I made a comment earlier that college students, and by inference college graduates, are not as intelligent as they used to be on average. I made that comment based on what I’d seen in the General Social Survey. What I had seen was a decline in average WORDSUM score over the years (WORDSUM being a variable which records how many correct responses individuals received on a vocab test). But I’ll lay out the data here.
I limited the sample to whites between the ages of 22-35. That way I get a snapshot of those who graduate from university in a particular time period, and I need to limit the sample because of the nature of my hypothesis as to why college students are less intelligent.
Below is a chart which shows the mean WORDSUM scores of those with college educations or higher, and those without college educations, with 95% confidence intervals on the bars.
As you can see, those without college educations don’t change much, but college graduates seem to be getting duller, on average. Why? I think it has to do with the fact that the less intelligent are going to college. We know that the number of college graduates has been increasing, at least until the most recent age cohort. Here are the trends in the GSS:
Now, let’s do a scatterplot of the mean WORDSUM score vs. % of those with college degrees. I had to omit some years in the case of the latter, since we had more data points for that.
As you can see, there’s a modest fit between the two trends. 40% of the variance in the WORDSUM score can be explained by % of college graduates. Perhaps there’s nothing to it, but I think there are strong theoretical grounds to expect this. As the proportion of Americans who go to college converges upon those who graduate from high school, universities will naturally begin to resemble private high schools.