this is a very old article. For a slightly different slant on this issue
richard lynn "IQ and the Wealth of Nations"
he looks at national iq scores gathered from a variety of sources and
correlates the scores with national wealth.

----- Original Message -----
From: "alypius skinner" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 3:34 AM
Subject: IQ, birthrates, and economic performance

> " not too many generations differential fertility could swamp the
> effects of anything else we may do about our economic standing in the
> world."
> IQ and falling birthrates
> R.J. Herrnstein
> The Atlantic, May 1989 v263 n5 p72(7)
> Bright, well-educated American women of all races are having fewer
> a phenomenon the author believes may affect national productivity and the
> gene pool
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> concern frequently from young men and women passing through Harvard-more
> than ever before in my three and a half decades here. And I hear about it
> conversations with my peers, frustrated by the slow accumulation of
> grandchildren. This concern is at least mildly ironic, coming, as it does,
> two decades after alarms about a "population explosion."
> Though populations in South America and Africa and the Indian subcontinent
> continue to grow at an alarming rate, the U.S. media direct their
> increasingly to labor shortages in industrial societies and to shrinking
> school populations in affluent American suburbs. Thinking people have
> and are talking, about the "birth dearth," as Ben Wattenberg named it in
> title of a recent book. Day-care and parental benefits, which will
> presumably increase the birth rate, earn approving mention in the
> of both political parties and in glossy annual reports of large companies.
> The concern about fertility also bubbles to the surface in artistic
> renderings of contemporary and future life-in light movies like Baby Boom
> and Three Men and a Baby, for example, about young women or men trying to
> reconcile careers and parenthood, and in serious novels, like Margaret
> Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, with its fantasy of a not-too-distant future in
> which the dwindling number of fertile women are made slaves to
> Low fertility, of course, is hardly a new worry. Some of its history,
> especially that in Europe since the middle of the nineteenth century, is
> well and compactly told by Michael Teitelbaum and Jay Winter in their book
> The Fear of Population Decline. Some French writers attributed the defeat
> their nation in the Franco-Prussian War, in 1871, to the slow French rate
> reproduction, as compared with that of fecund Germany. Fertility became a
> central issue in early-twentieth-century French politics. Besides being
> blamed for France's inability to field an army large enough to defeat the
> Germans and also have a functioning economy at home, low fertility was
> by various contemporary French commentators as the cause or the effect of
> "national degeneracy," a disease of the French spirit.
> Fiction echoed reality, as it does everywhere. In Emile Zola's novel
> Fecondite, written at the turn of the century, happiness and personal
> triumph came to a working-class couple with fifteen children and scores of
> grandchildren, rather than to various unappealing bourgeois, with their
> selfishly hedonistic but ultimately miserable lives, their Malthusian
> rhetoric bemoaning fecundity, and, above all, their small families. Zola
> one of the founding members of the National Alliance for the Growth of the
> French Population.
> In Great Britain, too, arguments about reproduction were part of the
> political landscape before and after the turn of the century. As in
> a disastrous and costly war heightened public alarm. But the British had
> been outfought in southern Africa, rather than outnumbered, by the Boers,
> even though the British eventually won the war. Considerations of the
> of the Boer War emphasized not so much the question of how many British
> soldiers but of how good they were. If the French worry about fertility
> characterized as mainly quantitative, the British worry was mainly
> qualitative.
> The worries went beyond the quantity and quality of armies. Teitelbaum and
> Winter describe a British preoccupation with the general "physical
> tion" of the population; with what was called the residuum, meaning urban
> unskilled workers; and with the "proliferation of the unfit" versus the
> underreproduction of the fit. Prime Minister Arthur Balfour worried
> in 1905 that the very members of the working class who showed the
> and ability to improve their lot were the ones who limited their own
> fertility, while those who did not get ahead bred beyond their capacity
> taking good care of their children. "Everything done towards opening up
> careers to the lower classes did something towards the degeneration of the
> race," he said.
