The Geography of German IQ

I posted about German regional academic performance back in 2016.

The evidence seemed to indicate that German IQ was fairly uniform across Germany, once you took the immigrants out.

However, soon afterwards I got the following curious email from one Carolin:

I stumbled upon a few studies (one done by the German military, when there was still a mandatory draft), that put the regional differences at much higher values than a few IQ points. Basically, there were many regions, where the AVERAGE recruit was in the best/worst 10%, which would dwarf even the black-white-gap.

You can read the report here (I can’t read German so you’ll have to tell me the details):

Map of conscript test performance according to a 1998 study:


What I take to be some test administered in schools:


They also reference another school test carried out by Bertelsmann and published in the Deutsche Lernatlas around 2011:




Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. German_reader says

    The pdf you linked to states: “the lower the unemployment rate in a region, the higher the general cognitive level”. Basically they claim the unequal intelligence distribution in Germany is due to more intelligent people having left economically depressed regions for regions with better job prospects (e.g. Bavaria)…the obvious example being East Germany which suffered massive population loss to the west before 1961 and then again after reunification in the 1990s.
    The graphic from the Bertelsmann study apparently is more generally about education systems.

  2. Be in the worst 10% translates to be 1.28 SD below the norm mean. Be in the best 90% translates to be above 1.28 SD. The difference is too huge to be explained by IQ.
    Someone explain me: if I had a too low score, can I avoid serve the army?

  3. This makes sense … brighter people moving to areas with better economic prospects. This might also explain Karlin’s evidence in an earlier posting that the IQs of people in Madrid were higher than the people in Catalonia.

    London has been described as the center of an empire that colonized the British Isles before colonizing the rest of their empire. One might say the same thing about Spain … and France. Indeed, this is a model for the imperial world. An imperial power tends to concentrate power and wealth at the center with the wealth and power very slowly leaking to the periphery. Ambitious people with ability would, therefore, over time, concentrate in the center.

    Hence, I would suspect that the IQs in London would be higher than in Manchester and that the IQs in Paris would be higher than in Marseilles. Same for the IQs in La Paz in Bolivia and Lima in Peru compared to outlying Amerindian villages.

    Race is without question a factor in IQ … but power relations within a culture are also a factor with respect to where people with relatively higher IQs congregate over time. Power evidently attracts people with higher IQs to take advantage of that power and the wealth it can command.

  4. Hence, I would suspect that the IQs in London would be higher than in Manchester and that the IQs in Paris would be higher than in Marseilles. Same for the IQs in La Paz in Bolivia and Lima in Peru compared to outlying Amerindian villages.

    You don’t have to suspect – higher IQs in capital cities are a common pattern.


    Also true for Moscow.

    That said, I am not sure if it will still be true for London or Paris today (especially amongst schoolchildren), thanks to mass immigration. Though they will still retain an outsized percentage of their countries’ respective smart fractions.

  5. Thanks for the explanation.

    Though yes, as Rodolfo says, the magnitude of the difference seems strange.

  6. Anatoly, I suspected you would come back with that rejoinder with respect to lower IQ immigrants congregating in London and Paris. Perhaps the next study for London will bifurcate the native and immigrant populations to clearly differentiate the IQs of the servant classes from those of the bankers.

    Indeed, I recall an earlier blog posting in the Unz Review (was this your’s?) that declared that the new immigrants to Germany had already measurably lowered the average IQ in the country.

    But I digress from my own line of reasoning about higher IQs in capital cities within countries with an imperial power structure. That is clearly not the case in Washington, DC. Anyone with an explanation?

  7. German_reader says

    That is clearly not the case in Washington, DC. Anyone with an explanation?

    Somewhat speculative on my part, but isn’t Washington just the political centre of the US? It’s not really an economic/financial or intellectual centre like London or Paris have been for a long time, there are other US cities like New York for that.
    Its population also is much, much smaller than London’s or Paris’, and iirc for much of its existence it was rather underdeveloped (wasn’t much of it basically swampland well into the 19th century? EDIT: – ok, after some googling I’ve found that seems to be a myth).

  8. That is clearly not the case in Washington, DC. Anyone with an explanation?

    They are really not that stupid, they just have to play the part in order to get the votes.

