2006 October 22 Sunday
Average IQ Of American States

Read Steve Sailer's latest: Average IQ by State: Honest Numbers at Last. He reports on a new study by Michael McDaniel, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University. Here is an IQ table for the American states. New England and the northern plains states have the smarter people. One question: What are the North Dakotans doing with their brains?

Immigration is driving national IQ downward. This is a national disaster that far outstrips the Iraq Debacle in importance.

Update: Note that the method of measure for state-level IQ involved testing children using other types of tests. (in contrast to more rigorous IQ tests used in international IQ comparisons). But the correlation between some other tests (e.g. SAT tests) and IQ tests are high enough for this to be useful. But since children were used and the ethnic mix of children is different than the ethnic mix of adults (due to immigration and different rates of fertility) the results understate the current adult IQ of those states that have seen a large influx of lower IQ ethnic groups. But as the older whites die off some states are going to lose economic ground and become more corrupt as a result of increasing proportions of lower IQ workers and voters and ethnic group politics where people vote for their ethnic group rather than for the best candidate for the whole.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 October 22 11:21 PM  Human Nature

Rob said at October 22, 2006 11:55 PM:

ND: I don't actually know anything about the state, but a) they are using them not to freeze to death. or b) It's cultural, they're smart, but they're farmers, they use brains for immediate, practical problems. Not quantum, or embroiling us in foreign wars.

Of course, young people are moving out in droves to "vibrant" areas to use their brains to keep the economy going for the marching morons.

John S Bolton said at October 23, 2006 2:00 AM:

California is way down relative to other states, and all of that is attributable to immigration, since whatever is also gotten away with in terms of poor educational methods, is made vastly easier politically by having illegals and low quality of immigration overall.
It is clearly bad for the progress of technology in particular, to lose California to the morass of third world standards.
How Texas came out at the national average may need to be inquired into.
The use of school progress testing to derive average IQ's, may help with allowing correlations to be found with results which are themselves highly correlated with years of education, and even more so than with IQ.

John S Bolton said at October 23, 2006 2:03 AM:

Another factor which stands out is that states with low population growth, as especially from immigration, are the high IQ ones. This is doubly ominous, in that research and development cannot move to places like Montana or the Dakotas.

Kurt said at October 23, 2006 8:48 AM:

This data is certainly more believable than the hoax data. I immediately suspected the article in the Economist as not being right. Having the states range in IQ from 85 to 113 is simply not believable.

I think California having a mean IQ of 95 is certainly believable. Any kind of basic service (like getting the rental car or having things fixed in your hotel room) is a major chore and is not done competantly. The people in Montana and the Dakotas may be considered to be "hicks', but they are not. They are actually progmatic, level-headed people who do things right.

Who says R&D cannot be done in places like Montana? Montana State University (in Bozeman) established a materials science laboratory a few years ago for $20 million. There are an increasing number of technology manufacturers in the state as well (semiconductor process equipment and lasers). The Boise area of Idaho is also getting more technology manufacturers as well.

Fred said at October 23, 2006 9:37 AM:

California suffers not only from an influx of low IQ immigrants, but also from an exodus of middle class, managerial, engineer, and technician types looking for someplace cheaper, safer, and easier to live in. This may in time make more hi-tech undertakings increasingly feasible in places like Idaho and eastern Washington.

Th Plains States continue to rank high despite a sustained outflux of educated young people who leave for the coasts to puruse whatever the hell it is that people are after in their 20s. I can't blame them. It's in the nature of being young to want to see the world. Neverthless, the high ranking score of the remaining populace would seem to indicate that inhabitants of the plains are a somewhat untapped resource. Of course, maybe they don't want to be tapped.

I remember reading years ago that if all of American high school high school students scored as well in math as the residents of one of the Dakotas, our country would outrank the Japanese in math performance. This only goes to demonstrate the beneficial effect on young minds of ingesting lots of corn-fed beef, or making snowmen, or threshing wheat, or something.

