I’ve often asked and wondered out loud on this blog about a question that gets at me-the nations that have the highest IQs today, those of northern Europe and eastern Asia, were not the first to be “civilized,” and in fact, lagged for a reasonable amount of time after the first flowering of higher culture in the valleys of the Nile, Tigris & Euphrates and the Indus .
As I was walking down the street I thought of my own family. My grandfathers were men of some success, a doctor of medicine and religion respectively. My father is a chemist while of my mother’s six brothers there are engineers, biologists, officers & businessmen (my father’s brothers are accountants, not as big a deal in my estimation ;). But the demographic transition within these generations have been fast & furious. My grandfathers had 6 and 7 children. Of their sons & daughters, my own parents are the most prolific (three sons, one daughter), all my uncles or aunts have one or two children, and in the case of a few, none. In 2002 Bangladesh’s total fertility rate was 2.72, so there isn’t THAT much of a difference, but most of my aunts and uncles had their children in the 80s or early 90s when the TFR was far higher . I share this only to illustrate how quickly demographic transitions can happen-though my grandfathers were wealthy men, my aunts & uncles are far more well off in terms of consumer goods (perhaps less asset rich in land, but more at ease in general)-and they have quickly transitioned to the western middle-class ideal of one to two children. In contrast, I suspect that a typical Bangladeshi peasant has a higher fertility than this, and in fact, perhaps close what their forbears experienced because of the grotesquely higher infant mortality rates in generations past (since peasants are 90% of Bangladesh’s population, that means a TFR of a little over 2.72-no mean feat).
I myself might not have children-and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of my cousins did not. What does that entail? On an individual level, not much. But my general implication and worry has to do with dysgenesis. Greg Cochran has asserted that the United States has been in positively dysgenic since the late 19th century (and the West as a whole). But civilization hasn’t collapsed…yet.
Past speculation about dysgenesis is often empty and slap-dash, so I won’t get into specifics. But, doing a thought experiment, I think it is plausible that welfare benefits that favor dysgenesis carry within them the seeds of their own destruction, and a future re-equilibration of the mean IQ. As social order collapses and resources become scare, perhaps intelligence once more becomes selectively fit, and the fabric of society stitches itself back together…and the cycle starts again. Over time this function oscillates around the mean IQ and gives one the illusion that human mental capacities have not changed over the past 10,000 years.
Just a thought or two….
 Though China has a reasonably antique pedigree it did not really catch up to the societies of western Eurasia until the Han Dynasty. For instance, not only did the age of iron come late to China, archaic forms of warfare based on chariots persisted longer than they did in the Near East. Of course, on other fronts, especially theological, some could say that the Sinic way was more progressive.
 The comparison is also a bit stretched in the case of my family. I live in the US, but I have cousins in the UK, Venezuala and Sweden (and some half-brown cousins at that, though so far, the white gene pool has been spared, they being half-Japanese, Syrian and Venezualan).