The Geography Of Russia’s IQ

Human capital (primarily education) is the single most important factor behind long-term productivity gains, and hence economic growth. The relatively high human capital of Russia and China, which is comparable to developed country levels, is the most important reason why I rate their future prospects much higher than those of the other two BRIC’s, Brazil and India.

But the internal distribution of human capital is also very important. For instance, in Italy there is an almost perfect correlation between regional PISA scores in Math and Science, and regional GDP’s. I have long wanted to find a similar data set for Russia, and I finally did so today in Jarkko Hautamäki’s slideshow comparing regional PISA performance in Finland and Russia. Based on the figures there I estimated the PISA scores (Math and Science) for Russia’s regions and compiled the map below.

russia-map-pisa-results-2009

The results by each of the 44 Russian regions which participated in PISA are reproduced below*:

Region PISA 2009
Moscow 546
Saint-Petersburg 519
Tyumen oblast 506
Novosibirsk 502
Chelyabinsk oblast 499
Omsk oblast 497
Samara oblast 496
Vladimir oblast 494
Tula oblast 492
Karelia 489
Tatarstan 489
Komi 488
Tomsk oblast 488
Primorsky krai 483
Krasnoyarsk 482
Chuvashia 482
Udmurtia 478
Sakhalin oblast 477
Saratov oblast 475
RUSSIA 475
Tambov oblast 474
Moscow oblast 472
Volgograd oblast 471
Vologda oblast 470
Kemerovo oblast 470
Altai krai 468
Astrakhan oblast 467
Ryazan oblast 466
Kursk oblast 465
Khanty-Mansiysk 463
Bashkortostan 458
Krasnodar 457
Perm krai 457
Rostov oblast 457
Nizhny Novgorod 456
Voronezh oblast 453
Orenburg oblast 453
Kaluga oblast 446
Sverdlovsk oblast 446
Ulyanovsk oblast 445
Adygea 443
Stavropol 441
Mari El 436
Dagestan 426
Chita oblast 425
Sakha (Yakutia) 419

There are any numbers of comments one can make, but I will confine myself to the most important ones:

(1) In some regions, margins of error are high, as samples were low. Nonetheless, it is still possible to identify concrete patterns.

(2) Moscow pupils performed very well, at the level of the highest scoring OECD countries like Finland, Taiwan, and Korea. This is especially impressive considering the significant numbers of immigrants in that city from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, who come from poorly-scoring countries and rarely have good Russian.

(3) St.-Petersburg and Tyumen oblast performed above the OECD average, while a few other regions performed at or only slightly below the OECD average.

(4) Among ethnic Russian republics, Siberian regions performed well, while the Urals and southern regions performed badly.

(5) Performance in ethnic minority republics differs dramatically. Many of the Turkic and Finno-Ugric regions, such as Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Karelia did well; however, Mari El is a big exception. The Buddhist peoples of Asia, such as Chita oblast (now merged into Zabaykalsky Krai) and the Sakha Republic, performed relatively poorly, as did the Muslim North Caucasus region of Dagestan. Extrapolating from Dagestan, Chechnya would probably score around 400, i.e. like Brazil.

Bear these figures in mind when considering long-term investments into Russia alongside with their business climate, corruption levels, etc.

Finally, there is a table below comparing individual Russian regions with countries around the world. (The Ukraine didn’t participate in PISA 2009, but extrapolating from its TIMMS scores, its rating should be around 454. The OECD average is about 500.) I have bolded countries and Russian regions which are especially useful, in my opinion, for comparative purposes.

Region PISA 2009
 China: Shanghai 588
 Hong Kong 552
 Singapore 552
 Finland 548
Moscow 546
 Korea 542
 China 537
 Japan 534
 Chinese Taipei 532
 Canada 528
 Liechtenstein 528
 New Zealand 526
 Switzerland 526
 Netherlands 524
 Australia 521
 Estonia 520
Saint-Petersburg 519
 China: Macao 518
 Germany 517
 Belgium 511
 Slovenia 507
Tyumen oblast 506
 United Kingdom 503
Novosibirsk 502
 Iceland 502
 Poland 502
 Denmark 501
Chelyabinsk oblast 499
 Norway 499
 France 498
 Ireland 498
Omsk oblast 497
 Czech Republic 497
 Hungary 497
Samara oblast 496
 Austria 495
 Sweden 495
 United States 495
Vladimir oblast 494
 Slovak Republic 494
Tula oblast 492
 Portugal 490
Karelia 489
Tatarstan 489
Komi 488
 Latvia 488
Tomsk oblast 488
 Luxembourg 487
 Italy 486
 Spain 486
 Lithuania 484
Primorsky krai 483
Krasnoyarsk 482
Chuvashia 482
Udmurtia 478
Sakhalin oblast 477
Saratov oblast 475
Russia 475
Tambov oblast 474
 Croatia 473
Moscow oblast 472
Volgograd oblast 471
Vologda oblast 470
Kemerovo oblast 470
 Greece 468
Altai krai 468
Astrakhan oblast 467
Ryazan oblast 466
Kursk oblast 465
Khanty-Mansiysk 463
 Malta 462
Bashkortostan 458
Krasnodar 457
Perm krai 457
Rostov oblast 457
Nizhny Novgorod 456
Voronezh oblast 453
Orenburg oblast 453
 Israel 451
 Turkey 450
Kaluga oblast 446
Sverdlovsk oblast 446
Ulyanovsk oblast 445
Adygea 443
 Serbia 443
Stavropol 441
Mari El 436
 Chile 434
 Bulgaria 434
 United Arab Emirates 430
 Romania 428
 Uruguay 427
Dagestan 426
Chita oblast 425
 Thailand 422
 Costa Rica 420
Sakha (Yakutia) 419
 Mauritius 419
 Mexico 418
 Malaysia 413
 Trinidad & Tobago 412
 Venezuela 410
 Moldova 405
 Kazakhstan 403
 Azerbaijan 402
 Montenegro 402
 Jordan 401
 Brazil 396
 Argentina 395
 Colombia 392
 Tunisia 386
 Albania 384
 Indonesia 377
 Georgia 376
 Qatar 374
 Panama 368
 Peru 367
 India 341
 Kyrgyzstan 331

* Methodological note: In reality, the figures given were for all three components of PISA (i.e., Reading, as well as Math and Science). I just assumed there is a perfect correlation in relative performance in Reading as compared to Math and Science (a valid one, I think, as the cross-national evidence indicates this relation is very close), and adjusted from Russia’s Math and Science score. The reason is for the Russian figures to have compatibility with my Human Capital Index, which is the average of PISA and/or TIMSS Math & Science scores.

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