Hamburgers And Rednecks: IQ Estimates Of US Ethnic Groups

Via The Audacious Epigone: IQ scores by US ethnic groups. It is not very useful I think in theoretical or practical applications but it is interesting as a showcase of why IQ is more than just genetic inheritance, incorporating also Flynn, sampling issues, sense of popular identity, selection bias, etc.

Wordsum is basically a vocab test of 10 words (example). While one might not expect such a quick and simple test to accurately reflect IQ it actually does – the correlation between Wordsum scores and IQ is about 0.71. Respondents got to choose the one or two ethnic groups to which they belong. (See table below)

By and large, the results are as we would expect:

(1) Many of the Russians (about 50%) are, of course, Ashkenazi Jews. Explained.

(2) At first puzzling is the fact that Germans score considerably below the Irish, Mediterraneans (Italians, Greeks, French) and Slavics (Poles, Czechs). This is an inversion of European PISA results in which native Germans got 105 compared to France’s 101, Poland’s 100, Italy’s 98, Greece’s 96, etc. There are two reasons for this I think:

(a) As Ron Unz correctly points out, all other things equal rural people almost always score worse than urban people. Maybe rural life just isn’t as mentally stimulating. Almost certainly there exist strong dysgenic processes (every generation it is the brightest people who leave the farm). But this effect probably isn’t that strong as there are very few Americans still living on the farm today.

(b) As I think hbd chick pointed out, some lineages are more prestigious than others. The Irish and Italians, in particular, are cool. In practice almost everyone in American cities is mixed to some extent. So even if someone is primarily Germanic, he might pass himself off as a Latino or Irishman. So the higher scores of most Italians, Greeks, Irish, Swedes, Norwegians, Hungarians, etc., etc., may well reflect the Germanic substrate more than anything else.

(c) The Germans who came to America mostly came from the northern parts (e.g. the hamburger originated in… Hamburg). And various studies indicate that just as Germany is a genetically diverse nation by European standards so there are significant IQ differentials by regions. Generally speaking, the south is cleverer than the north.

So, we have three major factors: The regional specifics of German immigration to the US; the greater relative prestige of “exotic” ethnic groups together with the “melting pot” culture of American cities; their greater share of the rural population. They may explain why ethnic German IQ in the US is fairly low relative to other European population groups.

Ancestry IQ
Russian 105.2
Austrian 104.5
Swiss 103.6
Danish 102.6
English/Welsh 102.4
Norwegian 102.1
Hungarian 101.6
Scottish 101.5
Swedish 101.3
Czech 100.4
Italian 100.4
French 100.0
Irish 99.7
Polish 99.7
Greek 99.0
French Canadian 98.7
German 98.5
Other Canadian 96.2
Dutch 95.9
(White) “American” 94.2
Spanish 92.4
Native American 91.2
African 89.9
Puerto Rican 89.9
“American” 88.7
Mexican 87.7

(3) The Dutch are especially low, though I suppose that this could be partly accounted for by the fact that a substantial number of them are Pennsylvania Dutch, i.e. Amish. They reject modern technology. Presumably, the Flynn Effect isn’t strong in them.

(4) The Spanish are presumably a mix of real Spaniards (with IQ’s typical of the other Med nations – around 98) and Mexicans (who have an IQ somewhere in the mid to high 80’s, as a result of Amerindian admixture as well as some degree of under-development). They are thus exactly where one would expect them to be.

(5) White “Americans” are typically Scotch-Irish in the Deep South. Here there is an element of self-selection bias because they are people who either forgot or don’t care about their ethnic origins. I.e., rednecks.

(6) Africans score a respectable (by US black standards) 89. Probably because African immigrants tend to be far above the African average. They are also those people who didn’t answer “American”. Of the “Americans”, more than half are black. Since the white “American” average is 94, and the “American” average 89, that means that the black “American” average   should be something like 85.

I don’t know how many black “Americans” and “Africans” there were relative to each other but at a minimum we can say that the average for this group is in the 85-89 range. This is exactly coincident with all other conventional estimates.

(7) The Swiss scores are not surprising. They are a very intelligent people. The Austrians might be something of an outlier as I imagine their sample size is quite low. Also the dumber Austrians may have identified themselves as Germans.

(8) All the other ethnic groups appear to be more or less where we would expect them to be based on the performance of their original home countries.

  • ironrailsironweights

    Some Amish may be called “Pennsylvania Dutch” but they’re actually of German origin. The “Dutch” in the Pennsylvania Dutch is a variation on “Deutsch.”

