around 100. Obviously, this was due to some sort of environmental factor, since these days Greeks, Italians, Slavs, and Portuguese all seem to have IQs pretty close to average in America.

    However, during those same 1920s, most of the studies showed that Chinese-American and Japanese-American students had IQs very close to the white-mainstream average, despite their extreme poverty, rural lifestyle, or other factors of cultural deprivation.

    As I suggested, this difference might be due to some sort of cultural factor, but it also might be biological, given that the significantly lower mortality and morbidity of East Asians seems to be genetic.

    Consider also that most of the poorer and more rural European countries—Ireland, Greece, and Southern Italy being the clearest examples—tend to have very low IQs, while that’s never the case for East Asian countries, even when they were far poorer and more rural.

    The empirical pattern seems very clear and obvious, whether or not my speculative biological hypothesis is correct.

  3. justsayit says:

    Ron Unz, I think you might be on to something. I also think two other factors may be at work: East Asians’ willingness to adapt and information transfer from Europeans to East Asians. East Asians’ are more willing to adapt than other groups. This willingness to adapt gives them an advantage over other groups who don’t move as fast to adapt to different environments. Also, if you read about Marco Polo you will know that the Mongol leader Kublai Khan asked him for everything he knew and requested he bring back 100 Christians with knowledge of the Seven Arts (grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy). This pattern of information transfer from Europeans to East Asians has been a hallmark of white-yellow interaction. East Asians want information from Europeans to succeed and Europeans are willing to give it to them. Europeans are not as willing to share information to different European ethnicities because of direct competition.

  4. Pingback: Unz on Race/IQ: The Entire Series and Debate | Ron Unz – Writings and Perspectives

  5. Pingback: Race/IQ: The Entire Series and Debate | The American Conservative

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