Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The relationship between intelligence and wealth

Well, the bad news for us underachieving geniuses is that there is no relationship between intelligence and wealth, at least according to this recent US study. Apparently, people do not become rich because they are smart!

Naturally, this revelation is going to shake up some priorities. Being smart allows people to sail through high school without really trying, waddle through college while having a good time, and build up a sizable ego along the way. Sadly, it seems it's not going to help me make my millions.

When I saw the headline "Intelligence not linked to wealth", I was actually thinking that they were looking at wealth as the cause rather than the effect. Meaning, people being smart because they're rich, rather than being rich because they are smart. Either way, it doesn't seem totally crazy to assume that one goes along with the other. How else did rich people get to where they are? What sets them apart from the less-fortunate masses? There's got to be some kind of relationship between wealth and intelligence-- I can't bring myself to accept that the world doesn't reward smart people with any financial success. It's... not logical!

Of course, surely there are smart poor people who can't afford the quality education to reach their potential. Life can be sincerely unfair to good people like that. That is a fact of life, and it is very unfortunate. But totally discounting a link between intelligence and wealth is like saying there's no relationship between tall people and basketball. Tallest doesn't mean best, but it has to count for something. When poor people stay poor because they produce a large family they can't afford, or choose not to send their son to school so he could sell newspapers on the street... that is a sign of less intelligence, is it not?

Maybe it's just that the US has worked out such a high level of development that their system allows people to get rich anyway even with a total lack of intelligence. That doesn't seem to be the way things work here in the Philippines.

They should do another study checking out the relationship between poverty and dirtiness. Those two certainly have a relationship between them, and I see it on the streets every day. They seem to go hand in hand, and often with no good reason. Like the guy that pees on the wall beside a busy street... is he peeing on the wall because he's poor, or is he poor because he's peeing on on wall? Or maybe is there an external factor that causes both. Intelligence, perhaps? Aha..


  1. It seems you haven't read Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad. There, he points out precisely why people who are smart academically don't necessarily become rich. There is something about handling financial stuff and entrepreneurship that's never taught in schools.

  2. Except neither the article nor this essay specify that intelligence = academic performance.

  3. I actually did read the first chapter (or was that just the introduction..) of Rich Dad, Poor Dad-- the chapter where he downplays academics and employment. But even the financially savvy people that own the means of production and all that stuff... they've got to be smart people too. Generally.

  4. Miguel, that's true, but the intelligence-academics link is at least implied by Mike's post. Anyway, I'd guess that financial savviness does require some sort of smarts, not just the general intelligence that's measured by IQ. There's Howard Gardner's "Seven Types of Intelligence;" maybe there's such a thing as financial intelligence?

  5. Opportunities also make a lot of smart (as compared to intelligent) people rich. Believe me, I've have met quite a few fellow, came to this country with nothing but their suitcase and with not much to their resume and a few years later run a multi-million empires or becomes big time professionals. It is a combination of lot of factors, smartness is one of them.