> In our time, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, of Singapore, has said, "Levels
> competence will decline, our economy will falter, our administration will
> suffer, and society will decline" because so many educated men are failing
> to find educated women to marry and are instead marrying uneducated women
> remaining unmarried. But Lee is an exception, for few modern political
> leaders dare to talk in public about the qualitative aspect of low
> fertility. We know why this is, and it has less to do with whether or not
> have a fertility problem than with the unacceptability of talking about
> subject. In our century the Nazis made selective fertility an emblem of
> National Socialism, with malevolent consequences that need no review here.
> Hence even to mention fertility in relation to nation or race has become
> taboo.
> Nonetheless, human fertility, particularly in its qualitative aspect, has
> special and direct relation to economic productivity. A full study of
> fertility and productivity would, of course, cross many frontiers of
> scholarship, but my focus is narrower. My subject is differences among
> groups within the population: how these differences affect fertility and
> that, in the long run, may affect the society's economic well-being.
> because of our ghastly memories of the Nazis, many social theorists and
> scientists have for some time been reluctant to take such differences into
> account. Society, these social scientists say, must be studied at the
> of broad social forces, not at the level of small subpopulations. But
> however useful and illuminating the abstractions of social theory are, the
> actual life of a society must consist of myriad individual human actions.
> the present instance the social consequences of reproduction are
> by the study of individual differences, and the light it sheds spreads
> further than many realize.
> Population
> rates, the difference between the two rates determining the direction and
> size of population growth (if we set aside complications like migration
> age at reproduction). With the advent of industrialization, mortality
> fall. Since birth rates remain high, the first consequence of
> industrialization is a rise in population. This is what alarmed Thomas
> Malthus, who wrote at the end of the eighteenth century to warn of the
> tendency of populations to expand to the point of marginal subsistence.
> Malthus could not have known that in the next stage of this process of
> demographic transition, as it is known among demographers, the birth rate
> falls, largely or totally compensating for the fall in mortality rates.
> average number of live births per American woman, for example, fell from
> about eight in the 1700s to about two in the 1970s. The timing and size of
> the two components of the demographic transition-the fall in death rates
> the fall in birth rates-may vary from nation to nation, but the transition
> itself is as close to a demographic universal as social science has
> discovered.
> This purely quantitative aspect of the transition is quite well known,
> unlike the qualitative aspect, which may in the long run be no less
> significant socially. Robert Retherford, of the East-West Population
> Institute, in Honolulu, has examined dozens of empirical studies, from
> countries, of the demographic transition in relation to social status. The
> evidence shows that prior to the transition women of high status had
> fertility than those of low status. Among the possible reasons for this:
> high-status women usually enjoyed better health, they married earlier,
> because their spouses could afford to start families earlier in life, and
> they endured fewer and shorter separations from their spouses than
> low-status women did.
> After the transition the overall birth rate is lower, but now women of
> status usually have lower fertility than those of low status. Health and
> marital separation cease to be major factors in fertility, and because of
> the educational opportunities open to women of high status or high
> intelligence, their age at marriage rises above that for women who, for
> whatever reason, lack those opportunities. More-subtle changes, involving
> the social relation between men and women, may further depress fertility,
> especially at the upper end of the social and intellectual range.
> With only rare exceptions, according to the evidence that Retherford has
> assembled, the fall in fertility during the transition is thus not just a
> fall but also a redistribution. At first glance the demographic transition
> seems biologically perverse. Why do people limit their fertility just when
> improved conditions of life-as reflected in the reduced mortality
> allow them to raise more children successfully? And why should more
> limitation of fertility take place at high social-status levels than at
> Theorists have several hypotheses.
> Economic theorists have noted a simple economic fact about
> industrialization, one that may influence people's decisions about family
> size. Economic resources flow from children to parents before
> industrialization, and vice versa afterward. Another pair of hands on the
> farm is transformed, after the demographic transition, into another mouth
> feed or another tuition to pay. Industrialization and modernization may
> the economic balance toward small families, and do so at higher
> social-status levels more than at lower, if people calculate consequences
>  all rationally, as economists usually assume they do.