  9. I would expect that specifically Merkel’s immigrants haven’t yet had time to lower the scores yet, but yes, Germany is one of the countries most negatively affected by immigration in terms of IQ:

    I know you’re being sarcastic. But to answer the question seriously anyway:

    Washington D.C.’s whites are super-elite, are 4 points above Massachussets, will average 110 on the PISA-adjusted IQ scale:

    This is reflected in other measures of success, such as its GDP per capita being 3x higher than the second state (Massachussetts, you guessed it) and its Whites living 3 years more than the next longest lived Whites, those of Minnesota:,%22sort%22:%22desc%22%7D

    The reason Washington D.C. has an unimpressive average IQ is of course because of its being 50% Black.

  10. Also, many cognitive elites who work in D.C. live in sub/exurbs in MD and VA. There is a reason why several of the top-ten median income counties are D.C. sub/exurbs.

    While it’s true that D.C. has been gentrified with more whites in the recent years, once these people pair up and have children, they move out of D.C. to the surrounding counties and beyond. Loudoun County in VA used to be all farms and horse barns only 15-20 years ago, but now boasts a massive tech/gov/mil industry and the highest median income in the country. Aside from high IQ whites, the region also has a large number of high IQ South and East Asians, who are almost absent within D.C.

    I might also add that the longest living males in the U.S. are Asians in Fairfax County, VA (the longest living females are Asians in Bergen County, NJ).

  11. Same for the IQs in La Paz in Bolivia and Lima in Peru compared to outlying Amerindian villages.

  12. cities tend to have higher iqs, because thats were the education centers are
    or better access to information. that will change if you import lots of lower iq non-Europeans over time.

    if I read right in Germany, the higher score regions are more conservative/nationalist. my understanding is that Southeast is Catholic majority and NorthEast is more secular, but both are more European white?
    (did i read that right, correct me)

  13. German_reader says

    my understanding is that Southeast is Catholic majority and NorthEast is more secular, but both are more European white?

    East Germany in general is secular, the GDR did a thorough job of de-Christianizing the people there. Much fewer migrants and their descendants there than in West Germany…but the North-East (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) has few people in general, much of it is very rural…I can believe that on average people there are pretty dumb, the more intelligent people have been fleeing the region for the last 25 years.
    Bavaria is mostly Catholic (with some Protestants though in Franconia), but of course it’s increasingly secularized as well. Quite a lot of migrants there, with percentages among children in many towns and cities I regard as rather shocking…but on the whole right now it works much better than dysfunctional states like North-Rhine-Westphalia with its badly integrated Turks.


    Why did Adenauer dislike the eastern Germans, think Berlin was expendable and consider the River Elbe to be the natural frontier? Simple: he knew that the Elbe was Germany’s Mason-Dixon line. Beyond it lay the flat, grim Prussian heartlands, which until 1945 stretched into present-day Russia. This vast region was known to Germans as “Ostelbien” – East Elbia. Adenauer viewed the “unification” of Germany in 1871 as East Elbia’s annexation of the west. That’s why in 1919, as mayor of Cologne, and again in 1923, he tried to get Britain and France to back a breakaway western German state. Having failed, he is said to have muttered, “Here we go, Asia again,” and closed the blinds every time his train crossed east over the Elbe. […]

    Since 1990, the former East Germany has received more than €2trn from the old West Germany, for a fast-ageing, shrinking and disproportionately male population of only 16 million, including Berlin. That’s the equivalent of a Greek bailout every year since 1990, and as a straight gift, not a loan. This represents a huge shift in financial priorities, overshadowing Germany’s annual net EU budget contribution (currently €15.5bn). In 1990, Kohl promised that western German aid would soon turn the new states into “blooming” areas, but they have become, instead, proof that age-old differences resist even the most gigantic subsidies.

    According to the late Robert Gayre, “the Elbe is a pronounced ethnographic frontier “.

  15. That’s what I’ve been stressing in my posts: the Elbe-Saale
    frontier is the true dividing line in Europe. Even today when
    I visit East Germany, including places like Weimar, I immediately
    pick up the Prussian heaviness in the air which I don’t detect in
    Frankfurt – the latter has the Western lightness of spirit, at least
    it did during my last visit. No wonder Nietzsche detested Prussia.
    I don’t think this has to do necessarily with going east – Poland,
    except under the Communist rule, has a natural lightness of
    spirit, joie de vivre if you will which I associate with Catholicism.
    So do Austria and Hungary for similar reasons. Central Europe
    has always been a more humane region, and not just during the
    Blue Danube era.

    As I posted before, it was the Saxon incursions across the Elbe-Saale
    frontier (Limes Saxoniae – border of Saxony) into the Polabian Slav
    territory after Charlemagne’s death in 814 AD that indirectly
    precipitated the formation of what came to be known as Poland
    in the late 800s-early 900s.

