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2006 April 02 Sunday
Benthamite Libertarian Collectivists Wrong On Open Borders

Many economists find the idea of Open Borders and the free movement of labor appealing in part because they see the influx of poor immigrants as leading to a net increase in total utility which English philosopher Jeremy Bentham described as "the greatest happiness principle". Like the 20th century socialists and communists who pursued collectivist goals these modern day free market collectivsts are promoting policies which will backfire and harm the interests of both natives of Western developed countries and the vast bulk of the poor people in the world. I'm going to argue a few points here:

  • Low IQ immigrants will inevitably lower the living standards of higher IQ natives by lowering incomes, raising taxes, increasing labor market distorting racial preferences, raising crime, and lowering the quality of government.
  • Low IQ immigrants pull higher IQ people away from creative design, engineering, and science work.
  • Therefore one result of an influx of lower IQ immigrants will be to slow the rate of technological advances. This will delay technological advances which are the only hope for that half of humanity that have IQs below 90.
  • One obvious piece of evidence for my argument can be seen from the incomes and occupations of higher IQ people in lower IQ countries. High IQ people earn less on average if they live in low IQ countries. This suggests they are less productive in low IQ countries.
  • Another obvious piece of evidence is found in the steepness of the slope of lines in charts of national per capita GDP versus IQ. The slopes of graphs of per capita GDP versus IQ are even getting steeper with time. The steeper the slope the wronger the Benthamites. Steeper slopes mean lower IQ people lower the productivity of higher IQ people.
  • Higher IQ people have rights too and their well being should not be sacrificed by altruistic collectivist Benthamites.

First off, some basic observations: Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen have observed in their book IQ and the Wealth Of Nations that per capita GDP is strongly correlated with national average IQ (and this is a link to Phil Rushton's review) (also see Steve Sailer's review). This shouldn't be surprising. Higher intellectual ability enables greater feats of engineering, science, management, cooperation, and problem solving.

Building on this idea La Griffe du Lion proposed his Smart Fraction Theory of IQ and the Wealth of Nations and further refined this theory in his Smart Fraction Theory II: Why Asians Lag. Well, look at table 7 of the latter link, which is a graph of per capita GDP versus mean verbal IQ. I argue that table 7 demonstrates why the Benthamite Libertarian Collectivists are wrong - even for achieving the goals they want to achieve. In a nutshell: the steeper the slope of that curve the less it makes sense to mix lower IQ populations with higher IQ populations. Why? Total output and the rate of technological advance will be slowed by mixing higher and lower IQ populations.

I do not share the collectivist goals of the Benthamites and think they are sacrificing my own best interests (and, might I add, the interests of the vast majority of the American people) in the pursuit of their collectivist Benthamite utilitarianism. But so bent are they on their goals that they, like socialists and communists of the 20th century, haven't stopped to notice that their preferred policy prescriptions are counter-productive for their own goals.

Think higher IQ people are better off in lower IQ countries? That's basically the argument that Jane Galt (Megan McArdle in real life) and Bryan Caplan would have you believe. First Caplan:

Suppose we have an isolated society in which everyone is a genius. Let's call them the Brains. Who takes out the garbage? A Brain, obviously. Who does the farming? Again, Brains.

Now what happens if the geniuses come into contact with a society where everyone is of average intelligence at best? Let's call them the Brawns. If the Brains allow the Brawns to join their society, the average genetic quality of the Brains' society plummets. But everyone is better off as a result! Now the Brains can specialize in jobs that require high intelligence, and the Brawns can take over the menial labor. Total production goes up.

Megan is persuaded by this argument.

Make sense? One problem: Show me a country with a low average IQ where 125 IQ computer programmers or electrical engineers make more money than they do in the United States or Japan or Germany. Anyone? Anyone? Show me the low IQ country where smart people earn so much that European and American corporations can't skim off the smart cream with first world job offers. In low IQ countries the smart fraction is not making so much money that they do no want to leave. Now, you can point to elites that own 95% of Mexico or Brazil who are fat and happy. But right below the capitalists who own those countries there is a small layer of smart people who can be hired away for less than the average American techie makes.

Another obvious problem with this argument: Dumber people create needs for services which can only be provided by smarter people. How? Lots of ways: Picture 100 million 90 IQ people added to the US population. Caplan would expect this to be a boon to all concerned. But those 100 million 90 IQ people would need medical doctors. Great, right? After all, more smart people will make the high wages of doctors. Well, not so fast.

The Panglossian view is that dumb people will create demand for services provided by high IQ people and therefore benefit high IQ people. Wrong. First, the 90 IQ people won't be able to afford the medical care provided the doctors, lab technicians, drug company manufacturing facility engineers, hospital administrators, and the many other smart people who provide modern medical care. So that care will be paid for by taxpayers with higher IQs. Second, those smarter people who will be paid to deliver services in the medical industry to lower IQ people will get pulled away from jobs doing more productive work such as designing new energy sources, new cars, new manufacturing equipment designs, and so on. Lots of smarter people will be moved into positions to provide services using existing technologies rather than work to develop newer and better technologies. Those so diverted would otherwise have worked to develop new products for other smarter people who, absent the low IQ influx, would have been taxed less and would have therefore had more after-tax income to buy new products and services.

Taxes reduce incentives to work in paying jobs. The taxes on smarter people levied to pay for the needs and problems of an increasing number of dumber people will reduce the incentives for smarter people to work in industry. Smarter people therefore will do more do-it-yourself work rather than hiring specialists and manual laborers. So the average productivity of smarter people will drop.

Another problem with lower manual labor costs due to the influx of large numbers of low IQ people comes from the incentives in businesses. The short term effect on a single industry of lower labor costs will be to lower production costs of products. Economists of course like lower costs. But lower labor costs also reduce the incentive to develop technology that will increase the productivity of capital. Only increases in knowledge and capital productivity can raise living stanards. As Socrates said in Plato's Republic long before Ben Franklin strode this Earth:

" A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind". . ."let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention."