> Theorists with a more biological orientation have suggested that after
> industrialization people may focus more on the quality of offspring than
> the quantity. A few well-nurtured children may have been, at some point in
> our evolutionary history, a better long-term strategy for the survival of
> parental genes than many children at the brink of extinction. This means
> that those who have fewer children may, theoretically, have more
> grandchildren who reach reproductive age. Biologists theorize that from
> evolutionary pressures of such an era, if it existed, we may have
> behavioral dispositions that favor lower birth rates as conditions improve
> on the average-as they do in the transition to an industrialized society
> those who succeed in that society. Whether or not the reduced birth rate
> after industrialization is justified rationally is beside the point as far
> as this theory is concerned, for the inherited traits of an era arise from
> the selective processes of an earlier era.
> Another biological approach to the demographic transition looks at the
> differing pressures of parenthood on women and men. Females and males
> inevitably have different investments in offspring. Mothering is more
> depleting than fathering. For example, the number of ova per woman is
> limited, compared with the virtually unlimited number of sperm per man. A
> woman can have little more than one pregnancy a year; a man has no such
> limitation on his reproductive rate. Each of a woman's children represents
> greater fraction of her reproductive potential than does each of a man's.
> Because she invests more in each child, she is more vulnerable
> and perhaps psychologically, to anything that threatens an offspring.
> Because of this special vulnerability, the customary sexual division of
> labor-whether or not its origins are inherited-places on mothers a
> disproportionate share of the burdens of child-rearing.
> One difference between human beings and their close biological relatives
> that human intelligence has made salient the different stakes that women
> men have in parenthood. As human intelligence evolved, women came to
> understand more clearly than their simian ancestors the risks, pains, and
> obligations of motherhood, and how these contrasted with the consequences
> fatherhood. Women should therefore have come to prefer smaller numbers of
> children, and they have. They may want the first child or two as much as
> more than their spouses do, but in the aggregate women in most societies
> express a preference for a particular family size prefer small families,
> in few societies do they prefer large ones. Further, women who express a
> preference-suggesting that they feel they have a say in family size-tend
> have fewer children than those who, fatalistically, do not express any
> preference at all.
> No species can survive in the long run, however, if its female fertility
> falls below what demographers call the replacement rate: the number of
> children an average woman must have in order to maintain a constant number
> of women from generation to generation. Since our species continues to
> flourish, the tendency toward childlessness must, therefore, have been
> counteracted by evolution and by culture, during the hundreds of thousands
> of years since the dawning of human intelligence.
> One theory defended by a number of contemporary researchers holds that
> rates drop when a society modernizes if one of the corollary effects is to
> free women to any extent from the cultural pressures forcing them toward
> motherhood or keeping them subservient to men. If, for example, they
> less dependent on or less threatened by men, and more free to choose a
> of life, they will, if the theory is right, choose fewer children. They
> just say no.
> Inexpensive contraception should hasten the decrease in fertility as women
> are liberated, by separating the rewards of sexual activity from the costs
> of parenthood. Contemporary women may choose sex and reject motherhood, an
> option unavailable to women sexually oppressed and without access to birth
> control. The calls for the right to abortion come largely from these
> contemporary women. This theory implies a differential fall in fertility
> within a society. The number of offspring may decrease most among
> more-intelligent women, since they are most aware of the costs of
> motherhood, all of which are deferred from the moment of fertilization.
> comes first, the pains and costs of pregnancy and motherhood later. Much
> research suggests that the less intelligent people are, the less they are
> likely, on the average, to be influenced by the delayed consequences of
> their behavior. Women from the higher social strata-and more-intelligent
> women-are also likely to have fewer children because they are more likely
> find rewarding occupations other than, and competing with, motherhood.