I think I'll check out the job situation in Rapid City.

Carl Shulman said at October 23, 2006 1:28 PM:


"Th Plains States continue to rank high DESPITE [emphasis added] a sustained outflux of educated young people who leave for the coasts to puruse whatever the hell it is that people are after in their 20s."
This is somewhat nonsensical: the study is *based on* the scores of young people still in school, so a brain drain of high school graduates will have no effect on a state's reported mean.


"I think California having a mean IQ of 95 is certainly believable."
Because the study is based on schoolchildren, and (as of 2004-2005) almost half of California schoolchildren are Hispanic, whereas only a third of the population as a whole is Hispanic, it will understate the mean IQ of the state's population to the extent that Hispanic Californians have lower mean IQs.

Fred said at October 23, 2006 1:44 PM:


The brain drain effect reduces high school scores over a series of generations. There are regions on the plains that hit their peak populations 100 years ago. The reason for the "despite" is that bright, ambitious people have been leaving the plains in large numbers for several decades. Given the fact that IQ is estimatated to be approximately two thirds inherited, it is striking that the averages there continue to be high, since those who live there are increasingly the remainder left over after a long exodus of talented genes. Viewed from this perspective, the "despite" isn't nonsensical, as I'm sure you will agree. But thanks for the 'heads up' anyway.

By the way, "Udolpho" has some choice things to say about growning up in South Dakota. He's a bright guy, and look, he up and left. Case in point.


TheOneWhoKnows said at October 23, 2006 1:45 PM:

Kentucky, Tennesee, and West Virginia are all quite white...but IQ's in the same range as Georgia which is 1/3 black.

Hmmm...guess screwing you cousin is bad for your genes...or most of the smart blacks migrated to Atlanta metro area from the North and skewed things...

Fred said at October 23, 2006 2:12 PM:

I'd like to follow up on my previous point for a moment(I'll skip over the speculations about incest for the time being, though actually, Steve Sailer does have some good info one how breeding with one's cousins does taint the gene pool).

Anyway, Le Griffe du Lion has an excellent article titled "The Effect of Urban Flight on IQ Distribution". To go straight to the point, due to the migration of talent out of Baltimore, and into the suburbs (and presumably beyond), the city of Baltimore now has population whose IQ is actually closer to clinically-defined retardation than to the national average.

Non-hispanic whites in Baltimore (32% of the population), have a mean IQ of 86. Blacks in Baltimore (65% of the population), have a mean IQ of 76. These statistics demonstrate what can happen over a period of time when a population is drained of intellectual talent. They go a LONG, LONG way toward explaining much about the shortcomings of many urban school systems, and why public education in America necessitates such widespread evasion and hypocrisy. What do you think would happen if concerned citizens probed too deeply about exam results and curriculum requirements, and figures like these started bubbling to the surface. Far better to smile, to prevaricate, and to fudge the figures on "No Child Left Behind."

The next time somebody asks why schools in low-income urban districts can't turn their little charges into future architects, engineers, doctors, and lawyers, you might want to mention these statistics.

Carl Shulman said at October 23, 2006 2:28 PM:


You're quite right about the eugenic possibility: I'm afraid I uncharitably interpreted your statement because the post didn't mention that the IQ estimates were derived from a school dataset, and there seemed to be reactions that didn't take that into account.

Here's an article on the rural brain drain:

It seems unsurprising that the effect on children's IQ is modest, for several reasons:

1. Plains State emigrants are nowhere near as unrepresentative as, e.g. Indians moving to the United States.
2. Regression to the mean in the next generation restrains the effect dramatically.
3. The earliest NAEP is in Grade 4, with more at 8 and 12. If young people decide to stay or leave before having children the effects will not be visible in state scores for at least 10 years. Since the rural exodus has been accelerating, the effect will be smaller using the school measurement than a random sample. (Why not check against the GSS' mini-verbal IQ test?).
4. Educated, secular people have lower fertility rates across the board, so removing their few children from the mean might not have as much of an effect as expected.