Cheap low IQ laborers reduce the necessity to develop new labor-saving technology. Why reduce the necessity to develop labor saving devices? This seems shortsighted folly. Steve Sailer points out how unionization drove up coal miner wages which gave coal mine owners incentives to develop technologies that automated much of a terrible job.

There used to be a huge number of coal miners and a huge number of fatalities, but United Mine Workers leader John L. Lewis led strikes to drive up wages so high that mine owners heavily mechanized the business. When warned that high wages would drive down the number of jobs, Lewis replied, good, it's a crummy job and if my guys make enough money to educate their kids won't have to work in the mines, we all win.

Why should anyone want to keep pulling in more low IQ people to keep wages down in lousy manual labor jobs?

Faced with more needs and demands from less bright populations governments will also shift money away from longer term goals such as medical research. The resources will get shifted toward shorter term goals such as the immediate provision of medical services and policing. So, for example, the United States government's budget for medical research is currently rising more slowly than the inflation rate while medical care spending by government is rising more rapidly than the inflation rate plus economic growth. This shifting of money pulls people away from research and development, thereby slowing the rate of advance of medicine and other fields.

The medical industry won't be the only set of occupations pulling in higher IQ people to deal with problems stemming from a growing portion of lower IQ people. The lower IQ commit crimes at much higher rates. So more people will get pulled into work as police (who pretty much need bachelor's degrees these days), detectives, prosecutors, judges, parole boards, prison administrators, and the like. Other occupations such as social workers will similarly experience a boom. So will teachers and school administrators (for a really lousy return on money spent I might add).

The myriad needs, demands, and costs generated by lower IQ people are one of the reason graphs of per capita GDP versus IQ are so steep. Lower IQ people create more problems for society. Resources spent dealing with those problems are resources diverted away from wealth creation and technological advance. Only technological advances and capital accumulation in the higher IQ countries can solve the problems of perpetual poverty and pathology in the lower IQ countries.

Take Caplan's argument to its logical conclusion. Imagine spreading the smartest people evenly across all the countries of the world. A smaller fraction of those smart people would manage to do science and engineering development. They'd live under governments that can't afford to fund much research. They'd spend time and money trying to avoid getting kidnapped. They'd spend more time defending themselves and their families against criminals. They'd find it harder to come into contact with other smarter people to collaborate.

For more on this issue see TangoMan's post on Jane Galt and Bryan Caplan's argument. In the discussion thread of that post I summarized my argument as follows: (this version has been slightly edited)

1) Lower income people do not earn enough money to pay for the work of smart people for medical care for example or for teachers or detectives or prosecutors. Smarter people have to pay taxes to fund smart people to provide services and otherwise deal with the dummies. Those taxes immediately lower living standards and also lead to decreases in the specialization of labor.

2) When the dummies flood in a larger number of existing smart people have to get shifted toward intellectually demanding occupations which provide services. Doctors are the primary example. Therefore fewer smart people are available to do engineering, scientific research, etc.

3) Smarter people in their own lives - regardless of whether they work in jobs that serve the dummies - have to exert more effort (e.g. hours spent commuting, money spent on private schools and time spent taking the kids to those schools) dealing with the consequences of having so many dummies around.

4) The lower cost of low IQ labor shifts smarter people toward managing that labor. People who spend time managing lots of cheap labor are people who are not spending time figuring out how to use capital to lower production costs.

5) Capital that costs slightly more to do a job than cheap imported labor can fall in cost in successive design generations. The initial higher cost is a temporary thing. Forcing the market to innovate to reduce the need for labor will raise living standards in the longer term.

In short, the Benthamite Libertarians are ignoring longer term effects and indirect effects of low IQ immigration. Their intellectually lazy happy-talk utopianism is doing real damage to both lower and higher IQ societies.

Update: Griffe has charted how a country which lets in a large low IQ population will decline.

"The slope of the line in Figure 2 is -0.7604, which gives us the Fourth Law. That is, each percentage point increase in the third-world immigrant population, will eventually cause the per capita GDP of a Western nation to drop by approximately 0.76 percent of its zero-immigrant value.

"As the third-world component of a Western nation builds, per capita GDP begins to drop. Ultimately, the Western nation will itself become part of the third world. Equation (5) traces its path to le tiers monde."

I do not want that future. Do you?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 02 01:17 AM  Immigration Economics


Comments
Russ said at April 2, 2006 1:42 PM:

The "latter link" is just a link to parapundit.com

John S Bolton said at April 2, 2006 4:17 PM:

The use of comparative advantage to suggest that per capita production will rise from immigration of those much lower in conceptual ability, is mendacious and contradictory. The proof of this, is that comparative advantage requires two specialized populations; but low IQ is not a specialization. A general laborer, handyman or subsistence worker in the unskilled category, is not a specialist. There is more to say on these points; but that's all i can say now.

Gary Glaucon said at April 2, 2006 5:54 PM:

The libertarian open border group is wrong on this issue because their principle; that people should be free to move, isn't taken in the context of a socialist state. The current immigration issue is nothing more than the world socialist and communist front organizations seeking new voters that will represent their interests and vote, once given citizenship. The wealthy who support this are short-sighted, greedy and believe that they are insulated.

Don't get bent over tacos, chinese food, colorful dress, etc. that are usually used to portray diversity. Get bent over the importation of politics that run contrary to freedom and the power that will be exerted by mass numbers.

If illegal immigrants are given a means to citizenship, and we continue to import the uneducated and give them citizenship, we are doomed.

