Newsflash: wealthy people have higher IQs

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According to Dr. Bruce Charlton, working class people are underrepresented at elite universities because working class people have lower IQs than those from wealthier backgrounds, and not because of any bias against the working class.

The working classes have lower IQs than those from wealthier backgrounds and should not be expected to win places at top universities, an academic has claimed.

Bruce Charlton, reader in evolutionary psychiatry at Newcastle University, suggested that the low numbers of working-class students at elite universities was the “natural outcome” of IQ differences between classes.

Yahoo News – Working class ‘has lower IQ’

In other words, meritocracy works.

The U.K. government is not pleased.

The Government criticised Dr Charlton’s comments. Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: “These arguments have a definite tone of ‘people should know their place’.

The arguments don’t have a “tone” at all. They’re a factual analysis of the situation. Sometimes when you approach a problem scientifically, you get results that make people uncomfortable — that doesn’t mean that the uncomfortable feeling was the goal of the research.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “It should come as little surprise that people who enjoy a more privileged upbringing have a better start in life.

“It is up to all of us to ensure that not having access to the social and educational benefits that money provides is not a barrier to achieving one’s full potential.”

Erm, no it isn’t. The education of others is none of my concern. And I think Ms. Hunt is missing the point here in thinking that people have high IQs because they’re rich. Also consider that they could be rich because they have high IQs. Current research shows that IQ is between 40 and 80% based on genetics (i.e. independent of upbringing or education).


  1. says

    “The education of others is none of my concern.”

    I can understand the gut reaction that causes this sort of statement. However, a more educated population is in everyone’s best interest. When you look at the benefits to society I think the scale quickly tips to making it worthwhile to be interested in the education of others.

  2. JohnK says

    My first reaction was, “Duh, isn’t that obvious?” Sadly, for some, it’s not. Perhaps a better use of money would be to investigate why seemingly ‘intelligent’ people can’t believe in what is self-evidently true.

  3. C Smith says

    Actually Joe, it seems to be the complete opposite from my standpoint as far as a cost/benefit ratio.

    When you “invest” in education by stealing it from the taxpayers (aka evil rich) and give it to poor people for education you are taking money that would be used better in one place and switching it to an area with smaller potential return.

    Having a slightly higher average education doesn’t really do anything to make the world better for individuals, but the efforts of the best and brightest in our society often do improve our life. They invented the car, plane, figured how how to harness electricity, and pretty much every other modern convenience that improves your life.

  4. says

    “should not be expected to win places at top universities, an academic has claimed”? I would argue that academia, at least in the USA, is full of people who can’t compete in the market of private enterprise, and that is why they choose the academia. I don’t know about England but American universities are filled with ignorant and mediocre Ph.D.s.

  5. Mark S says

    Amen to that…apparently some cannot abide the truth, unless it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy.

  6. Mark S says

    College has to be the most overrated, overpriced thing on the planet. They have become diploma mills which rake in obscene amounts of money, allow anyone in who can beg, borrow, or steal enough to pay, and churn out graduates who often have liberal arts degrees and few if any marketable job skills. To me, it is reminiscent of what a high school diploma became a generation or so prior, which is to say largely meaningless. Yet people will
    mortgage the farm to send their kids there.
    In addition, they are steeped by their professors in the doctrine of diversity and polital correctness, as well as an elitist attitude. Better (and cheaper)to educate one’s self, by reading all points of view on issues, rather than that which has received the collegiate stamp of approval, by first being passed through the liberal left PC filter.

  7. Jim H. says

    IQ is built in, education is learned. Wealthy people have higher IQs, not because they are better educated, but because they are smarter to begin with. All men are not created equal where brains are concerned.

  8. Jim Baggett says

    NO SHIT! I’ve known this from time I attended kindergarten. The kids from well to do familys always excelled in their studies. It was an inspiration for me. I set my goals higher and achieved what I would consider a much better standard of living than that of my parents and kin.

    There are some in society that will always be subjects of the government because they are 3rd and 4th generation recipiants of the ‘system’. They believe it is ‘owed to them’. How sad.

  9. says

    Don’t you just love the liberals reaction? They are so upset that smart people have more money, they were sure it’s because wealthy people cheated and robbed the poor in order to get rich. As far as smarter being getting a better education, that used to be true in the past but with affirmative action most of the Ivy League Schools have lowered standards to make room for minorities despite them some of them having a lower IQ. Despite the schools they attend, smart people just get more out of their education whether it be from Harvard or Mississippi U.

