Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mean IQ of Americans with advanced degrees has dropped almost nine points

When GSS data revealed that the mean IQs of college graduates dropped almost nine points over the past four decades, I assumed that grad schools, by contrast, had not lowered standards so much. I was wrong. Here are the means by decade for Americans in their thirties with an advanced degree:

Mean IQ of Americans with advanced degrees (sample size = 446)

1970s 115.7
1980s 112.7
1990s 110.0
2000s 107.1*

* significantly lower than 1970s

The mean IQ dropped 8.6 points over the four decades--just as much as for undergraduates. College degrees across the board do not mean what they used to.


  1. So the next important question is if this has affected work quality. Has the quality of work declined in white collar and professional occupations?

    James Flynn simply asserts this isn't the case, but I'm not willing to take it on faith.

  2. Saint Louis8:39 AM

    I wonder what the make-up of those degrees is. E.g. Do Education degrees comprise a larger portion now than 40 years ago?

  3. Anonymous7:38 AM

    This is fascinating, and it validates a point made on the 100 reasons not to go to grad school blog:

  4. silly girl2:21 PM

    "Has the quality of work declined in white collar and professional occupations?"

    How about this possibility, the total number has increased and the average quality has decreased. However, the total number of the most qualified has also increased. So, the quality of the best work has not suffered. And there is a bunch of superfluous work out there, too. Plausible?

    I assume the GSS reports the total number of the highest scores from both the earlier and later groups.

  5. So the average master's degree holder today is as smart as the average bachelor's degree holder of a generation ago.

    That sounds about right.

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  8. Anonymous1:13 PM

    It's actually to be expected. Advanced degrees are almost something you need just to survive in todays world. So as employers demand more you see more people being pushed to achieve more, not because they want to learn, but because they want to make enough to feed their families.

    A Masters Degree today is worth about the same as a Bachelor's Degree in the 1970s. So it might be more accurate to compare Masters Degree holders in 2016 with Bachelor's Degree holders in 1976.


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