John S Bolton said at April 2, 2006 6:12 PM:

Quite so; populations can be predicted to specialize in support of official aggression, especially when their suopport comes from this. The comparative advantage argument simply assumes that every population consists of net producers, but that is not the circumstance of any conceivable society. It is not axiomatic that populations cannot specialize in being net consumers. It is not honest to pretend that there cannot be specialization in aggression, fraudstering and parasitization.

RB said at April 2, 2006 6:23 PM:

Randall,
very interesting/informative post, & i happen to agree with you about the issue of low IQ in society.

1.]But, just for the sake of imagination, what would happen if instead of adding 100 million 90 IQ people to the US population, we added 100 million 130-150 IQ people instead? What sort of society do we get?

Or,
if we had a society composed of individuals whose IQ's all fell entirely within what we now classify as the "gifted" range? Happiest, most productive society to ever exist?

2.]Lets even imagine that most countries in the world were this way(had populations where most or all could be called gifted, had IQ's above 130).
What would this mean for innovation, competiveness, productivity, trans-national trade?


I can imagine all the pros for such a society, but would there be any cons? We know what having low IQ means for a society: only cons.

But, theoretically, & at the root of my curiousity, could there [ever] be *too many* brilliant & creative people in a society?

Randall Parker said at April 2, 2006 6:55 PM:

RB,

Potential downsides of a brilliant society:

1) Faster development of technologies before we could learn how to handle them safely.

2) Tendency of intellectuals to get caught up in intellectual fads (communism anyone?) that are dangerous.

There may be others. These are ones I can think of off the top of my head.

T. J. Madison said at April 2, 2006 7:00 PM:

The argument here ultimately is that dumb people are a threat to the Science. If this is true we should do more that keep dumb people out -- we should actively throw dumb people out.

arch said at April 2, 2006 7:08 PM:

Another drawback to importing too many smart people would be the displacement of the native elite class. This is what is happening in Australia with the Chinese, they are replacing the Anglo elite in business. This causes a lot of animosity towards the new elite if they can be identified as an ethnic group. That is why today, mass immigration is wrong no matter who comes over, it disrupts the balance too much.

John S Bolton said at April 2, 2006 7:33 PM:

Mass immigration implies low average IQ, at least for a populous country like America. Substitution effects are such that almost any capital fixed in production, can be substituted for by labor which is abundant and cheap enough. In Africa bicycle powered generators can take the place of some of the world's largest hydroelectric installations. Problems in the transmission of power, can mean that a huge productive process, which has more than a million times the labor productivity of its abovementioned substitute, can nevertheless be displaced.
Displacement of such capital by labor across the board, which is what is suggested in the brains invite brawns, comparative advantage scenario; would mean the reversal of technological progress in the world.
Almost every technology of superior productivity depends on the partition of the world into high and low wage regions.
The high wage countries are that way because of past investments which preceded the moves to higher wages, not because they decreed higher payscales.
Civilization must keep making progress at the high end, or fall back in unprecedented disaster.
If we're trying to take things backward, in order to accomodate the supposed comparative advantage of unskilled immigrants, we don't need engineers,and we don't need scientists or any new ideas related to production, other than how to move back towards older ways.

crush41 said at April 2, 2006 10:16 PM:

I suppose the libertarians are assuming that the size of the society would double with the addition of the Brawns, the logic being the Brawns can take over all the jobs the Brains are needlessly doing. Even if this is granted, it doesn't reveal any reason to choose Brawns instead of bringing in more Brains. The US, with it's standard of living as a chief competitive advantage, can definitely attract as many professional Brains as the putatively desirable number of Brawns.

But replacing Brawns with Brains while keeping the absolute population the same certainly does not provide any reason to think this would bring any benefit even without all the contingencies Randall laid out. A capitalistic society of Brains is still going to float the brainiest Brains to the top.

The libertarian argument has another glaring hole. A society of "Brains" where people with IQs of 125 are riding on a Defenbaugh truck picking up trash for forty hours a week is still going to benefit enormously from their intellectual capital. People do not stop producing once they leave work.

Look at parapundit for example. Randall's up against the wall with work-related projects he's being paid for that have to be cognitively draining, but he puts out insightful posts too.

Ditto his readers. If Invisible Scientist is a trashman, he's contributing by giving impetus to other readers or whatever the case may be. If the trashman was instead a guy with an IQ of 80, the trash would be picked up all the same (actually, sharper trashmen would need less supervision, miss work less often, and so forth), but the utilitarian productivity of the two is obviously not identical.

My hobbies include rpg epics released only in Japan. Sharp hobbyists program computer emulators and do translations so I can play. They don't get paid for it. Underutilized Brains write novels, build things, and design models that dullards employed in a similar position aren't going to do. I wonder what the correlation between IQ and physical health is (not just the conspicuous measure of accidents, but of things like body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc).

What would equity markets in Brain societies look like compared to hybrid ones? A more efficient allocation of capital would occur. How much would be saved in advertising, for example?

John S Bolton said at April 2, 2006 10:44 PM:

If comparative advantage were applicable as proposed, an even more effcient means of getting brains to match up with the largest possible number of brawns, as they called them; would be emigration of the brightest to places like Africa. For some reason, though, the ones who do this are called missionaries and aid workers, and not one of them appears to be in it for the money. Missionaries went to China, but native elites, feeling altogether threatened in a manner almost unheard of in the history of the world, took advantage of communism to hunt down and kill every last one of them, including women and children.
Risks of this kind do not deter missionaries and aid personnel; but the application of the theory predicts that we should see such a gusher of comparative advantage spurting forth, that the reception, and the recruitment of such missionaries of comparative advantage should be vastly better than it has ever been in any social circumstances; capitalism, or what you will.
Therefore, the prediction of the theory is shown to be altogether wrong
Suppose that you have a vocation to an island in a swamp in Africa, where live thousands of illiterate natives, inaccessible by road or boats drawing more than a canoe. On this island there is however, an oil well which has stabilized at one barrel a day. There are some pipes and equipment left, sufficient to make a sort of refinery. The theory would seem to predict that, if you are bright and knowledgeable enough to make gasoline, kerosene, and fertilizer stocks, and some fuel oil, and petroleum products of several other kinds; while taking the productivity of these processes down to 1/1000th of their top rates, you would be creating the comparative advantage matchup value, of brains with brawns.
Actually though, you would be using intelligence to take technology backwards, rediscovering the lowest productivity ways of doing things.
The application of the matchup theory, means use intelligence to get all labor into jobs of some kind, regardless of what happens to productivity. Send the best...

