Dan Morgan, from the blog No Speed Bumps, has pointed out a major discrepency in the Lupinski article. There is indeed a chart showing a much higher percentage of participants having $100K+ income. (Dan Morgan says 37%.)
Perhaps, the authors meant to say that 7.9% of participants earned at least $250,000. It might be possible that 60% of graduates of top ten MBA programs would be making at least $250,000 by the time they are 33. Those investment banks pay a lot of money. You just need the magic of a degree from the right school in order to open the piggy bank.
If the 37% figure is correct, this in no way invalidates the tracks theory of labor market outcomes. The majority of paticipants had graudate degrees of some kind, including highly valuable graduate degrees like MDs and top ten MBAs. If a similar percentage of the law school graduates also attended top law schools, they would also mostly be making more than $100,000.
It's pretty pathetic that a published research paper, signed by so many authors, would have such a glaring error in it. What's the point of reading these published papers if the quality is no better than what you read in blogs?
ORIGINAL POST WHICH IS BASED ON WHAT IS POSSIBLY A TYPO
A research article, Tracking Exceptional Human Capital Over Two Decades by Lubinski, Benbow, Webb & Bleske-Rechek (link to PDF file) was brought to my attention. It was purported to show the fabulous success of those with high IQs, but a closer examination shows just the opposite, and confirms the findings from my previous post on this topic.
This research article tracked people (286 males, 94 females) who “scored in the top 0.01% on cognitive-ability measures” before age 13. This was determined by an early administration of the SAT. These high IQ people were looked at when their average age was 33.6.
Now of course intelligence is primarily a genetic trait, so people identified in their pre-teen years as being super smart are going to stay super smart for the rest of their lives. So the group had great academic success, attended the best colleges, and “doctoral-level degrees (Ph.D., M.D., or J.D.) were earned by 51.7% and 54.3% of male and female TS participants.”
But my interest has been to see if people with high IQs earn more money, and it seems that based on this research paper they don’t.
Interestingly, the paper talks about participants who earned at least $100,000/year without directly telling us how small a percent earned that much money. Well, a little 8th grade algebra was able to ferret out this information. The paper informs us that 20 survey participants had MBAs, that 46.2% of the participants who earned more than $100,000 had MBAs, and that 60% of participants with MBAs reported more than $100,000 of income. Doing the algebra, we discover that only 30 participants had $100,000+ salaries, only 7.9% of the sample.
How does this compare to General Social Survey respondents? I looked at GSS respondents aged 30-37 because this is within four years of the average age of 33.6.
For male GSS respondents who had at least a college degree (N=221), 11.3% reported income of at least $100,000. (For the GSS income group of $90,000 to $109,999, I assumed that half had at least $100.000.) For female respondents with at least a college degree (N=235), that percentage was only 2.3%. Now if we apply these percentages to the male/female breakdown of the participants in the Lubinski paper, we would expect that 9.07% would have incomes of at least $100,000. This is greater than the actual finding of 7.9%.
So we see, the financial success of a group of super-elite high IQ individuals actually lags a group of just average Joes with college degrees.
Why did these super-high IQ individuals have such mediocre career success compared to average college graduates? It all goes back to my tracks theory of labor market outcomes. The people with super-high IQs who used their IQs to obtain valuable degrees (such as MBAs from top schools) which allowed entry to the best career tracks did very well financially, but the vast majority of the sample pursued academic programs that led to lower paying careers.
If one believes that a person’s salary is a measure of that person’s contribution to the economy, then the conclusion is that super-high IQ people are not contributing more to the economy than average college graduates.