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Rushton, Jensen, and the Wealth of Nations: Biogeography and Public Policy as Determinants of Economic Growth

Gregory B. Christainsen


Published: 2020/06/01


This paper offers a review of some of the empirical literature on economic growth and discusses its recent evolution in light of developments in intelligence research and genomics. The paper also undertakes the first regression analysis of economic growth to use the most up-to-date version (VI.3.2) of David Becker’s data set of international IQ scores. The analysis concerns the growth of 94 countries from 1995-2016. The new regression analysis replicates the results of Jones and Schneider (2006) in finding IQ to have a robust impact on economic growth. Political and economic institutions are represented in the regressions via a country’s “degree of capitalism” (aka “economic freedom”), which is found to have an impact that is positive and statistically significant. A change from communism to a market economy does much to increase growth, but the paper finds diminishing returns to free markets. Countries whose people are mostly of sub-Saharan African descent have low average IQ scores, but the paper finds that other factors also have lessened economic growth not only in Africa, but in Haiti and Jamaica as well. Rushton and Jensen (2005, 2010) put forth the hypothesis that average IQ differences across ethnic groups are 50% due to genetic differences, and 50% due to differences in natural and social environments. Applied to international IQ scores, the paper finds the hypothesis to be very reasonable.

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