RB said at April 2, 2006 11:00 PM:

"Potential downsides of a brilliant society:
1)Faster development of technologies before we could learn how to handle them safely."

Oh, but the high IQ aren't accident prone, & they learn swiftly. They'd use the gadgets safely:)

As far as a tendency to dangerous intellectual fads, i doubt it. Modern intellectualism & faddishness don't really mix. High IQ men love to advance & challenge controversial ideas, so you'll never get the herd mentality.

Another interest of mine is how much *economic inequality* there would be in an all-brilliant society? Well, we know that most economic inequality in our present society is IQ-related.
With increasing automation & mechanization, you'll eventually need very few labor workers indeed, & those remaining laborers will be highly skilled. Everyone will be a "brain". And all the "brains" will be free to use their knowledge & creativity to advance innovation & productivity, increasing mechanization & ever-lessening the need for low-skilled labor. Eventually, all menial labor should be performed by these robots, eliminating all need for low-skilled labor. Innovation will successively turn robots into cheaper, & more productive robots. Clean, safe, efficient. All profits.
My question is: when tech advances to this stage, & all jobs are IQ+knowledge-intensive, & where robots do all of our manufacturing/construction/cleaning/maintainence, what happens with management & wages? How much economic *inequality* can we expect there to be? Would there even be billionaries in an all-brilliant society? You couldn't market dumb products to bright people. Is an all-brilliant society still a society where most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few hundred citizens, or is it a more economically equal society? No economic oligarchy as now? No poor people, & no need for services such as police, or facilities such as prisons? Is it a society with a majority of leisure time for it's citizenry?

Ah, but the singularity might be more relevant in this society, though.

Kenelm Digby said at April 3, 2006 4:07 AM:

Caplan's and Galt's theory would actually work if society chose to abandon the welfare state and tolerate the extremes of inequality in such nations as India.
The logical corollary to their position can be seen in the rickshaw pullers of Calcutta.It is cheaper to hire a man's labor to pull a rickshaw (which most White people find instinctively repugnant and degrading), than to pay for the capital cost of motorized transport.
A truly horrible society is the only logical and necessary result.
This is repugnant to the finer instincts of man (as expressed in Buddhism), and virtually only found in those of Northern European descent.

bob said at April 3, 2006 5:21 AM:

WWW.TOMTANCREDOFORPRESIDENT.BLOGSPOT.COM

Randall Parker said at April 3, 2006 6:07 AM:

Kenelm,

The influx of low IQ people raises the demand for welfare state. It grows, not shrinks.

Rickshaws are actually on the decline in Calcutta. For those who can afford it motorized transport is faster and easier to use.

But you are missing other costs of the low IQ people:

- Crime. Want a few times higher crime rate? Click thru on my crime links in this post.

- Dumber government. Dumber voters mean dumb campaigns and simple stupid choices.

- More conflict between ethnic groups. More racial preferences. Think Amy Chua's "market dominant minorities".

crush41,

Exactly right. Smarter people make smarter societies in all spheres of life. A smarter society would have popular mainstream entertainment enormously more sophisticated than the stupid crap on Telemundo.

Also, those 125 IQ people collecting trash will look for ways to automate the process. The 150 IQ people will want to automate that collection since salaries for trash collectors will be much higher in a high IQ society.

Ignacio said at April 3, 2006 6:49 AM:

Example: Operate space satellites.
Get Bowns to do the most repetitive and manual tasks, and ten years later they will still make the same stupid mistakes and endanger the operation.
Throw a Brain in, and he/she will get bored with the job and automate it 90% in the course of 1-2 years. Less mistakes, longer life of th entire operation, and more cost-effectiveness.

BTW, this is a real example.

Bob Badour said at April 3, 2006 8:36 AM:

I cannot believe anyone would spend any significant time considering the merits of the Brains/Brawns thought experiment. It is a farcically stupid straw man!

1. The straw man denies the normal distribution of intelligence. A world of geniuses will still be a world with a bell curve.
2. It suggests that geniuses would be stupid enough to spend much effort on garbage disposal and other overhead instead of inventing ingenius methods to eliminate the nuisance. Just because the environazi greens who force me to waste my time sorting garbage for no compensation have the upper hand right now doesn't mean better alternatives are impossible. It just means there are too many stupid people available to vote for environazis who frankly don't give a shit about the environment and care more about control.

susie said at April 3, 2006 8:59 AM:

As always, Nietszche has the most apt,pithy, and profound aphorisms. To paraphrase him (because I don't have my copy of "Genealogy of Morals" here): In a society with increasing numbers of the low, the high will become slaves of the low. This society will force the high into becoming nurses and caretakers.

RV said at April 3, 2006 2:56 PM:

"A world of geniuses will still be a world with a bell curve"

No doubt, but the spread of the bell curve will be such that *everyone* would be considered "gifted" by current standards.

Would a world of geniuses still be a world where the many work for the few - a world of corporate greed, cronyism, where the rich keep getting richer.