> Societies that manage to keep women subjugated while industrializing
> according to this theory, avoid or reduce the qualitative effect of the
> demographic transition. Their women-especially their advantaged
> have more children relative to the historical norms of their society than
> comparable women in other industrialized societies.
> While all these theories about the failing birth rates of the demographic
> transition are probably right to some extent, the exceptions to the
> pattern are well explained by taking sex-role differences into account.
> relevance of women's rights to the demographic transition is exemplified
> the experience of Japan. Daniel Vining, a demographer, has summarized the
> evidence showing that educated, upper-class Japanese women did not bear
> fewer children than women lower on the social ladder as their country grew
> industrially after the Second World War, and they also did not enjoy as
> cultural and economic liberation as did women in modern societies
> Japan seems to have passed through the quantitative aspect of the
> without experiencing much of the qualitative, reducing fertility rates
> or less uniformly all along the social scale. In the Muslim nations as
> childbearing has not shifted disproportionately to women of lower strata,
> and in that culture, too, women have by Western standards remained
> oppressed.
> social strata for many reasons, among them the correlation between social
> status and socially important traits. Intelligence, as measured by
> intelligence tests, is one such trait. Because parents and children tend
> have comparable levels of measurable intelligence, the average
> of the population will decline across generations to the extent that
> reproduction shifts toward the lower end of the scale (assuming no other
> influence on the average level). This decline does not depend only on the
> genetic factor in intelligence, even though most contemporary researchers
> say that the genetic factor is large. Differential reproduction shifts a
> population toward the characteristics of the more prolific parents for all
> traits in which parents and children resemble each other, for whatever
> reason.
> Are brighter women, in fact, having fewer children than less bright women
> the United States? Except for the time of the (atypical) Baby Boom,
> fertility and tested intelligence have been negatively related in several
> national samples of Americans. The best, albeit still tentative, estimates
> imply about a one-point drop per generation over the population as a
> other things being equal. The decline would be larger in the black
> population than in the white, because black women show a steeper fertility
> differential in relation to IQ. Using historical estimates of overall
> American birth rates, Vining tentatively infers the equivalent of a
> four-to-five-point drop in IQ over the five or six generations spanning
> demographic transition in the United States, with only the Baby Boom
> generation's IQ not dropping. This may not seem like much, but the drop is
> large if we consider the "tails" of the distribution of intelligence and
> just its average. For example, a five-point drop in the average, if the
> distribution of scores has the "normal" (that is, the familiar bell-curve)
> shape, would result in almost a 60 percent reduction in the fraction of
> population with IQ scores over 130 and a comparable increase in the
> with IQ scores below 70. It may be the tails of the distribution, more
> the average, that we should be worrying about.
> The Japanese population has a higher average IQ than the American. In
> discussion this IQ differential is usually attributed to the superiority
> Japanese schools, but the difference is already present in the earliest
> years of primary school, and has grown in recent generations. The superior
> IQ scores of the Japanese population may be to some extent yet another
> consequence of the demographic transition, which, as noted above, has had
> less of a differential effect within Japan than it has had here.
> Productivity
> AN IQ POINT OR TWO ON THE AVERAGE SEEMS A SMALL price to pay for the other
> consequences of modernization, especially the liberation of women. So why
> should we care if the intelligence of our population is shifting downward?
> Can we not compensate in our schools for whatever small cost we are paying
> in lost intellectual ability? That is certainly a possibility, but most
> people who express that hopeful notion underestimate the cost we pay,
> economically and perhaps otherwise as well, for lost IQ points.
> As a rule of thumb, more-educated people in a modern society are more
> intelligent, as measured by standard tests, and vice versa-chiefly because
> societies usually invest educational resources in the people who make the
> best use of them, and that usually means the people with the high scores.
