NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charles Murray: The Value Of Intelligence

April 28, 1998

Innate intelligence -- rather than environmental and social factors -- largely determines how much people will earn, claims Charles Murray in a new report from the American Enterprise Institute.

His findings, contained in the study "Income Inequality and IQ," are based on an analysis of 2,859 young adult sibling pairs. The pairs were raised in the same home and had the same parents, but their Intelligence Quotients (IQs) differed.

  • "Very bright" siblings, with IQs above 120, earned a median of $33,500 a year -- $11,500 more than their "normal" siblings, whose IQs ranged between 90 and 109.
  • "Normal" siblings earned a median of $9,750 more than their "very dull" siblings, whose IQs were less than 80 and who had median earnings of $7,500.
  • Wondering what would happen to siblings if the very best social advantages were introduced, Murray set up a "utopian" sample -- siblings who spent 14 years in an intact family with median earnings of $50,000 a year.
  • The "utopian" siblings' earnings remained stratified by IQ and were only slightly higher than their counterparts in the general study.

The one exception was for "very dull" siblings. Those who grew up in ideal settings earned 47 percent more than those who did not.

The top IQ group in the study earned almost five times as much as the bottom group.

The study points out the nearly insurmountable difficulties involved in trying to eradicate income inequality.

Murray was the coauthor of the 1994 book, "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life," written with the late Richard Herrnstein.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "IQ, Not Environment, Strongest Income Factor," and Linda Seebach (Rocky Mountain News), "Roots of Economic Inequality," both in Washington Times, April 28, 1998.

 

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