Roach said at April 3, 2006 4:37 PM:

There is a big sleight of hand in this debate. You're looking at net positive effect on the US. The extremists don't care if it hurts us so long as the universe of people in the whole world is helped. I wrote about this subject at length here:

http://www.affbrainwash.com/chrisroach/archives/020877.php

I said, in part, "something can be wealth-maximizing when the whole world is your measuring stick, but it can be wealth-reducing when the relevant community of interest is one’s existing society. This sleight of hand—looking at the whole world as the relevant group with which to maximize wealth—is common among advocates of open borders and economists. But political leaders should be concerned about the interests of one group over another. It’s the difference between being a bird's-eye economist looking at a given nation or the whole world and a CEO looking out for the interests of a single company. If it helps the market and puts you out of business or loses you money and you’re wearing your CEO/President hat, you deserve to be fired."

Randall Parker said at April 3, 2006 5:37 PM:

Roach,

I understand your argument. But I'm arguing that Open Borders are going to reduce the productiveness of the higher IQ workers so much that for the entire world there won't be a net gain. Look at graphs of per capita GDP versus IQ. The slope on those graphs is so steep that the net amount of wealth created would be lower if all the dummies could migrate to live near all the smarties.

RB said at April 3, 2006 10:12 PM:

"Of course, mechanization could, in many cases, also fill the labor needs of employers. In fact, there is evidence that by dramatically increasing the supply of less-skilled workers immigration may be retarding the adoption of labor-saving devices and techniques"____cis.org

Mechanization pays for itself, increases profits; immigrants don't pay for themselves and aren't as efficient as machines.

also, see this article at the nationalreview: http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/krikorian200401070923.asp

I'm just waiting for the day when i don't have to work, where machines work for me(domestic mechanization), & where i can thoroughly travel the world without having to worry about low IQ savages assaulting me. The utopian mix of techno-libertarianism & posthumanism. I'd pay anything to live this way tomorrow.

John S Bolton said at April 4, 2006 2:22 AM:

Also 'total production goes up' does not mean that per capita production goes up. If it did, there would be lots of occupations with zero or negative correlation of productivity with IQ. Economic success means raising per capita output.
When much labor is brought in via immigration, and remains available at the same low wages; this is a command to use it all, and to push productivity down from what it otherwise would have been.
We're told that 19th century societies had high population and per capita economic growth rates, in a few cases; but not what they would have done with lower population growth rates. Supply and demand does tell us, though. America had ~2% per capita growth in the 19th century. Some Asian countries have recently had 5,6,7,8% growth rates for decades, yet with stable populations.
In the laissez-faire era, it took a major gold strike in an unpopulous country to show per capita rates like that.

Dave said at April 4, 2006 7:55 AM:

RV: "Would a world of geniuses still be a world where the many work for the few - a world of corporate greed, cronyism, where the rich keep getting richer."

Perhaps you are right, maybe thats why the elites like large scale immigration so much, its easier for them to stay on top in such a world.

RB said at April 4, 2006 4:10 PM:

"perhaps you are right, maybe thats why the elites like large scale immigration so much, its easier for them to stay on top in such a world"

From Steve Sailer's article "How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve" jul, 18 2000: "Honest talk about IQ would expose some deeply personal inconsistencies among our most influential thinkers. Although the typical white intellectual claims he wants to censor discussion of IQ to shield black self-esteem, his sometimes-berserk reactions reveal that he finds it a peril to his own."

"Stifling discourse on intelligence differences allows the IQ upper class to quietly push its interests at the espense of the rest of society."

"Consider - the inordinate complexity of the tax system, law, government regulation. This allows a high IQ priesthood of lawyers, accountants and consultants to extract handsome sums from the average citizen in return for interpreting these inscrutable instructions."

Well, in an all-brilliant society, everyone would understand these things(the complexities Sailer speaks of), so that high IQ "priesthood" couldn't profit from common stupidity.

"-the nonstop propagandizing that anyone who doesn't attend college is doomed. Yet there is very little evidence that college education adds much to earning power - other than by using the SAT to sort high school seniors into IQ strata for the convenience of corporations banned by civil rights law from giving IQ-type tests themselves."

Note, GNXP & Parapundit types aren't the sort who'd like to stifle discussion of these issues. But, based on these sorts of comments on high IQ elites(corporate types), i wonder a bit about the nature of a hypothetical all-brilliant society. If some people are too greedy, my techno-utopian dream might not even be possible.

RB said at April 4, 2006 4:17 PM:

Maybe corporate million/billionaire types secretly despise those social & research scientists who are publicly exposing the truth about IQ, academic & economic success, etc,? I dunno.

Bob Badour said at April 4, 2006 5:05 PM:

RB,

While most accountants and lawyers I have met certainly have above-average IQ and some are truly brilliant, I do not consider these professions all that intelligent. Most geniuses would pay an accountant to avoid the tedium. In an all-brains society, the accountants and lawyers would occupy low rungs.

Garett Jones said at April 7, 2006 8:34 AM:

I think there's a key channel that helps explain why a higher National Average IQ is good for a nation's economy: Capital accumulation. The higher-IQ country is just a little more productive, which means it produces just a little more capital, which means that over the course of decades, the higher-IQ country winds up with a much, much bigger capital stock than the lower-IQ country. Small differences at the micro level build up to massive differences at the cross-country level.

I formalize that idea in this paper: www.siue.edu/~garjone/naive.pdf

Here, I showed that the relationship between National Average IQ and economic performance isn't just a fluke. It sticks around even after you run thousands of regressions controlling for the most robust growth factors: www.siue.edu/~garjone/JonesSchneApr.pdf (forthcoming, Journal of Economic Growth)

It sure would be great if other economists would start writing papers--empirical and theoretical--on why IQ explains most of the income inequality we see between countries. It's a rich topic for research, with lots of data waiting for a good quantitative economist to come along and explain it all....

Oh, and Lynn and Vanhanen are expanding their global IQ database later this year.......Something to look forward to.......

