National Income per Person

and its relation to IQ, Free Markets and Good Government


The landmark book IQ and the Wealth of Nations provides much well-researched, interesting information. Below is some of the authors' data, going from low to high IQ countries. Click for a larger list of 127 countries showing income/ person in 2002 plus their IQ

Nigeria 67 national average IQ, $ 795 per person income in 1998

Barbados 78 $ 12,001

Guatemala 79 $ 3,505

India 81 $ 2,077

Iraq 87 $ 3,197

Mexico 87 $ 7,704

Argentina 96 $ 12,013

US 98 $ 29,605

China 100 $ 3,105

UK 100 $ 20,336

Italy 102 $ 20,585

Japan 105 $ 23,257

Hong Kong 107 $ 20,763


The data above leads to two important conclusions in the book:

1. The higher the average IQ is in a nation, the higher the income of their citizens is likely to be. 54% of the difference in national income is attributable to the IQ differences. (This is much greater than for individuals, where the percent for IQ is 33% - at most.)

2. Countries above that are out of pattern (as China and Barbados) show that free markets, democracy, and lack of corruption are other important factors in national wealth. The US and Europe score high on these free market factors, countries like Argentina and Mexico do less well, while poorly governed countries like Iraq and many in Africa are at the bottom. (For a lively description of how good government fosters economic prosperity, read the chapter on New York beginnings from a well-received Economics textbook by this website's creator.)

Similar comments on this data from

"Culture can play a role as well - at the extreme, contrast two countries with almost identical per capita GDPs: Barbados and Argentina (at least before Argentina's recent economic collapse). Don't cry for Argentina, because it is blessed with ample IQ (96). But it's dragged down by a notorious lack of economic and political self-discipline. In contrast, Barbados, despite an average IQ of 78, is one of the most pleasant countries in the 3rd World due to its commitment to maintaining a veddy, veddy English culture.

"On the other hand, hundreds of billions in private investment have poured into China, which, despite its parasitical ruling caste, has enjoyed strong economic growth. So what's the story behind this story? Apparently, capital flows to where wages are low but IQs are high - pre-eminently China, where the average IQ is two points higher than the U.S. already and likely to go higher as economic development continues."

For an alphabetical country list on GDP/ person, see

Or - which adds Population Density, Life Expectancy, Literacy Rate, and Fertility Rate to the income data comparisons

Go to: Success of Nations - the causes

Go to: Ranking of Nations on economic competitiveness

Go to: Corruption, Income, and IQ rankings of nations

Go to: Home page on Success


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