Combining these factors, I am not surprised that a largely white Plains State that has its best and brightest skimmed off for a a generation or two could still have a respectable mean (thanks to regression in the next generation), especially in comparison to a place like California, with a burgeoning immigrant population that regresses to a lower mean (partially offset by higher NE Asian IQs).

Randall Parker said at October 23, 2006 5:01 PM:

Fred asks,

What do you think would happen if concerned citizens probed too deeply about exam results and curriculum requirements, and figures like these started bubbling to the surface. Far better to smile, to prevaricate, and to fudge the figures on "No Child Left Behind."

What do I think would happen if the truth wasn't suppressed by the commissars of political correctness? I think we'd have much better public policies in foreign policy, immigration policy, education policy, welfare policy, and in other areas. Our crime rates would be lower. Our quality of life would be higher. The truth has tremendous utility.

Omer K said at October 23, 2006 7:18 PM:

People have this notion that if we talked about I.Q being heritable, all hell would break lose. I seriously doubt most people will even pay attention as they already know it to be true.

Seeing how most people understand that people differ intellectually and the world hasnt stopped.. the net effect of open discussion of the problem will be a silencing of people who deny it for their own purposes and also an eventual decline of I.Q as a topic of major conversation till it is mostly a dry academic matter.

Dave said at October 23, 2006 8:05 PM:

I don't know how many people do accept intelligence is heritable to some extent, it always supprises me how many intelligent people don't believe that and think you're mad for even talking about it.

At samizdata (libertarians) they are talking about abortion.

This is what one of the commenters says:
"I think that a woman should be able to abort up until the moment the baby comes out naturally.
My rationale for this (which is maybe similar to the Objectivist one, I don't know their stance on this) is that a baby, even one almost born, is still a blank slate. Yes, there is neural development, and a baby in the womb can actually hear things, and move, and react to stimuli. But they are for all intents and purposes just a body ready to start building their humanity/personality/potential."

crush41 said at October 23, 2006 9:53 PM:

McDaniel's estimates are solid. I used a very similar methodology to estimate IQs back in July, except that I opted for math and science scores rather than math and reading, as reading skews most unfavorably against newly-arrived immigrants and because scholastic science questions tend to be more g-loaded than reading ones. He used a normal distribution based around 100, I gleaned my regression formula from Richard Lynn's findings in Race Differences in Intelligence in which the scholar correlated international math and science tests with IQ results (which correlated at .87 and .81, respectively). McDaniel also used fourth grader data while I stuck exclusively to eighth grade. And he adjusted for private school enrollment. The estimates McDaniel and I came up with correlate at .93. They're nearly identical.


The flight over subsequent generations is to some degree counterbalanced by the white middle class flight from the coasts into back into the heartland.

crush41 said at October 23, 2006 10:52 PM:

Actually, our numbers correlate at over .96. I had 'W Virginia' in one column and 'West Virginia' in the other, mixing up the numbers for Washington and West Virginia across estimates (as they're in alphabetical order).

Fred said at October 23, 2006 11:49 PM:

Randall asks:

What do I think would happen if the truth wasn't suppressed by the commissars of political correctness? I think we'd have much better public policies in foreign policy, immigration policy, education policy, welfare policy, and in other areas. Our crime rates would be lower. Our quality of life would be higher. The truth has tremendous utility.

I don't mean to clarify the obvious, but I too would welcome a more honest recognition of the relationship between IQ and academic potential. If not, I never would have posted the comments above. However, it has been my experience in education that people tip toe around this issue very gingerly, even in informal, corridor chats. It's quite interesting, in faculty discussions about student attitudes and performance, to watch people feel each other out on this topic. And here, I'm only speaking about the most general references to the relationship between intelligence and ability.

