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September 21, 2004

Social mobility and IQ

I've posted occasionally on social mobility before.

I noticed another recent study on the subject:

K. Thienpoint and G. Verleye: 'Cognitive ability and occupational status in a British cohort', Journal of Biosocial Science, 36, Part 3, May 2004, 333-349.

I can't find a free online version, but here's the abstract:

The relation between individual trait differences, social mobility and social structure is central to social biology. Because genetic variance underlies phenotypic variance in some of these traits, for example IQ, several mechanisms determine the population variance. Polygenic inheritance is the basic mechanism. Social mobility and assortative partner choice distribute the trait variance within generations. This feedback circle is constrained by sociological conditions at several levels of analysis. Fundamental to this theory of social assortment is the relation between social–biological traits and social class on the one hand, and these traits and social mobility on the other hand. The focus here is on the relation between social class, social mobility and cognitive ability. The National Child Development Study is drawn upon, including the last follow-up (1999–2000). By approaching this relationship through various methods, both social–biological and sociological aspects of this research question can be assessed.

Unfortunately the abstract doesn't say what the empirical findings are! (Hint to authors: this is a useful part of any abstract!)

However, the full text says: 'Intelligence exerts by far the strongest influence on educational and occupational attainment. Its influence on occupational attainment goes almost exclusively through education. The path IQ-education-occupation is strong'. The authors also found that social class of the cohort subjects' parents was not an important influence beyond what would be expected from its correlation with children's IQ.

Nothing very new in this, but it adds to the pile of evidence.

Posted by David B at 07:29 AM