    I’m surprised that there are no Asian groups included. It would be interesting to see the effect that language might have on their Wordsum scores and, in turn, on their extrapolated I.Q. scores.

    • AK

      Thanks for that info about the Amish. In that case the Dutch results are indeed rather puzzling. According to this map the greatest concentration of Dutch is around the Great Lakes but I don’t see how that can play a role. Maybe they’re overwhelmingly rural? Or maybe the sample size was just really low?…

      I would imagine East Asian Wordsum scores will be similar to the white American average. Their big advantage is in spatial intelligence, not verbal.

      • Technocracy

        The concentration of the Dutch around the Great Lakes is primarily the Grand Rapids area. A “big small town” sort of feel to it. Not necessarily rural, but not very urban either. And potentially a small sample size.

  • charly

    c) Are you sure that the American Germans came from the north? Doesn’t seem logical as the South was poorer

    • Technocracy

      A large percentage of the German-Americans originated from areas of conflict, chaos, and revolution. That sounds far more northern than the relative calm of Bavaria for most of the lead-up to unification.

      • charly

        Wasn’t the 1848 revolution based in the Southern?

      • victor

        German protestants (who are more common in the North and in the Rhine valley) are more common in the USA than German catholics (who are common in Bavaria).

  • Dan

    Let me make it abundantly clear: I think the data suggesting German Americans have lower than average intelligence is flat-out wrong.

    Here is a mapping of white IQ by state.

    “upper Midwestern states, including Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, have the highest proportion of German Americans at over one-third”

    Every state among these German ones ranks above 101.

    You can also see that the states where Germanic surnames dominate are always above average intelligence.

    • Technocracy

      Correlation with white states. The states with the highest proportion of German-Americans is also correlated with the whitest states. Very possible that the German-Americans have the lowest of the major white ethnicity, but are still in the smartest states because of the influence of other major white ethnic groups.

      • Georgia Resident

        The map he cited specifically mapped white IQs by state, so it wouldn’t be affected by nonwhite populations.

  • Dan

    ” The Austrians might be something of an outlier as I imagine their sample size is quite low.”

    As an Austrian I must disagree; on the one hand you say Southern Germans are smarter than Northerners and then are surprised that Austrians do well? Eastern Austria and Southern Germany were for a long time part of the same country. Western Austria abuts Switzerland which you have a very high opinion of.

    We did originate economics, classical music and much of high Civilization with a very small population. Have you ever seen the art and architecture of Vienna? Austria, with few natural resources and while being more inward-looking (these days; a Viennese person from a century ago was second to none in worldliness) than some of its neighbors is presently one of the richest countries in the world.

    • AK

      Ease up. I wasn’t dissing on Austrians, just mentioning that their 104.5 average IQ in the US is somewhat higher than the 101 for Austrian natives derived from PISA. This discrepancy may be just a fluke, or down to any number of factors. It certainly isn’t as large, significant, or puzzling as the German Germans (PISA) / American Germans (Wordsum) discrepancy.

      • charly

        German Americans are probably mostly 5th generation but any Austrian American is probably first generation and with it a giant selection effect. Western Europeans (ex. Irish) that immigrated in the last 50 years to the US are on the whole highly educated

  • Dan

    Re Austria, I’m going to go with Wikipedia now…
    –begin excerpt–
    Austria was the cradle of numerous scientists with international reputation. Among them are Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess and Christian Doppler, prominent scientists in the 19th century. In the 20th century, contributions by Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger and Wolfgang Pauli to nuclear research and quantum mechanics were key to these areas’ development during the 1920s and 1930s. A present-day quantum physicist is Anton Zeilinger, noted as the first scientist to demonstrate quantum teleportation.

    In addition to physicists, Austria was the birthplace of two of the most noteworthy philosophers of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. In addition to them, biologists Gregor Mendel and Konrad Lorenz as well as mathematician Kurt Gödel and engineers such as Ferdinand Porsche and Siegfried Marcus were Austrians.

    A focus of Austrian science has always been medicine and psychology, starting in medieval times with Paracelsus. Eminent physicians like Theodore Billroth, Clemens von Pirquet, and Anton von Eiselsberg have built upon the achievements of the 19th century Vienna School of Medicine. Austria was home to psychologists Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

    The Austrian School of Economics, which is prominent as one of the main competitive directions for economic theory, is related to Austrian economists Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Other noteworthy Austrian-born émigrés include the management thinker Peter Drucker, sociologist Paul Felix Lazarsfeld scientist Sir Gustav Nossal and the 38th Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    –end excerpt–

    There you have a lot of history’s uppermost physicists, philosophers, biologists, psychologists, economists and its greatest mathematician. We have not even touched upon classical music, of which Austria claims an 87% ownership stake (only slightly kidding).