To bring into the discussion the elements of race and class, as "The Effect of Urban Flight on IQ Distribtion" does, would be to call down on oneself a host of personal and professional troubles that most people would rather do without. A politician who made reference to these factors would very quickly find himself in the center ring of the national media circus. Any university president who did the same would be similarly "featured," and to similar effect. Don't think so? Just ask Larry Summers. That is, if he grants an interview to anyone ever again. Hence my sarcastic comments about "Far better to smile, to prevaricate, and to fudge the figures on 'No Child Left Behind'."

On the topic of the depopulation on the Plains, I've done a little research this morning, and the results so far are ambiguous. It's not clear (to me, yet) if these states are actually depopulating as a whole or if this is mostly an out-migration from the rural areas. Different sites seem to lead to different conclusions. Perhaps the population movement reflects the more general trned of people relocating to metropolitan areas.

Randall Parker said at October 24, 2006 5:31 PM:


A public airing of the truth will result in the gutting of the legal barriers for the use of IQ and aptitude tests for job applicants. That will reduce the need for smart people to spend many years in school. It will save money and free up smart people to do more productive things with their time.

The OneWhoKnows said at October 24, 2006 5:55 PM:

There are legal barriers to IQ test?

I've had two IQ test at job interviews in the past. Once at a software company and another at a major insurance company, but in 2004.

Fred said at October 25, 2006 9:38 AM:


Again, my point was not that such an airing shouldn't occur, but rather that the current political and social atmosphere makes a frank discussion of this topic by people in educational or political bureaucracies an extremely precarious undertaking. There is a gaping difference between what is and what should be, and to describe that current situation is not to endorse it.

One reason why I visit this site is because it offers straightforward discussion on a variety of topics important to the long-term prospects of the US. Such discussion has been made easier by the internet, in part because it allows people to air their views with a considerable degree of anonymity, should they want it.

However, it is also understandable in the current social climate that a 50 year old prinicipal at a mediocre school would be wary of raising this topic at a PTA meeting (if people still have PTA meetings). He's got a family to support, he doesn't have a lot of other career options, and to say in effect that some students will fail simply because they are incapable of passing is not likely to endear him to the parents, the school district, or any potential future employer. Facts is facts.

By the way, this isn't just true in education. If you work in a corporate marketing department, and both you and you customers are aware that the company's products suck, you may find marketing these products problematic. You may, however, also be reluctant to share this opinion with your Senior Vice President, who worked his way up in the company through design and manufacturing. If you're smart, that is.

My brother, who has a son in middle school, told me that last year one of the teachers at his son's school committed suicide. Evidently, his inability to reach some bureaucratic benchmarks for expected student performance was a factor in this. If I recall correctly, he aqctually shot himself in his office at school. I know nothing about this teacher and therefore I don't claim for a minute that this was his only problem. In fact, I'd be the first to admit that it would've made a lot more sense simply to have looked for another job. But, as someone who has taught university students for about 10 years now, I am well aware of the role of intelligence in student performance, and the impossiblity of a teacher raising the level of student intelligence. Didn't somebody once say something about a "silk purse and a sow's ear?"

Like anyone else who teaches, I am sometimes confronted with students who simply do not understand what we are aiming at in an assignment, and have no idea how to achieve what they do not understand. However, I am fortunate in that most people recognize that not everyone can succeed at a university. It is a bit more of a shock, however, to realize that not everyone can succeed in the ninth grade. Many people are not yet willing to accept this. Again, I am not endorsing the status quo, I am simply talking about it. I do believe that this site and other venues for discussion are slowly making it possible to be more honest about these topics in the broader cultural conversation. Slowly.


Check out the Supreme Court decision, "Griggs vs. Duke Power." I'm not a lawyer, but my recollection of the decision is that employers can use IQ and ability tests ONLY IF they can demonstrate the direct relevance of such test to the job requirements. In other words, the decision discourages employers from using these tests for fear of lawsuits, but they are still an option, particularly for work requiring mega brain power (or highly g-loaded work, as Charles Murray might put it). A former girlfiend of mine had to take an IQ test when interviewing with a management consulting firm, for example.