  10. happy1ga says

    My husband and I are not from affluent backgrounds, merely middle class, but we are from families with high morals and values. We were both taught to do for yourself, not rely on others, especially government! We have both been able to do well with these values. Maybe it’s not monied backgrounds, but self-reliant ones?

  11. Mr. Right says

    The underlying reason why liberals are angered at obvious statements in this article is this: they are poor. They spend years and thousands of dollars in their “enlightned” liberal art summer camps. Then they graduate with no skills. I should file a complaint though. I have even noticed a degradation in their quality of education. They used to be somewhat amusing to talk to while they fold the clothes after I tried just tried them on.

  12. Maria says

    “The kids from well to do familys always excelled in their studies.”

    I went to a private school during my high school years and it was the richer students that were the dumbest, mainly because their wealth allowed them to get away with anything.

    I myself am in college getting my associates before I head off to vet school, and I have to say that I think it is asinine that I have to take courses that have absolutely nothing to do with my major. The maths and sciences should be far more emphasized.

  13. Jim Baker says

    So, do we need studies to figure out the obvious? This is why the poor and the victimized always vote for Dems. Robin Hood to the rescue, eh? I will now drink from my bottle of audacious hope, gulp.

  14. says

    I can understand the gut reaction that causes this sort of statement. However, a more educated population is in everyone’s best interest. When you look at the benefits to society I think the scale quickly tips to making it worthwhile to be interested in the education of others.

    It’s not a gut reaction at all. It’s cold and calculating. Yes, I agree that an educated population is in society’s best interest. But I’m not society. I’m an individual, and as such I act in my own self interest. It’s not in my self interest to spend my money educating other people… the return on that is so small it’s imperceptible. So it comes down to how much money I’m willing to spend to make an imperceptible difference in society. None. Of course I don’t have a choice — it’s taken from me by force.

  15. says

    The question here is NOT, “Who has ACCESS” to the better educations. The question is, “Who ABSORBS” the information better, and makes better use of it, while they are receiving the same education.

    If you have 30 students in a class, some of those students will learn, and will apply what they have learned, more effectively and efficiently. Those are the ones that are effective information processors.

    Others of that same classroom will be thinking it is a complete waste of time, and be dreaming of their favorite protest that they want to attend.

    It is not that the rich cheat, it is that they are, long term, more effective at utilizing their opportunities. If they don’t, they don’t become rich. It’s that simple.

    In life, you will have an incredibly small percentage of the people that are PRODUCERS. They are the ones that innovate, create, utilize, and process better than their peers.

    That small percentage of people are, for lack of a better word, “civilization”. If they weren’t there, we would still be crouched around a cave (no fire), eating dinosaur droppings (no spears, so we wouldn’t be having dinosaur steaks, either.)

    In other words, our life is enhanced GREATLY by the producers. In our affluence, we have allowed ourselves the luxury of non-producers. In a system without the wealth of the capitalist system, the non-producers would be living in squalor and a substandard subsistence…before they eventually starved to death because they wouldn’t work to feed themselves.

    Now, these same people that are lucky to be alive, living off of the public dole, are complaining that they don’t understand and comprehend properly…and it is NOT their fault.

    Cry me a river.

    But don’t punish the producers because you don’t have the IQ to understand that your very existence is at the largesse of the producers. You are living off the table scraps of greatness, don’t complain that you are not seated at the same table.

    That table is available to you, you just have to buy it, and put food on it. It won’t be given to you.

    Doctor Malthus was right. However, capitalism has created so much wealth that Dr. Malthus has been postponed…temporarily.

  16. mumble says

    why does iq have anything to do with rich people getting richer. It’s easy to turn 5 million into 10, it’s hard to turn 0 into anything other than 0.

  17. says

    I highly recommend reading Malcom Gladwell’s “None of the Above,” from the December 17 New Yorker. IQ tests measure many things — largely how “modern” your thinking is — but “intelligence” really isn’t high on the list. As he explains:

    The big gains…are largely in the category known as “similarities,” where you get questions such as “In what way are ‘dogs’ and ‘rabbits’ alike?” Today, we tend to give what, for the purposes of I.Q. tests, is the right answer: dogs and rabbits are both mammals. A nineteenth-century American would have said that “you use dogs to hunt rabbits.”

    He provides another great example:

    The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories.

