Dysgenic fertility. People really are getting dumber over the years

Sometimes you get to read something and just have to go what the heck? Did I read that right?

Dysgenic fertility means that there is a negative correlation between intelligence and number of children. Its presence during the last century has been demonstrated in several countries. We show here that there is dysgenic fertility in the world population quantified by a correlation of βˆ’Β 0.73 between IQ and fertility across nations.

from The decline of the world’s IQ (Richard Lynn, John Harvey 2007)

What this paper is saying is that since about 1950 humanity is slowly getting more stupid because people who have loads of kids turn out not to be the sharpest tools in the box, on average.

You’re not usually allowed to even think that in polite society, never mind write it down in a scientific publication. It seems that the premise of the movie Idiocracy is correct. Warren Buffett needs to steady on talking about his much-vaunted human ingenuity. Looks like there’s going to be a lot less of that to go around in the years to come πŸ˜‰


The problem is gathering momentum too

It is estimated that the effect of this has been a decline in the world’s genotypic IQ of 0.86 IQ points for the years 1950–2000. A further decline of 1.28 IQ points in the world’s genotypic IQ is projected for the years 2000–2050.



12 thoughts on “Dysgenic fertility. People really are getting dumber over the years”

  1. But does it matter? It’s not the masses that generate human progress, it’s the small minority who have ideas and the drive to carry them out.

    Not much correlation, I suspect, with IQ.


  2. @ermine Sounds like a good reason to continue to cut back on educational expenditures. I must write my MLA with the good news ! πŸ™‚


  3. @SG I see what you’re saying but somewhere in the back of my mind something nags that this isn’t enough. The masses are still what drives the economy. Granted a 1 point something fall over 50 years probably won’t change much but if this is linear, over 500 years we will become noticeably simple. I’m not a believer in the Kurzweil singularity but we might start to need it in 1000 years.

    @g shouldn’t that be the other way round πŸ˜‰


  4. Dear, oh dear… where to start πŸ˜‰

    I seem to remember way back when I was studying a Sociology ‘O’ level (yup, I got an ‘ology…) H L Mencken showed that within families IQ tended to revert to the mean across generations (now Mencken isn’t somewhere I really like to go to when it comes to intelligence of various … ahem … ‘groups’, so take it for what it’s worth πŸ˜‰ )

    What this new data would suggest is some sort of weighting to the general population.

    Being childless myself I’ve long assumed that stupid people breed more, but am happy to consider the hypothesis that this is just a self-serving post-hoc justification.

    As for: “The masses are still what drives the economy” what worries me most is that is the masses who elect the government, and as in Greece, they can vote not to take their medicine. Also on a Greek theme, wasn’t it Plato who said nothing good would ever come of this new-fangled writing as it would dumb-down the masses? I’d love to see a reliable data set back to classical Athens πŸ™‚

    Take on too much technology and the thinking-muscle atrophies accordingly.


  5. the good news is that it is unlikely to affect the class based distribution of goods – i should think a deep pan pizza slice tastes the same if you have an iq of 50 or 100, and the ability to point a shot gun at a bird and pull the trigger is also probably little influenced by iq…in other words, nothing much is likely to change in blighty


  6. @ermine – any chance you can get a talking head from the “Dept. for Education, Skills and Crimes Against Child Psychology” to explain how exactly this data is consistent with grade inflation?

    ps not holding my breath πŸ˜‰


  7. It makes sense when I consider previous snippets of information that show a decline in average numbers of children born to women who are educated to a higher level.

    It leaves those who choose not to take up education to concentrate on breeding…


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