Mr. Econotarian said at April 7, 2006 10:24 AM:

If we could ignore the rest of the world, that would be possible, but unfortunately (9/11, Iranian nukes, drug war, illegal immigration) this is really not possible. A poor world is a dangerous world for the U.S.

Immigration to the U.S. moves people from less productive work to more productive work, plus their children are likely to have a higher IQ if born in the U.S. because of improved nutrition and educational possibilities, plus they will have less children in the U.S. because of the higher investment in children here (within a generation or two, they'll only be having 1.8 kids per family like the rest of the U.S.) Besides, should genetic IQ-boosting technology come along, it will be easier for them to get it here than if they are dirt poor in the middle of a dirt poor country.

Does immigration reduce the potential for automation? Slightly, but if you get cheap enough robots even the immigrants won't be able to compete anyway. Until then, the immigrants can definately free up time for more skilled workers (I just had some legal immigrants painting the walls in my house, something my father had to take time out to do).

There is a political risk from immigration, but if U.S. leaders were more economically honest about things and could communicate those economic concepts I think we'd be OK. Unfortunately, today's leadership which is theoretically "economically conservative" isn't and they are incapable of putting out any message.

Bob Badour said at April 7, 2006 12:15 PM:

"Immigration to the U.S. moves people from less productive work to more productive work"
"within a generation or two, they'll only be having 1.8 kids per family like the rest of the U.S."

Do you have any empirical evidence to support the above remarkable assertions?


"There is a political risk from immigration, but if ... I think we'd be OK."

I fail to see how political honesty would make a majority underclass any less likely to vote themselves the spoils of their numerical superiority.

Karl Smith said at April 7, 2006 7:22 PM:

I am guessing this is off putting for this crowd (followed the link from marginalrevolution.com) but have you considered that the causation likely runs the other way. Wealth --> High IQ. It seems fairly clear that wealth is highly correlated with pre-natal care which is a strong factor in determining IQ. Also, protein intake durring the early years.

This seems likely because the average IQ on an unadjusted scale has been rising over time. Given the low fertility rates of high IQ people it is difficult to explain this without some envrionmental factors pushing on IQ.

Randall Parker said at April 7, 2006 7:56 PM:

Mr. Econotarian,

You claim:

If we could ignore the rest of the world, that would be possible, but unfortunately (9/11, Iranian nukes, drug war, illegal immigration) this is really not possible. A poor world is a dangerous world for the U.S.

But the Mexicans we are letting in are not the Muslims that attacked us on 9/11. Those countries that have let in Muslims are getting trains and busses blown up and movie makers gunned down among other bad stuff.

The argument that poverty causes terrorism is dubious.

Karl Smith,

No, the causation clearly runs from IQ to wealth. How else to explain Chinese IQs? Or how to explain the failure of immigrant groups to the US to fail to experience IQ rises in descendant generations?

Africa is an exception. The environment there is so bad it drives black IQs down to an average of 67. But blacks in Western nations are still far below whites. Black Americans average 85 IQ and that is with the help of some white genetic admixture. Blacks in Africa would probably rise ot 80 IQ if the disease and malnutriton problems were solved.

Scott said at April 7, 2006 9:16 PM:

Hmm, this sounds similar to the eugenics discussion a century ago. Should we advocate sterilization of low IQ citizens as well?

Maybe my IQ isn't high enough to grasp the concepts here, but these are some questions that come to my mind. Some of these might be addressed in the comments, I haven't made my way through all of them yet.

How many of the problems assigned to low IQ people, such as inability to pay for medical services, increased crime, etc., have more to do with them having lower incomes rather than simply having a lower IQ. In a utopian world where everyone has a high IQ, there's no way everyone earn above average wages.

How does spending countless hours developing labour saving devices build capital if it's cheaper to hire someone else to do it? If a high IQ individual has to spend years developing a labour saving device doesn't that take him/her away from something else? Aren't we always hearing reports about the dangers of outsourcing and cheap labour affecting U.S. manufacturing. Wouldn't that always be the case, or would IQ Utopia be a closed society that doesn't trade with other countries?

Scott said at April 7, 2006 9:22 PM:

Also, curious to know where the IQ cut off would be. Wouldn't those with an IQ of 130 complain about those with "only" an IQ of 120, and those with an IQ of 140 envision how much better society would be with the 130'ers that are free riding off their intelligence?

Karl Smith said at April 8, 2006 7:54 AM:

For more on this issue see TangoMan's post on Jane Galt and Bryan Caplan's argument. In the discussion thread of that post I summarized my argument as follows: (this version has been slightly edited)

I actually think you have a valid point here. There may be economies of scale in intellectualism. Now I don't know that IQ is the right measure here. There are many smart people at the Wharton school who don't really care about science, engineering or research in general. They just want to use their brains to make a lot of money. Usually that involves directing the work of "dummies"

But, yes there may be economies of scale in clumping together people with both the ability and inclination to do research. However, I think your reference frame may be off. Northern California brings together a lot of high IQ, high intellectual interest people and they produce a lot of innovation. It doesn't matter what the rest of the US is doing so long as those clusters exist.

Here in RTP it seems that a similiar cluster is forming as well. It certainly produces returns but it doesn't matter that just 50 miles outside of the Triangle intellectualism and education levels drop off. Most knowledge workers rarely venture out there anyway.

Randall Parker said at April 8, 2006 10:32 AM:

Karl Smith,

Those people outside of RTP have doctors, dentists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, teachers, school administrators, and lots of other higher IQ people serving or dealing with them in a large variety of capacities. Those people who serve them (many paid for by taxes from higher IQ and higher income workers) are pulled away from working in places like RTP and pulled away from wealth creating jobs.

As for directing the work of dummies: It takes more constant attention the lower their IQs get. 100 IQ people take more attention than 110 IQ people. 90 IQ people take more attention than 100 IQ people. 80 IQ people require even more attention. Also, some manual labor tasks can't be delegated to lower IQ people because they require too much thought.

