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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

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings with number 156.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:156
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  1. 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.
  2. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "I Just Ran Four Million Regressions," NBER Working Papers 6252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Weede, Erich & Kampf, Sebastian, 2002. "The Impact of Intelligence and Institutional Improvements on Economic Growth," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 361-80.
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:2:p:407-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eric A. Hanushek & Dongwook Kim, 1995. "Schooling, Labor Force Quality, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Leamer, Edward E, 1985. "Sensitivity Analyses Would Help," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 308-13, June.
  10. Dennis D. Kimko & Eric A. Hanushek, 2000. "Schooling, Labor-Force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1184-1208, December.
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