    • Scowspi

      Let’s bear in mind that Austria used to be the center of a large empire, and was able to draw on much broader territory for its distinguished persons than it is today.

      To take one field – music – some of the great composers associated with Vienna weren’t native to Austria (Beethoven and Brahms were North Germans; Mahler was a Bohemian Jew). And just off the top of my head, Freud, Gödel, Mach, Karl Kraus, and a number of others came from Bohemia or Moravia. So we have to define whether we’re talking about the Austrian Empire, or the Austrian Republic.

      Also (since US ethnic groups are the subject here), for a long time Austrian immigrants to the USA were recorded as “German,” along with Bavarians, Prussians and everyone else from German-speaking Europe.

      To sum up: trying to separate Germans, Austrians, Swiss (etc.) in ethnic terms (as opposed to present-day political ones) is problematic and can lead to confusion.

      • Dan

        “Let’s bear in mind that Austria used to be the center of a large empire, and was able to draw on much broader territory for its distinguished persons than it is today.”

        “And just off the top of my head, Freud, Gödel, Mach, Karl Kraus, and a number of others came from Bohemia or Moravia. So we have to define whether we’re talking about the Austrian Empire, or the Austrian Republic.”

        Fingers in ears… la la la.

        Haha, point taken. Can’t blame a guy for cheering for his home team tho, right?

  • Jennifer Hor

    Can’t remember where I saw it but I read somewhere that in the nineteenth century Swedish and Finnish migrants to the Great Lakes region and the Northwest area (Washington state, Oregon) were regarded as slow and stupid and were the butt of many ethnic jokes about “straw heads”. Most of these migrants were hired by railway companies for their wood-cutting and chopping skills, not for their ability to talk. Until Nokia came along, Swedes and Finns had a reputation for not talking much.

  • ironrailsironweights

    I’d caution against reading too much into ethnic identification among whites. With relatively few exceptions the European ancestry is several generations in the past, and in most cases people who identify as being from one group are actually well-mixed. I’ll guess that surnames are the most common basis for ethnic self-identification. For example, if your father’s father’s father’s father was a German immigrant named Schmidt you may well choose “German” as your ethnic background on a survey because your surname is Schmidt, never mind that you’re a mishmash of ancestries and have no ties whatsoever to German culture.

  • Albo

    So half of those of Russian ancestry are Ashkenazi Jews, but in which groups the rest of them is distributed? I would say mostly Polish, Hungarian probably not in the similar proportions but it should have an effect too. But I don’t find it very serious that we have national as well as ethnic categories, ie “African” should separate between African-Americans (descended from slaves) and immigrants from say, Nigeria. Even if “American” comprises many African-American apparently, I’m sure many are in the African category also.

    So if we have ethnic categories, they should have added “Jewish” as well to avoid confusions. Since it’s self reported, I wonder in fact if some of the Jews who came from Germany or Austria back then still want to identify as German or Austrian (I think a lot of Jews came from there, too). If I were one I would have chosen “other” and my results wouldn’t be included in the list, and may be it’s also true to some extent with Russian, Polish, Hungarian categories.

    All in all with the caveat you mentioned, that is that most ancestry are in fact mixed, I would say that self-reported ancestry is more representative of patrilinear origin than anything else.

  • Russians’ average IQ is 96 but the average IQ of the Russian emigrants to the US is 105,2. Maybe those who claim that the best and brightest people in Russia are leaving the country are not wrong after all? Although most of the people who fled the country probably did so in the 1990’s.

    • AK

      (1) A majority of the Russian emigrants to the US in that survey would be Russian-stock Jews who arrived in the 1890’s-1910’s.

      (2) It is a well-known fact that those Russians who arrived in the US in the 1990’s (or the 1970’s-80’s) were well above the Russian average because they were (a) Jews and/or (b) academics.

  • As I just pointed out on that Epigone blogsite, you might want to separate your “Irish” category by Catholic vs. Protestant. A sharp-eyed commenter somewhere noticed that the “Irish” ethnicity seems to lump together the Irish-Irish (who are urban and have very high Wordsum-IQ) with the Scots-Irish (who are heavily rural and have very low Wordsum-IQ). When I did that stratification, I didn’t bother with AGE or BORN, but I doubt that would impact the Irish too much, and my Irish Wordsum-IQ came out right near the top, very close to the Russian category.

    To my mind, that’s another bit of evidence for my Urban/Rural Hypothesis, since the Irish in Europe had a very low IQ when they were overwhelmingly rural, while in America, they’re very heavily urban and have an extremely high Wordsum-IQ.

