Wealth and intelligence

News.com.au reports:

RICH kids can be just as thick as their poorer classmates, a Labor Party senator declared yesterday.

The parliamentary secretary for housing and homelessness, Senator Doug Cameron, rubbished “inconclusive research” by the Productivity Commission linking poor kids’ genes to their failure at school.

“I don’t agree that if you’re born rich you’re born more intelligent,” he told News Limited.

“You’ve only got to look at some rich people to understand that’s not the case.”

The Productivity Commission cited genetic “inherited abilities” as one of the reasons rich kids outperform poor children at school, in a provocative report published yesterday.

The federal government’s main policy advisory agency cited “parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited genes” at the top of a list of reasons why kids from poor families lag behind those from wealthy homes.

At an individual level, of course not all rich people are intelligent and vice-versa. We all know many contra examples of this.

But are there some linkages overall, on average?

Let’s be clear about the differences between correlation and causation.

Is intelligence affected by both genetics and environment? Yes.

If all other things are equal, will the children of intelligent parents tend to be more intelligent than the the children of less intelligent parents? Yes – there is some genetic basis to intelligence.

Do those with higher intelligence tend to, on average, be in higher paid jobs and hence earn more money? Yes, but again only on average – not all.

So will those born to wealthier parents tend to on average be more intelligent? Yes, not due to their wealth but the correlation between wealth and intelligence and the fact that intelligence of parents does have some causative impact on children’s intelligence.

But again this is an average, not a prediction for all or even most people. Environment and parenting skills have a huge impact also on a child’s intelligence.

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