Thursday, February 22, 2007

IQ and residential mobility: Using General Social Survey data on more than 27,000 whites, I calculated average IQs based on vocabulary tests scores for each region of the country the person lived in when age 16, and by their current region of residence. I wanted to learn more about the residential mobility patterns of smart vs. dumb people. Here I list the top 10 smartest groups, followed by the least intelligent:

Top ten IQs by residential status:

1. MTN-->NE,* 123
2. ESC-->NE, 119
3. WSC-->MA, 118
4. PAC-->NE, 116
5. WSC-->NE, 115
6. SA-->NE, 115
7. WNC-->NE, 115
8. ENC-->NE, 112
9. ESC-->MA, 112
10. WNC-->MA, 111

Bottom ten

1. ESC-->PAC, 94
2. ESC--ESC, 95
3. ESC-->WSC, 96
4. WSC-->ENC, 97
5. PAC-->ESC, 98
6. ENC-->ESC, 98
8. ESC-->ENC, 98
9. SA--SA, 98
10. WSC--WSC, 99

*The first acronym is where you lived when you were 16; the second is where you are now.

NE=New England
MA=Middle Atlantic
ENC=East North Central
WNC=West North Central
SA=South Atlantic
ESC=East South Central
WSC=West South Central

So, the smartest groups moved to New England or the Mid-Atlantic, and were likely to come from regions far from the Northeast and with little concentration of cognitive elites of their own. The least intelligent groups either were born in the South and stayed put there, or either moved from the South or to it. The East South Central region popped up many times among the bottom 10.


  1. Misprint? ESC-NE appear in top ten at place 1 and 8.

  2. Perhaps smart southerners are inspired to write by their despair over the dummies surrounding them.

  3. Robert: Thanks, yeah, I changed number 8 from "ESC--NE" to "ENC--NE".

  4. If these are for all races, not just whites, then they may be in part misleading in part due to the large number of blacks displaced by hispanics in S. California and Chicago who are moving back to the South.

  5. Those are big differences.

    You might want to do more with this data. It looks like an important subject that hasn't been quantified much before.

    You might do a couple of things to make it more readable. Perhaps you can substitute percentiles for raw scores. And could you tell us what the sample sizes are for each group.

    And you might present the data collapsed, two different ways. E.g., what's the average vocabulary percentile of people who move to New England etc. And, what's the average vocabulary percentile of people who leave New England, etc.

    You might then be able to quantify how much internal migration changes the IQs of regions! And that would be big news.

  6. Anonymous2:15 PM

    I believe you can control for race in the GSS correlation machine. Try it...

  7. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Wow, so *all* of the smartest moves were to NE and MA (Boston/NY and DC). That's pretty amazing. I would have expected at least a few of them ending up on the West Coast.

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