> Whether or not one approves of it, education and intelligence are thus
> correlated-but they are not identical. They can be pulled apart, at least
> bit, as a matter of public policy. During the Cultural Revolution in China
> centuries-old Chinese tradition of educational selection by objective
> was for a time abandoned. Closer to home, judges and legislatures in this
> country have been regulating or banning the use of objective tests for
> school placement and university admissions.
> Occupational success in modern societies is linked to education. For
> study after study has shown that people who do well in school are more
> likely also to do well socioeconomically. Therefore, one line of reasoning
> goes, the key to productivity and individual achievement is
> than individual traits that predict educational success.
> If that reasoning were sound, we would be in increasingly excellent shape,
> compared with the rest of the world. The United States has decisively left
> the competition behind in sending its population to school. From 1900 to
> present the proportion of the American population completing high school
> rose from 10 percent to over 70 percent. In the 1970s about half of all
> school graduates went to college. In the Soviet Union, in contrast, about
> percent of all high school graduates (who are a smaller fraction of the
> population to begin with than are graduates in the United States) went on
> the next level of education. Western European countries and Japan also
> short of the American standard, graduating fewer than 70 percent (in
> the Netherlands, and West Germany the number is fewer than 20 percent) of
> their high school students, and admitting far fewer of those graduates to
> college. Similarly, American schoolteachers have, on the average, more
> of post-secondary education than teachers anywhere else.
> Sending more people to school has no doubt produced benefits in the
> of American life, but instead of an educated populace, we find widespread
> illiteracy and its mathematical equivalent, innumeracy. Many Americans are
> going to school more but, apparently, learning less. Schools are being
> criticized for their lack of rigor, for failing to instill a love of
> learning; society as a whole is criticized for underpaying and
> underappreciating teachers. These criticisms may in time lead to
> improvement. For the present, however, the fact is that the expansion of
> schooling has not done the job we expected it to do, and its
> are evident not just in the classroom. While America has been sending more
> people to school, it has also been losing ground in the growth of worker
> productivity, compared with nations having less-schooled populations, such
> as Japan and West Germany. We now know, to our regret, that something more
> fundamental than schooling per se explains the historical role of
> as a ladder to economic success.
> Thanks to a remarkable series of studies by applied psychologists,
> especially John Hunter, Frank Schmidt, and their associates, we know quite
> lot about the predictors of individual occupational success in the United
> States. Overturning the conventional wisdom of several generations of
> experts, their analyses prove that variations in intelligence, as measured
> by IQ and IQ-like tests (such as the U.S. Employment Service's General
> Abilities Test Battery), predict job productivity to an extraordinary
> degree.
> Because job performance is correlated with intelligence, we now know not
> only that the productivity of the American work force as a whole, and
> particular occupations in given locations, can be improved by the use of
> intelligence tests for job placement, but also how much improvement is
> possible. For example, one analysis estimated that Philadelphia would lose
> $170 million in productivity over a ten-year period by not using an
> intelligence test when hiring recruits for the police department. Losses
> that are larger per person hired would be incurred by failing to test
> applicants for jobs demanding greater cognitive complexity, such as
> programming. For the American work force as a whole, after taking into
> account the number of people at all levels of intelligence, the
> differential between a labor force selected by intelligence tests and one
> selected at random from applicant pools was estimated to be worth a
> of $80 billion in 1980-about the size of the total annual corporate profit
> for the Fortune 500 in that year.
> When these new analytic methods are applied to thousands of separate
> of worker performance in relation to intelligence, certain broad
> generalizations follow. Intelligence tests predict performance (as
> by on-the-job trainability, objective measures of job proficiency, or
> supervisor ratings) in hundreds of common occupations. Performance in a
> requiring greater cognitive complexity, such as the job of manager, is
> strongly associated with intelligence than performance in one requiring
> less, such as that of sales clerk. But even for a job at the lowest level
> cognitive complexity, such as off-loading conveyor belts, intelligence has
> predictive power.
