Saturday, June 27, 2015

Noah Smith — I.Q. and the Wealth of States

One of the simplest theories of human prosperity is the idea that societal wealth comes from an intelligent populace. Obviously this is true to some degree; if you went around and forced everyone in the country to take a bunch of brain-killing drugs, economic activity would definitely decline. The question is how much this currently matters on the margin.
Some people think it matters a lot. Richard Lynn, a British psychologist, wrote a book called I.Q. and the Wealth of Nations, suggesting that average population I.Q. drives differences in national wealth. Garett Jones of George Mason University is writing a book called Hive Mind that suggests much the same thing, asserting that there are production externalities associated with high I.Q. Motivated by this hypothesis, there is a line of research in development economics dedicated to finding interventions that boost population I.Q. 
Well, here is some new and relevant evidence. Eric A. Hanushek, Jens Ruhose, and Ludger Woessmann have a new NBER working paper in which they look at U.S. states.....
I.Q. and the Wealth of States
Noah Smith | Assistant Professor of Finance, Stony Brook University


Dan Lynch said...

"there is Something Else that is driving state income differences."

Is that really a mystery? Besides natural resources like oil and ports, obviously government has a lot to do with state income differences.

Dan Lynch said...

This ties into the OT:

"Kids born into the bottom 20 percent of households, for example, have a 12.9 percent chance of reaching the top 20 percent if they live in San Jose. That's about as high as it is in the highest mobility countries. But kids born in Charlotte only have a 4.4 percent chance of moving from the bottom to the top 20 percent. That's worse than any developed country we have numbers for."