Then there's the political problem I alluded to: The lower the average IQ the dumber the voter and the worse the politicians that will get elected.

Bob Badour said at April 8, 2006 3:48 PM:

Scott,

I am not sure how you got from immigration to forced sterilization. The bottom line is: Why does it make sense for the US to import massive numbers of people who are a net drain on society and who lower the standards of living of the current population?

Arisian Epiphany said at April 8, 2006 5:32 PM:

There seems to be one key factor that is forgotten here: High IQ may not necessarily correlate to High Principles or Nobility of Character, or just generally not being an exploitative individual who will use their much vaunted superior intellect to shaft everyone around them.

If we truly did live in a real meritocracy, where everyone was at the position that their natural abilities suited them for, then surely there would be so much despair at the lower levels of society that the people habituating that milieu (and I count myself as quite possibly being among them), would simply give up living because there would be no point in continuing.

The only way to forestal such a humn tragedy would be to hold out the promise or at least the hope, that through hard work, application and use of innate ability, it would somehow be possible to ascend the social hierarchy and to make something better of your life. Either that, or there would need to be an unending round of low-brow distraction in the form of 'entertainment', a raft of unnecessary and worthless geegaws, gadgets and superfluous 'fashion wear' etc, or a mechanism of both legal (alcohol) or illegal (street drugs) intoxication, just so that people could get themselves through what would doubtless be a rather miserable existence.

In a true meritocracy, in which every man, woman and child occupied the position for whch their abilities suited them and could therefore have no social mobility, the only other alternative to progression through merit would be the faint hope of winning a national lottery, or some other equally implausible event happening.

Seems to me we have much of the above already ...

Randall Parker said at April 8, 2006 5:50 PM:

Arisian Epiphany,

Lower IQ people commit a large range of crimes at a higher rate than higher IQ people. Granted, there are great lower IQ people and terrible higher IQ people. However, on average you are a whole lot safer living among those who have higher IQs.

See this graph or the same graph here for a table that shows crime rates for whites as a function of IQ.

mike said at June 16, 2006 12:09 AM:

I think the argument in favour of skilled, or educated immigration is stronger than the argument in favour of low skilled immigration. The U.S is mad not to curtail mass immigration from Mexico. However, as Parker points out, even large scale immigration of high iq groups can be unbalancing. I come from New Zealand, where immigration from East Asia is on the rise. So far East Asian immigration has generally been positive, with Asians injecting money into the local economy, building houses and boosting the demand for construction labour. However, Asians are not creating any new industries to compensate for the effects they are having on property prices, traffic congestion e.t.c. The economy still basically relies on tourism, agriculture and energy intensive processing industries which don't need lots of high iq urban Asians. More Asian immigration will simply use up land, resources e.t.c which the countries farmers, manufacturers e.t.c need as productive capital to convert into goods to pay for the nations manufactured imports. Many of the Polynesian immigrants that arrived to work in factories in the 1970s are now unemployed. N.Z, like all developed countries is suffering from deindustrialisation so it needs high immigration like a hole in the head.
I also have a strong suspicion that the decline of Western manufacturing is strongly correlated with high non white immigration. For example the uk car industry collapsed around the same time large numbers of Black/Indian immigrants moved into Birmingham, the centre of uk engineering; conversely the monocultural Japanese, Korean and Czech car industries are doing fine.

John Hobitakis said at October 10, 2007 2:49 PM:

Just because the streets are wet it does not mean that it is raining. This is the form of logic that this article has concluded. You should ask this question, does the GDP increase or decrease when low IQ people enter a country that has a higher IQ. The fact is that with a wealfare state economy, such as usa's, the GDP will decrease becasue they take more out of taxes then they put it. Higher IQ people have to be charged more taxes to cover the lower IQ people, As we all know higher taxes reduces reinvestment of money so this slows down the economy. If our Economy was not a welfare state and was a true free market (such as the one that libertarians argue for) then low IQ people would increase GDP because they would compliment the higher IQ workers. They would produce more for the economy then what they would take from taxes, so the GDP would have a net gain.
Thank you, John the Economist ;)

$_does_not_equal_IQ said at July 10, 2010 6:50 PM:

Oh, come on people....As a person with an average fluctuating IQ of 120-145 born of low socioeconomic status I know this is a bunch of diatribe aimed at justifying the neoliberal/conservative agenda of the world economic elites. Yes, many of societies problems are caused by idiocy as that state of being allows the perpetuation of the afromentioned groups false authority. However, we must not forget that malignat narcissism effects people of all groups around the world. One of my greatest personal hardships is my constant struggle with idiots of higher socioeconomic status attempting to subjugate me to their delsuions. Their justification to their supiority is their socioeconomic class...That is like me saying that I am smart because I am smart or I have authority because I have authority. Since when is circular logic an accecptible reason?

The tacit assumption that IQ is directly correlated with socioeconomic status is plain retarded (I.E. They are rich, therefore they are of high IQ). Merely observing the reality in which we live with open eyes and clear lenses contradicts this weak assertion. At best, high socioeconomic status is moderatly correlated with high IQ. How can a person who promotes the dogma's of religion be thought of as intelligent if they are not sociopaths? By sociopath, I would assert that they are good at manipulating dumb people with falsehoods and have no moral quandaries with stunting the growth of those who might grow to compete with them through means of governmental authority and/or social manipulation. To make sure we understand what I mean by sociopath, I mean that such a mind knows that they are using B.S. to get what they want from others. It does not mean someone who hurts others feelings by telling them their belief(s) and/or practice(s) is/are dumb and/or counterproductive to the further improvement of the lives of as many individuals as possible. Bernie Madoff, Pat Robinson, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ron Hubbard, George Bush, and Bill Clinton to name a few are good examples of people who would probably qualify as sociopaths according to the way that I am using the term.

