I read a dossier in a newspaper about the falling of the IQ. For decades the IQ was increasing, known as the Flynn-Effect. My question here is not, if the IQ is really falling, make up your own mind about it (some sources and keywords you can find here and here).

In the dossier calcuations where stated, claiming an average drop of IQ of 5 points in EU cause socioeconomical losses of the order of 150 $'s. I was wondering now, how dependent academia is on replensishment of gifted people, if above results and hypothesis are discussed in the academic community?

One could argue, while this is of course no good development, it cannot do much harm to academia and scientific research, as everything is documented and published. But then to me the question came up remembering a current discussion in particle physics and the suggested necessity to further fund it to keep the knowledge and wisdom alive, if really all of the necessary knowledge is published and on a level of comprehension that less talented/intelligent and in number researchers could still maintain and operate, e.g. ISS space station or the CERN particle collider (or nuclear power plants) and proceed with new scientific discoveries?

I'm thankful for any insight or literature reference discussing this issue or very important other direct implications that you think of in your field.

  • If the average drops, does that mean that the max and min also change or can they stay the same?
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 31, 2019 at 18:54
  • 7
    Does anyone really care about IQ? (as an aside, I've never had it measured and I don't know anyone who had it) Mar 31, 2019 at 18:59
  • 4
    I think the main issue you'll find is A) there are many people who are extremely uncomfortable with IQ as a concept, period, and B) your question seems to fit under a "content of research" category, and not a good fit for Stack Exchange. Your question might be a good fit for research in Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Psychometrics, or Evolutionary Biology/Psychology - but it is not something we can given an answer to without conducting new and novel research.
    – BrianH
    Apr 1, 2019 at 0:28
  • I agree with all comments above. But if IQ is evaluated as before, a change of it certainly points to something, whatever . Still I don't get the answer But an use of average IQ might have a sense.
    – Alchimista
    Apr 1, 2019 at 13:20
  • @MassimoOrtolano I've seen it used especially FSIQ in subfields of psychology, especially developmental. Apr 1, 2019 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


To really answer this question properly would require a large research project in itself. For that reason, I will just point out some basic things to be aware of in regard to this issue. One should be careful to differentiate the average of a distribution from its tails (i.e., its extremes). Academics are generally drawn from the upper tails of the IQ distribution (a fancy way of saying they are usually pretty smart) and university students are likewise generally drawn to some degree from the upper tails. Thus, the focus of an analysis on the available people for academic positions and student positions would likely focus on some part of the upper IQ range, rather than on the mean.

There are a number of competing aspects of the "distribution" of IQ that affects the upper range. Firstly, there is the fact that the underlying population numbers may also change. If the size of the total population grows, and the proportion of people in a particular upper IQ range drops, then there may nonetheless be an increase in the absolute number of people in that range, meaning that institutions could be sustained with such people. Similarly, if the mean of a distribution of a quantity drifts downward over time, but its skewness increases, the proportion in the upper tail may remain roughly the same (or even increase). In academia the more relevant quantity is the number of PhD graduates in different fields, since these make up most of the pool of qualified applicants for academic positions.

Ultimately, personnel issues for a university are like personnel issues for every other institution --- they are determined by supply and demand. If the supply of people with the skills to be academics decreases, and the demand for academics remains the same, then the "price" of those people will rise. Similar pressures on other institutions would presumably lead to the same result. Thus, if the intelligence of the population were to drop substantially in general, this would have a lot of bad repercussions for any institutions that require highly-intelligent people for the work they do.

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