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Where Do the Smartest People Move?


Stashed in: Intelligence

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A new report finds that higher intelligence is linked with rural-to-city migration, and with city-to-suburb movement.

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Comments suggest (scream!) this is a controversial article.

It's not that it's controversial, it's that the conclusions are unclear:

As for the intelligence shifts from cities to rural areas, found once socioeconomic status was factored in, Jokela has no good explanation. "I assume this is a very special group of people," he says—perhaps converted city residents returning to their country roots.

The findings should be taken with caution. Jokela's statistical analysis couldn't determine if intelligence actually caused the moves, just that the two were linked. Migration patterns might well have changed after 1996, when Jokela cut off the study window for geographic consistency. Another crucial caveat is that the actual difference in IQs (as opposed to cognitive percentiles) wasn't very large among all groups, typically only a few points (and always five or less).

Which brings up perhaps Jokela's most interesting finding: The very highest IQ levels were found not among people who grew up in city centers but among those who grew up in rural areas and ended up in cities. That suggests longer migration distances into the city "require individuals to have increasingly high IQ to make the move," he says. Call them restless intellects if you will. Just don't call them country bumpkins.

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