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Intelligence, Human Capital, and Economic Growth: An Extreme Bounds Analysis


  • Garett Jones
  • W. Joel Schneider


Human capital plays an important role in the theory of economic growth, but it has been difficult to measure this abstract concept. We survey the psychological literature on cross-cultural IQ tests, and conclude that modern intelligence tests are well-suited for measuring an important form of a nation’s human capital. Using a new database compiled by Lynn and Vanhanen (2002), we show that national average IQ has a robust positive relationship with economic growth. Using a methodology derived from Sala-i-Martin (1997a), we show that in growth regressions that include only robust control variables, IQ is statistically significant in 99.7% of these 1330 regressions. A strong relationship persists even when OECD countries are excluded from the sample. Conditional on GDP per capita in 1960 and other control variables, a 1 point increase in a nation’s average IQ is associated with a persistent 0.13% annual increase in GDP per capita

Suggested Citation

  • Garett Jones & W. Joel Schneider, 2004. "Intelligence, Human Capital, and Economic Growth: An Extreme Bounds Analysis," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 156, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:156

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin D. Hoover & Stephen J. Perez, 2004. "Truth and Robustness in Cross-country Growth Regressions," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(5), pages 765-798, December.
    2. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    3. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    4. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
    5. Eric A. Hanushek & Dongwook Kim, 1995. "Schooling, Labor Force Quality, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "I Just Ran Two Million Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 178-183, May.
    7. Weede, Erich & Kampf, Sebastian, 2002. "The Impact of Intelligence and Institutional Improvements on Economic Growth," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 361-380.
    8. Jerik Hanushek & Dennis Kimko, 2006. "Schooling, Labor-force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 1, pages 154-193.
    9. Leamer, Edward E, 1985. "Sensitivity Analyses Would Help," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 308-313, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Garett Jones, 2005. "IQ in the Ramsey Model: A Naive Calibration," Development and Comp Systems 0507004, EconWPA.

    More about this item


    Economic Growth; Human Capital; Education;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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