Randall Parker said at October 25, 2006 6:11 PM:


The truth about IQ is still deniable because the commissars can deny anything inconvenient that is only demonstrable with social science evidence. But I'm referring to what will happen once the genetic evidence for IQ differences comes out. I expect that evidence to come out in the next 10 years. DNA sequencing and testig costs keep falling so that the cost of doing comparisons to identify the genetic variations that influence IQ will get low enough that the genetic evidence will be found.


Employers face very high legal liability hurdles for the use of IQ tests. Those hurdles are courtesy of our liberal commissars.

Omer K said at October 25, 2006 7:23 PM:

You are too optimistic. The powers that be will never accept heritable differences in intelligence. The proof is massive right now. Not to mention life experience, common sense and sociological study of different ethnic diaspora.

The only change will come from a change in who is defined as "the powers that be".

Randall Parker said at October 25, 2006 7:46 PM:

Omer K,

I see a few changes happening:

1) The genetic evidence is starting to build up. That's far harder to deny than social science evidence. When the genetic evidence gets really strong then the commissars are going to have a tough problem because geneticists and neurobiologists have much higher status than social scientists. Outlines of the genetic evidence are beginning to emerge with a Darwinian explanation for why Jews are smarter and my favorite Plos Biology article: A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome. These reports represent the first spits of rain in a coming down pour. I think people who are pessimistic about the prospects for the truth emerging into the mainstream discourse fail to appreciate the torrent of evidence that is going to pour out of the labs. The current version of conventional wisdom enforced by the commissars is going to become as discredited as communism.

2) The commissars are less able to squelch discussion and hide the truth due to the internet. There are too many unedited sources of information and too many people who can point to the evidence that the commissars do not want us to know. People who want to cruise realist blogs or who accidentally come across them doing searches will find all sorts of things that were a lot more suppressible 20 years ago.

For example, the income of Korean adoptees raised by American parents show no correlation with adopted parental income. That is an absolutely stunning result and argues very strongly for the greater importance of genes over environment. Also see these follow-up comments on that report.

I periodically try to make it easy for people to read the stuff the commissars do not want known. This reminds me:

If anyone cares to read the hereditarian arguments I can offer a number of pointers: Start with The Bell Curve. Also read Intelligence,Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen by Jensen and Frank Miele and The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability by Arthur Jensen. If you want a free book on IQ then check out the free download of Chris Brand's IQ book g Factor (same title, different book). I haven't read Brand's book.

Here and here (both PDF format) are two recent papers by Jensen and Rushton on the IQ, heredity, and environment. You can also read Linda Gottfredson's paper (again PDF) reacting to the first of those two papers.

More to read: The NURTURE ASSUMPTION: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do by Judith Rich Harris and also The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. Note that Pinker sidesteps the whole IQ controversy. Also, Harris is not focused on that as her topic either. Still, they present arguments that undermine the assumptions of the left-liberal conventional wisdom about the importance of environmental influences which are due to parents.

nz conservative said at October 25, 2006 9:39 PM:

Too many people seem to believe that early childhood education is the key to intelligence and too much money is wasted in that area.

It would be great to see some of that money redirected into promoting basics like breast feeding and research into raising IQs among those with learning disorders.

Fred said at October 25, 2006 11:26 PM:

I think that, on this topic, the ice is beginning to break. As Randall points out, there is simply more and more scientfically verifiable data out there about heredity and intelligence. I also agree that The Bell Curve is probably the place to start reading about this. I just recently re-read the book. It's interesting to me to remember how it was so villified at the time of its publication, and how unremarkable so many of its observations now seem (to me anyway, though I realize a lot of people would still gleefully burn it). Every society has its sacred cows and its taboo topics, and the reception to The Bell Curve defintely bore that out.