Additionally, I need Brawn to push things around for me and clean the floors. I suggest all you anti-immigrant folk get of your lazy butts and pick them strawberries as they will not pick themselves and cannot be bred to do soAnyways, the many of the arguments on this board about IQ are making the assumptions that it is a static state when it is not. Given access to the proper facilities, many idiots can make some gains in their IQ. Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow. In fact, many should be compelled to grow as they will usually accecpt it once they understand it will be to their benefit as well as to others.

Welfare generally, but not necessarily, exists because someone takes more then they deserve due to their psychiatric state of malignant narcissism or cronically low IQ. Squalor is not a reasonable state by most standards, even the intellectually disadvantaged. To be honest, I am not sure what we should do with those who we would reasonably determine to be insane aside from sterilization and reasonable institutionalization. Though, honestly, Im unconfortable with the concept as authority has historically tended to deem its opponents as insane, however I have no quelms with making the determination my self. Heck, Id deem some highly functional people of what is considered high IQ as worthy of institutionalization like the previously mentioned classification of malignant narcissist if it was emperically varifiable that they knew what they were doing. Using falsehoods to manipulate the dumb is a crime against humanity.

The comment about IQ and crime is misleading as a genius is just not very likely to get caught. I can testify to that.

$_does_not_equal_IQ said at July 10, 2010 6:52 PM:

Oh, come on people....As a person with an average fluctuating IQ of 120-145 born of low socioeconomic status I know this is a bunch of diatribe aimed at justifying the neoliberal/conservative agenda of the world economic elites. Yes, many of societies problems are caused by idiocy as that state of being allows the perpetuation of the afromentioned groups false authority. However, we must not forget that malignat narcissism effects people of all groups around the world. One of my greatest personal hardships is my constant struggle with idiots of higher socioeconomic status attempting to subjugate me to their delsuions. Their justification to their supiority is their socioeconomic class...That is like me saying that I am smart because I am smart or I have authority because I have authority. Since when is circular logic an accecptible reason?

The tacit assumption that IQ is directly correlated with socioeconomic status is plain retarded (I.E. They are rich, therefore they are of high IQ). Merely observing the reality in which we live with open eyes and clear lenses contradicts this weak assertion. At best, high socioeconomic status is moderatly correlated with high IQ. How can a person who promotes the dogma's of religion be thought of as intelligent if they are not sociopaths? By sociopath, I would assert that they are good at manipulating dumb people with falsehoods and have no moral quandaries with stunting the growth of those who might grow to compete with them through means of governmental authority and/or social manipulation. To make sure we understand what I mean by sociopath, I mean that such a mind knows that they are using B.S. to get what they want from others. It does not mean someone who hurts others feelings by telling them their belief(s) and/or practice(s) is/are dumb and/or counterproductive to the further improvement of the lives of as many individuals as possible. Bernie Madoff, Pat Robinson, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ron Hubbard, George Bush, and Bill Clinton to name a few are good examples of people who would probably qualify as sociopaths according to the way that I am using the term.

Additionally, I need Brawn to push things around for me and clean the floors. I suggest all you anti-immigrant folk get of your lazy butts and pick them strawberries as they will not pick themselves and cannot be bred to do soAnyways, the many of the arguments on this board about IQ are making the assumptions that it is a static state when it is not. Given access to the proper facilities, many idiots can make some gains in their IQ. Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow. In fact, many should be compelled to grow as they will usually accecpt it once they understand it will be to their benefit as well as to others.

Welfare generally, but not necessarily, exists because someone takes more then they deserve due to their psychiatric state of malignant narcissism or cronically low IQ. Squalor is not a reasonable state by most standards, even the intellectually disadvantaged. To be honest, I am not sure what we should do with those who we would reasonably determine to be insane aside from sterilization and reasonable institutionalization. Though, honestly, Im unconfortable with the concept as authority has historically tended to deem its opponents as insane, however I have no quelms with making the determination my self. Heck, Id deem some highly functional people of what is considered high IQ as worthy of institutionalization like the previously mentioned classification of malignant narcissist if it was emperically varifiable that they knew what they were doing. Using falsehoods to manipulate the dumb is a crime against humanity.

The comment about IQ and crime is misleading as a genius is just not very likely to get caught. I can testify to that.

no i don't said at July 11, 2010 3:17 PM:

Thank you $_does_not_equal_IQ,

Nobody here could've said it better thatn $_does_not_equal_IQ. You make an excellent point when you mention malignant narcissism. I've been trying for months, but so far haven't gotten through this racist oversimplified mentality from many in this blog.

Somebody finally has the guts and intelligence to say it like it is.

Cheers $_does_not_equal_IQ.

no i don't said at July 11, 2010 3:54 PM:

An intelligent person might not necessarily be a person of reason.

Intelligence has to do with the mental capacity to better survive in a particular environment, like the ability to manipulate and convince others.

Rationality has to do with the mental capacity to come to objective logical truth and reason.

Most people still love to talk about high IQs and get impressed by the big ones. I have personally never taken my IQ test but I prefer to be a person of reason and logic than a high IQer, whatever goddamned score I could achieve; who cares! I start by trying to avoid dogmatism, narcissism, necrofilia, superiority and inferiority complexes, double morals and of course, the mcdonald's menu in my diet.

Now the ability to make money or become and stay rich, has nothing to do with either intelligence nor reason. It has more to do with craft, negotiation, persuation, deceit, manipulation. It has to do with the ability to adapt to a particular socio-political-economic system called capitalism. In a socialist system the "smart" ones would appear as the "dumb" ones. And probably in a humanist system -if there ever is one in the future- we will all only appear as primitive dumbshits.

Try to be rational, try to be reasonable; that's the true reward and privillege of evolution.


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