Innovation
Clever Countries: Group intelligence - - a Hive Mind - - crucial to economic success compared with individual IQ
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Jun 16, 2011 - 1:54 AM

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Clever Countries: New research shows that group intelligence - a Hive Mind - is crucial to a nation's economic success and is far more important than individual IQ.

Garett Jones, author of the paper, National IQ and National Productivity: The Hive Mind Across Asia (pdf), which has been published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), says a recent line of research demonstrates that cognitive skills - - intelligence quotient scores, math skills, and the like - - have only a modest influence on individual wages, but are strongly correlated with national outcomes.

He asks if this is largely due to human capital spillovers? The paper argues that the answer is yes. It presents four different channels through which intelligence may matter more for nations than for individuals: (i) intelligence is associated with patience and hence higher savings rates; (ii) intelligence causes cooperation; (iii) higher group intelligence opens the door to using fragile, high-value production technologies; and (iv) intelligence is associated with supporting market-oriented policies.

The author says the abundant evidence from across ADB member countries which demonstrates that environmental improvements can raise cognitive skills, is reviewed.

Gender and race studies can be a minefield and in the early 1970s, London-based Professor Hans J├╝rgen Eysenck, who had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in Race, Intelligence and Education (in the US: The IQ Argument), linked genetics with IQ differences and identified the Irish, blacks and Poles, as having lower intelligence than other racial groups.

For its high IQ readership, the London tabloid, The Daily Mirror, headlined a story on Eysenck's work:'Irish not as brainy as Brits says Prof'.

Garett Jones' paper provided four channels, rooted in economic theory, through which intelligence could matter more for nations than for individuals.

These are: (i) capital channel, (ii) cooperation channel, (iii) complementarity channel, and (iv) Caplan channel. The author says for each of these channels, non-IQ factors may be important for explaining cross-country differences in productivity and institutions; the paper never claims otherwise. The paper claims that economists have almost entirely overlooked the evidence that persistent differences in national cognitive skills are likely to have impacts on the economy through these four channels.


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