> The predictive validity of intelligence-test scores, expressed as a
> correlation coefficient between the score and some measure of job
> performance, seems to vary from about 0.2 to about 0.6 for individual
> occupations, and to average about 0.5 for the work force as a whole. If
> finding holds up, it is an astonishing result. It says that on the average
> about 25 percent of the variation in worker productivity can be accounted
> for by the scores on intelligence tests that can be administered in an
> or so.
> Performance in occupations demanding little cognitive complexity is
> best predicted by scores on tests of psychomotor skills (eye-hand
> coordination, simple reaction time, and so forth), rather than on tests of
> intellectual ability. Therefore the use, for hiring and promotion, of some
> combination of intelligence and psychomotor scores, suitably weighted for
> particular occupations, would predict job productivity even better than
> use of either or, obviously, the use of neither, which seems to be a fond
> hope of advocates of various causes.
> One study compared intelligence-test scores with ten other plausible
> predictors of productivity (job tryout, biographical inventory, reference
> check, experience, interview, training and experience ratings, academic
> achievement, education, interest, and age) of entry-level employees in a
> variety of occupations. All the variables except age had some predictive
> validity, but intelligence scores, with a validity coefficient of 0.53,
> the most. Near the bottom, with coefficients of 0.11 and 0.10, were
> achievement and education, respectively. For employees already on a job,
> intelligence scores predicted performance after promotion as well as, or
> better than, measures based on past performance.
> Educational level may be a better predictor than intelligence of
> occupational attainment in the United States, as many studies have shown,
> but for occupational performance, intelligence is the better predictor by
> far. Employers may use educational credentials to hire or promote their
> employees because they do not understand the power of, do not have
> available, or are simply reluctant to use measures of intelligence. But
> failure to use intelligence measures seems costly in terms of
> The evidence also shows that the distribution of intelligence matters in
> own right, and not just in relation to the effect of intelligence on
> in school.
> sending more people to school for more years seems to offer little benefit
> to economic performance, although doing so may be worthwhile for other
> reasons. At one time schooling was largely reserved for socioeconomically
> privileged people. Opening the schools to the rest of the population
> harvested a vast benefit, intellectually and economically, but we seem to
> have passed the point at which a large economic gain can be made by merely
> increasing access to schooling.
> The data suggest, however, that schools could be improved so as to develop
> the very intellectual skills that are so predictive of productivity, and
> perhaps to further other social purposes. Even the most confirmed believer
> in the genetic factor in intelligence knows that the environment
> significantly. Most such believers would probably also agree that schools
> can play a major role in developing intelligence. For schools to do so
> take new knowledge about cognitive development and a redirection of how
> go about their business. What is needed, in short, is more support for
> research on intellectual variation and development, and less political
> restraint on engaging in it and then applying its findings.
> Second, we should be conscious of how public policy interacts not just
> education but also with other influences on the intellectual quality of
> population, such as the differential in the fertility rates of women of
> different intelligence. Many things may be done short of the horrors of
> Handmaid's Tale. Nothing is more private than the decision to bear
> yet society has a vital interest in the aggregate effects of those
> decisions. This issue demands informed public consideration, and probably
> also public action to lessen the tension between parenthood and career. At
> the very least, we should stop telling bright young women that they make
> poor use of their lives by bearing and raising children, as commencement
> speakers and others have implied to educated women for decades.
> The competing ideals of equality and efficiency create a dilemma of long
> standing. For various reasons, the dilemma is keenly felt in America. The
> goal of efficient production competes with the goal of a more equal
> distribution of wealth. We can, we believe, gain greater equality with
> little or no cost in productive efficiency, especially by investing more
> education. But the data now tell us that economic efficiency depends on
> still intractable individual characteristics, given current methods of
> education. The individual characteristics run in families for reasons not
> easily overridden by social policy. Whatever else we may want to infer
> that fact, we ought to bear in mind that in not too many generations
> differential fertility could swamp the effects of anything else we may do
> about our economic standing in the world.

Reply via email to