The BPS Research Digest is reporting on a new article by Satoshi Kanozawa, who claims that the poor economic conditions and short life expectancy in many developing countries can be explained by low IQ.
The economic historian Richard Wilkinson has argued that economic inequality leads to shorter life expectancy because being at the bottom of the social pile puts people under prolonged stress. But Kanazawa rejects this hypothesis. He argues his data show that once population IQ is taken into account, a country’s average life expectancy is no longer related to economic development and inequality. Indeed, he found IQ was between seven and eight times more strongly related to life-expectancy than were measures of income inequality.
Since Kanazawa also argues that IQ is genetic, there seems to be little chance of escape from this cycle of poverty and death. Not having read the article, I can only point out that the logic appears to be a bit circular: wouldn’t the evidence which suggests that low IQ causes poverty also suggest that poverty causes low IQ? And what of the considerable evidence that IQ can be improved by education? What of the research suggesting that self-discipline is more important than IQ?
In Kanazawa’s favor, I should also point out that similar arguments can be made to contradict Wilkinson’s claim that low IQ is caused by poor economic conditions.