I am currently reading Pinker's book, The Blank Slate. Not nearly as interesting as The Bell Curve, and he is rather timid in some of his conclusions, but again, the fact that this book has stirred up considerably less controversy is some indication that people are slowly growing accustomed to the idea that genetics play a huge role in what people are able to do intellectually. Though I don't think that he's ever so bold as come right out and say that, at least so far as I've read up to now.

Given all I've said in the above posts about politics and public education, I do think a voucher system is probably a good idea. Rather than try to impose from above a system (a very hypothetical system) for how kids of differing backgrounds and abilities should be educated, why not let (was it Mao who said it) "a million flowers bloom?" Give lots of different schools the latitude to figure out, by trial and error if need be, what works best to educate the kinds of students they have. Of course, the educational establishement looks at this possibility with loathing and trepidation.

Finally, for whatever it's worth, I think high school should end at 16. If you can't teach someone the basic intellectual skills they will need make a living and figure out what's going on around them in 10 years time, then you won't be able to do so in 20. It seems to me that we need about three different types of high school programs, so as to make it possible for even those with little intellectual ability to get a certificate and graduate at an age when they actually COULD start working. Whether or not they WOULD got to work, is, I realize, an entirely different matter.

Anyway, after high school, those who wanted to continue could either do something vocational (skilled trade), or semi-voacational, semi-intellectual (four year college), or spend two years prepping for university, followed by a university program that would terminate, more or less, at what is now the Masters level. There, I've restructured America's educational system. In my mind, anyway.

eh said at October 26, 2006 5:16 AM:

This is a national disaster that far outstrips the Iraq Debacle in importance.

You might be able to get a significant number of people to agree with you on that.

However, recently I wasn't able to get people to see that uncontrolled Hispanic immigration was a bigger problem for California than those letters sent to new voters that have gotten so much attention. This is something that ought to be pretty obvious.

I see a few changes happening:...

Personally, I don't see enough change.

Robert Hume said at October 26, 2006 7:58 AM:

There has been substantial out-migration from West Virginia and the hill country of Virginia, Kentucky, N. Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. These folks tend to be in suburbs around the country. So there might well have been a reduction in average IQ in those states. I don't know how you would investigate this since no one is interested in this "ethnic group".

Randall Parker said at October 26, 2006 5:23 PM:


I agree high school should end sooner. For smart kids it is a slow waste. For dumb kids it reaches a level of knowledge they never can grasp and just frustrates them.

Yes, we need more vocational training. Forcing the less bright to take courses aimed at the college bound does them cruel disservice. They need training in tasks they can actually master.

mike said at October 27, 2006 9:18 PM:

California is down there with Mississippi and Louisiana. Now that's progressive! Even West Virginia is a few points higher than California.

Fred said at October 28, 2006 6:28 AM:

As California goes, so goes America. The trends that we see in California today play themselves out 10 to 20 years later in the rest of America. If this is true (and I think in many ways it is), even people like me, who've never set foot in California, should keep an eye on what's happening there. I have to say that, from a completely second-hand, outsider's perspective, it's not looking like an increasingly attractive place to live. Just the opposite. Am I being too negative?

Wunderluster said at October 29, 2006 8:20 PM:

Why is Hawaii so low aren't Asians supposed to be so smart??

Haiwaii is mostly Asian.


White persons, percent definition and source info White persons, percent, 2004 (a) 26.5% 80.4%
Black persons, percent definition and source info Black persons, percent, 2004 (a) 2.2% 12.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent definition and source info American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2004 (a) 0.3% 1.0%
Asian persons, percent definition and source info Asian persons, percent, 2004 (a) 41.8% 4.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2004 (a)

Then again the crime rate in Hawaii is actually quite high outside the tourist areas...not murder so much but a lot of property crime and drug crime (meth and crack is big).


"ranked the state as having the 6th highest total Crime Index."

Maybe all the ghetto Asians moved there LOL

muti said at March 4, 2007 1:18 PM:

Some info about IQ and Ethnic groups at http://statisticsoftheworld.page.tl

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