  16. There seems to be a pretty clear positive correlation between the higher IQ / better learning environment areas and and vote percentage for the oh-so-populist-if-not-outright-neo-Nazi AfD party (according to the Cathedral, that is) in last Sunday’s general election.

    Qualification: The correlation applies separately for each of what used to be West and East Germany. Even in the lower IQ areas of the East the AfD vote share was higher than in the higher IQ areas of the West. So, while IQ is not the only factor, statistically it seems to be a quite important one in determining relative AfD affinity. This flies in the face of the commonplace assumption that the AfD is the party of stupid loser populations.

  17. I take it the District of Columbia is the exception to this thought.
    $20 Trillion debt, endless no-win wars, destroying their own medical system, etc., etc.

  18. OT: could you give anecdotal observations of the effect of Merkel’s Million Moslem March upon the places you visit in Germany, before/after?

  19. >>Somewhat speculative on my part, but isn’t Washington just the political centre of the US? It’s not really an economic/financial or intellectual centre like London or Paris have been for a long time, there are other US cities like New York for that.

    Yeah, but Washington DC is the center of graft (honest graft they would say) of an unprecedented scale. Naturally, lots, and lots of smart people would gravitate there to grab as much as they could.

    DC produces nothing, but there is so much money sloshing around, the smart just can’t resist.

  20. YetAnotherAnon says

    See this in the New Statesman

    “So while it is easy and comfortable to say that the otherness of eastern Germany today is the result of that 40-year Soviet occupation, history says otherwise. East Elbia has always been different. Take the voting patterns: from 1871 to 1933, East Elbia outside Berlin (always a left-liberal political island) was the main electoral reservoir for the authoritarian right. The Prussian Conservative Party under the empire, the Deutschnationale Volkspartei until 1928 and the Nazis from 1930 depended on rural and small-town East Elbian voters. It was they who (just) swung things in 1933, by going 50-60 per cent for the “Hitler coalition”. Had all Germany voted like the Rhineland or Bavaria, Hitler and his Junker allies would have got nowhere close to a majority. Small wonder that Adenauer didn’t want East Elbia back and was secretly delighted to have it safely fenced off behind the Iron Curtain.”

  21. RadicalCenter says

    Great analysis of DC area. I’d just quibble that a disproportionate number of the freak white people who live in DC end up never having any children, so schools or the “need” for a big house are not a factor motivating the majority of them to leave DC for MD or NoVa.

    Also, I think that not only several, but a MAJORITY of the ten highest median-income counties in the USA are in Virginia and Maryland, because of their proximity to our Imperial City.

    Lastly, there are a fair and increasing number of white people with kids on and near Capitol Hill these days, though a casual perusal while strolling around there recently suggests that they are still outnumbered by the homosexuals and the perpetually childless Angry Women and Lawyer/Bureaucrat Women (categories that overlap a wee bit 😉

  22. RadicalCenter says

    People in the former West Germany seem pretty darn secular, too. We socialize with Germans and recently immigrated German-Americans all the time, and almost nobody we know or ever meet who is from Germany — any part of Germany — attends church or is involved with religion, “organized” or otherwise, in any regular or meaningful way.

    Well before the Muslim population approaches parity with the German population in Germany (and other European countries), there will be more active mosques than active churches. Terrifying prospect.

  23. RadicalCenter says

    We had to end a nice acquaintanceship with a German-American woman who “informed” us that “everyone with those people [AfD] is an uneducated racist idiot, they are all the stupid backwards people of Germany” — and then insisted on repeating the claim, angrily, even after we explained that “well, one of our very close family friends is a German who supports the AfD, and she is a brilliant, thoughtful, and kind woman.”

    The wench even refused the invitation to exclude our personal friend from the characterization as “stupid.” That’s how hysterically irrational and rude these self-hating lefties are, and the Germans are the worst I’ve ever encountered. Eine Schande, my people have become.

  24. “That is clearly not the case in Washington, DC. Anyone with an explanation?”

    DC has a very large black population.

  25. byrresheim says

    It should never, ever be forgotten, that Hitler and his cronies were not elected in anything resembling a democratic vote.

    There are, however, obvious, if inacceptable, reasons for arguing as if that were the case.

  26. Presumably, these 10% and 90% etc. figures refer to the regional rankings, not the mean of the individual rankings at state level. Very different because the regional SD is much lower. E.g. for US states, the IQ SD is 2.7 or so, so being the 90th centile state entails a mean IQ of approx. 100 + 1.28 * 2.7 i.e. IQ 103.5.