    Anyhow, my point is that it may well be that high IQs don’t cause affluence, but affluence causes high IQs. Or, more likely still, they share a root cause. But I don’t know that it can necessarily be concluded that higher IQs cause wealth.

  18. celticwolf says

    I beg to differ. IQ tests themselves are mediocre and a poor standard by which to judge a person’s overall intelligence. Wealthy people are able to hire better teachers and/or send their children to better schools. They are also able to give their children more experiences in the real world, IE, taking them on trips to other lands amongst other cultures. Furthermore, wealthy people are often more educated themselves and often are able to impart at least some of this knowledge to their children from a very young age.

    I’m the farthest thing from wealthy, but I have an IQ that is borderline genius. My brother, who is also not wealthy, is even smarter than I am. Our parents were poor and their parents before them were poor, etc. We haven’t broken the ‘wealth’ boundary because we started off with a lot less than the rich and that hasn’t ended yet. Maybe someday it will, but it is a constant struggle to make it in a world where money makes all the difference. Perhaps the morons who believe that they are smarter because they have bigger bank accounts should reconsider their stance on this issue. Wealth doesn’t equal intelligence. Opportunity might, but not wealth. Period.

  19. celticwolf says

    Should have mentioned this before, but one case in point are people like Paris Hilton. Whether you love her or hate her, I don’t think anyone would consider her terribly bright, yet she seems to have enough money to do absolutely nothing productive with her life. She gets by on her name, her family’s wealth and on her looks.

    There is more to intelligence than having money.

  20. Wow says

    I’d like to know the IQ of the person who titled this article.

    Newsflash: wealthy people have higher IQs.

    This article neither says, implies or proves that wealthy people have higher IQs.

    In Regards to this question, there are numerous studies with conflicting conclusions. What would at first seem to make sense ( smarter people earn more) is not nearly as clear cut as we might expect.
    My real world observations bare this out. After meeting and conversing with a few of my wealthier neighbors, who live in a development where the average house in over 5000 S/f, I have determined that earning potential is not necessarily related to intelligence.
    Two of these people are contractors who could barely carry on a conversation and the third, who owns and runs an automation business, is a heck of a nice guy and certainly smart enough but definitely no Einstein.
    One of the wealthiest people in the world lives three miles from me. He is the largest land owner in Pa and is worth over 3 billion dollars if I remember correctly. He drives around in a 1998 Toyota SUV.
    He works 200 yards from my house, He arrives at 6am and leaves at 4PM every day. I’ve spoken with him a number of times. Nice guy but doesn’t seem any smarter than the average person I meet.

    Who knows, maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’m just smarter than most people I meet.;)

  21. JP says

    The article does not raise questions about what the I.Q test is really testing for. An intelligence quotient test can be biased, in that it only tests one’s math skills, or it only tests one’s english skills, even creativity, pattern recognition, myriad other ways that our fantastical human brain functions. It does not test itself, for example, the clarity of the question, all of which carry a heavy cultural bias, and could throw off perfectly bright students. Some test questions can even act as a language barrier to someone who is new to the country. Since those of low socio-economic status tend to be from other countries, they do not have the advantage that “rich white people” do, such as a grasp on the language, knowledge of american customs, or many other things that test creators overlook as “common sense” when writing these tests. It’s easy to generalize when looking at the numbers that “rich people are smarter, poor people are dumber”, but it’s really just an infantile attempt to turn gray into a black and white issue.

  22. Maria says

    Let’s assume for a minute that I.Q. is completely dependent on genes, that having unpleasant experiences, malnutrition, lack of early cognitive stimulation, and stress have no effect on brain development; let’s assume that having tutors, travel to remote places, technological advantages, and opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities have no impact on I.Q.

    Then I.Q. is a completely arbitrary, ascribed characteristic. It is the same as being born Black, or female.

    If this is the case, then people with higher I.Q.’s should not make any more money than people with lower I.Q.’s – They did nothing to earn their I.Q.

    And just for those who are thinking that people with higher I.Q.’s make the world better, Hittler had a very high I.Q.

    On the other hand, I rather have a hospital with NO doctors than with no cleaning people.

    • says

      If this is the case, then people with higher I.Q.’s should not make any more money than people with lower I.Q.’s – They did nothing to earn their I.Q.

      It’s not about earning it… obviously you don’t earn your DNA. It’s about what your skills are worth to someone else. You don’t hire someone just because they are intelligent… you hire them because they offer value to you (and if that intelligence is part of what provides value to you, so be it).