Did The Irish Get Smarter Or Not?
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The Republic of Ireland now has a very high nominal per capita GDP. Much of this is for Evado Tax reasons—e.g., Apple negotiated a 2% corporate profit tax rate with the Republic of Ireland and now, through the magic of accounting, Apple recognizes much of the profits it earns in the European Union as transpiring in County Cork.

On the other hand, while I haven’t been to Ireland since 1994, my impression is that the place now looks like a fairly prosperous modern country.

That’s interesting from an IQ and the Wealth of Nations perspective, the 2002 book by Lynn and Vanhanen that showed a strong correlation between per capita GDP and national average IQ as calculated from a miscellany of studies. Because in that book, Ireland scored the lowest Western Europe at 92. But lately Ireland is prosperous and scores quite well on the PISA school achievement test for 15-year-olds.

From psychometrician Russell T. Warne’s blog:




One of the talking points in the discussion of average group differences in IQ is Irish IQ. People on both the hereditarian and environmentalist side of the debate have seized on this tidbit of information to advance their arguments.

Lynn and Vanhanen (2006) estimated that the average IQ of the Irish population to be 92, which is noticeably lower than the rest of northern and western Europe. Lynn (2015, pp. 38-39) attributed this lower value to the dysgenic effect of Roman Catholicism (where more educated people become celibate nuns and priests) and selective migration of brighter individuals to other countries. …

Environmentalists are heartened by this massive rise in Irish IQ. In that perspective, if one group difference can close so quickly, then the most controversial group mean IQ difference—between White Americans and African American—can also close. It is a plausible hypothesis, and it is worth investigating the Irish IQ data in order to see whether it provides grounds for hope regarding other group differences in IQ.

Warne went back and dug up every study of IQ in the Republic of Ireland (orange dots, confusingly), Northern Ireland (green dots—don’t make me tell my anecdote again about my green and orange golf balls at Ballybunion!) and Irish-Americans in the US (blue dots):

If you look at the orange dots (Republic), there was one sizable study in the early 1980s that came out at 87 and three other sizable ones in 95 to 97 range, plus some smaller ones as high as 104 (the most recent R of I study, but quite small).

Warne comes up with a weighted average mean for the Republic of Ireland of 94.0 (on a scale where England is 100). So, that is kind of a low, not super low, but 40% of a standard deviation. There has only been one small IQ test in the Republic over the last 30 years, which seems to be a global pattern. The IQ test publishers don’t see much reason to conduct many new validations tests.

On the other hand, this century has been something of a golden age for school achievement tests like TIMSS and PISA. In the World Bank’s collection of tests, Ireland comes out a strong tenth in the world, one point ahead of the UK.

Personally, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if the Republic of Ireland’s IQ had been depressed a little bit during the De Valera era, when the government encouraged a farm and faith-focused culture. The Irish Free State emphasized strongly that farmers should feel as good as anybody else and that the education system shouldn’t make them feel inferior to city slickers.

In 1965 I visited my cousins at their Irish boarding school, Clongowes Wood College, which features in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man. They were always complaining that they had to take classes in Gaelic, which they didn’t see much use for when they returned to America. But teaching Gaelic was government policy even if it wasn’t the absolute best use of young minds’ time.

Lately, Ireland has prospered as a corporate regional headquarters because it’s overwhelmingly English speaking (and with an understandable and likable accent).

I’m reminded of how Israel doesn’t score that highly on tests, which likely has something to do with the ancient Zionist policy of de-intellectualizing Israeli Jews, that the new Jews forged in Israel weren’t just going to be scholars and merchants, they’d also be farmers and soldiers. So, Israel has wound up with a slightly dumbed down culture (one in which, for example, Mizrahi pop culture tastes are considered more desirable than snobbish Ashkenazi tastes) and correspondingly mediocre test scores.

Something to keep in mind is that the Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish are so closely related genetically that DNA ancestry testing services often lump them all together and maybe toss in the Dutch as well. Presumably, there is a lot of demand from customers for knowing how Irish or Scottish or English they are, so it says a lot that testing companies have often punted on that profitable question.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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