    • AK

      Thanks for commenting.

      Just to be clear, I am not disputing the urban/rural hypothesis. It is true. What does need to be established is its general magnitude. One has to systematically amalgamate data beyond just the Irish and Irish-Americans, though I understand that it’s a substantial undertaking and beyond the scope of one article.

      PS. Since you’re here, I’d like to draw to your attention that my comment to one of your articles ( was unfairly spammed. It was in response to your comment “Once the full PISA results for China are eventually released…” The fact is that they have been released on the Chinese Internet and the average figures are now known, it’s just that that hasn’t made a splash in the West; and I linked to those figures.
      PSS. They show China’s (converted from PISA) IQ as 103, which is very respectable but still somewhat below Korea’s 107. I disagree with your contention that the Flynn Effect doesn’t operate among East Asians (though I grand you that it may not be as large) so that constitutes some support for that notion.

      • Thanks—that’s very interesting about the China results, and it does probably tend to support the view that China might have a moderate socioeconomic Flynn Effect, given the huge difference in per capita income with South Korea.

        And I’m sorry about your comment being spammed. Frankly, I don’t really have anything to do with operating the TAC website, and although I’ve always suggested they be very open to all comments, they claim lots of them are so nasty they’d scare off all the regular TAC readers. But I’ll see if I can somehow locate and retrieve your fine comment, though it may have been vaporized.

        • AK

          Hey Ron,

          Just in case you’re still here, please check out my latest article.

          It’s a reproduction of my original comment but with 100x as much detail.

    • charly

      In North Ireland the Protestants were the more intelligent ones. Which again shows that on a group level IQ is cultural

      • Ger

        Charley–Sorry to burst your bubble but check out the high results from Catholic schools in the North of Ireland, they leave the so called Ulster Scot protestants in the halfpenny place.It is well known that catholic students in the N of Ireland are highly educated and the scandal about is that the NI protestants are badly educated. With a lower number of catholics in the region there are proportionately far more catholics attending 2nd and 3rd level colleges.

        • charly

          You think i used the past term for a reason?

          ps. Why do you use North of Ireland? Is that another term for Northern Ireland or the North part of the island of Ireland which is part of the republic.

  • Mrcan

    I would just be interested in knowing the average Irish-Catholic IQ. In fairness it would have to include those college educated of Irish Catholic descent, who have for philosophical or theological reasons joined a different church or self identify as no religion. I know that in Ireland they acknowledged they were behind educationally and how they subsequently invested heavily in education to narrow the gap which has paid off. Their PISA scores compare favourably with other Western industrialised nations proving the value of education to intelligence and test results.

  • Jean d’Anjou

    The Episcopalians (Church of England in America) score 109.9 on average, highest of all. They are descended from the leading founding stock Anglo-Americans, the tribe of the Founding Fathers as it were. Today they are often referred to as WASPs. President John Quincy Adams is an example with an estimated IQ of 165-175. It is not at all unusual for these families to score in the 150 plus range.

    America rose to global greatness under their guidance, and has seemingly lost her way and her global reputation since they were thrust aside in the last century. Will American decline continue under its new hostile foreign ruling class (ashkenazi and associated immigrant non-WASPS)? The smart money is already giving us the answer…

    • charly

      WASP’s include Rednecks. Episcopalians are an upper class church. People leave that church if they become lower class and join them when they become upper class so a high average IQ is to be expected as they select for wealth

      • William Huntington

        E. Digby Baltzell coined the term WASP to refer his own kinship group – the ruling class of British America and their descendants: the English gentry in America.

        Redneck is a low-brow ethnic slur used primarily by anti-white racists. It presumably refers to up country and back country border scots-irish of the South who were never included in the definition White Anglo-Saxon Protestant for the obvious reason that they are primarily of Gaelic, Pictish, Celtic ancestry rather than Ango-Saxon.

        • the Scotch-Irish were a mix of Scottish lowlanders and English borderers that had significant Germanic genes.

    • Ger

      Jean danjou–What made America great was the influx of the Irish,German ,Russian and Polish people over the 18th, 19th and well into the 20th century.The so called WASP,s are/were a myth and were nothing but a bunch of racist demagogues with over inflated opinions of themselves.Thank goodness this type of creature is on the wane.
      The Welsh and Highland Scots with some Lowland Scots together with the catholic Irish are entitled to be tied with a very proud Celtic/Gaelic ancestry.I honestly cannot speak for the Scots Irish but I would suggest they may be from some sort of a Celtic background.