Sunday, October 05, 2008

Who to turn to for advice: smart liberals or smart conservatives?

If you're a young person looking for direction, we all know it makes sense to ask a smart person, but does it make sense to seek out an intelligent liberal or conservative? An excellent measure or whether people have their act together or not is whether they can make their marriage work. It's a huge challenge as anyone who has been married knows. Not everyone has the wisdom to figure out how to keep it together.

I looked at the marital status of the smartest people (WORDSUM=9,10) over 30, using General Social Survey data. It is summarized in the above graph. With the exception of extreme conservatives, divorce decreases as one moves in a conservative direction (shown in green).

And this underestimates the success of conservatives since liberals are much less likely to have ever been married and thus are not at risk for divorce. Among all who have gotten married, 33.0% of liberals and only 10.8% of conservatives have gotten divorced or separated.

Liberal IQ does not translate into successful institutions. Conservative intelligence does.


  1. Not getting divorced is not necessarily a measure of success. Conservatives are probably more likely to remain in unhappy and even unhealthy marriages than liberals due to religious beliefs.

  2. Anonymous3:13 PM

    Yeah. Why not run the regression on how people feel about their marriage?

  3. Anonymous9:58 AM

    OK. You did what I said and were right. Good point. But I have another question, one you might find interesting as well: what about non-smart liberals and conservatives? Run the regression on everyone. It'd be interesting to see if liberalism is more damaging to smart people, for example.


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