Home > Archive > Volume 61, No. 4 > This paper

Why Do Finns, Estonians and Finno-Ugric Peoples in Russia Have Such High Intelligence?

Edward Dutton, David Becker and Vladimir Shibaev


Published: 2021/06/01


Cultures vary according to many partly genetic factors, including the average intelligence of their people. Studies have indicated that Finns have particularly high intelligence by European standards. However, the causes are unclear. It may be an ancient adaptation to a harsh yet stable ecology or a reflection of more recent demographic factors. We test the hypothesis of ancient adaptation by exploring average IQ and related proxies, in the Finns and among genetically related peoples: Estonians, and Russia’s Finno-Ugric speaking minorities. Employing national and regional level data, we find evidence indicating elevated intelligence among Finno-Ugrics, consistent with relatively high Finnish IQ being more than simply a recent phenomenon. We examine anomalies raised by these tentative findings, such as relatively low per capita science Nobel Prize achievement among Finns and our finding of a negative association between suicide rate and Finno-Ugric percentage in a population.

   Download PDF