Socioeconomic Status and IQ

Growing up in a popular suburban town outside of Philadelphia, PA I personally never gave much thought to this idea until coming to college and having it discussed in one of my classes. The idea is that your intelligence can be effected by your socioeconomic status. Now when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Without wealth and money, you can’t guarantee the best schooling and teaching that you receive growing up. You also hear a lot of talk about when people decide to buy a new home about which school district they’d like to live in, in order to make sure their children get the best schooling. How17ever, if you don’t have the economic wealth, is your intelligence compared to those that have wealth that different?

When doing research on the topic I came across a study that was done on twins within the United Kingdom. With a total of 7426 pairs of twins, they gathered data on their parent’s education and occupation when the children where 18 months old and recollected the same data when the children turned the age of 7. The family income was assessed at age 9.

To measure the intelligence side, the twins were assessed at ages 2, 3 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, and 16 with a variety of tests. These tests included parent-administered testing, as well as web based and telephone based examinations. A majority of these tests were both verbal and non-verbal and called for their knowledge of vocab and cognitive abilities.

The results did not seem to come as a surprise. As the children got older their intelligence scores were positively inter-correlated. Socioeconomic status also was positively correlated with intelligence at all ages as well and increasingly so. gr2When looking at the p-values, across the two samples in latent growth of IQ and socioeconomic status the value was p<.001.

Many studies are said to have shown similar results to this one as well. This goes to show that income inequality can be an issue when it comes to education. However, this particular study is not the best demonstration of the entire worlds population as a whole. The study was only conducted in the United Kingdom. Not to mention that confounding variables can always be an issue with experiments. For this study in particular, since it is an observational study it is extremely difficult to say that the socioeconomic status is the direct causation of a child’s intelligence. When in reality it could be a numerous amount of things.

In conclusion, the study in my opinion however did show some interesting things. Such as when the children got older, the IQ gaps between those well off and those that weren’t significantly grew between the ages of two and 16. They also pointed out that the children in better off families could have experienced greater opportunities which relates back to the confounding variable issue that I talked about earlier.


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2 thoughts on “Socioeconomic Status and IQ

  1. Meredith Herndon

    Hey Christopher! Back at home in Pittsburgh, I went to a HS that was very economically divided so your articles title really stuck out to me since I’ve had a first hand experience with kids who come from tougher backgrounds and end up struggling in school. I think that when looking at these two variables, the relationship is due to lots of confounding third variables, not a true mechanism. Wealth has no affect on intelligence, but on opportunity. If a child is unable to go to a good school and is forced to be in an underfunded school then their learning experience will be vastly different than that of a child who is provided with better opportunities. While I absolutely agree and believe with the studies findings, I don’t believe that the relationship is due to an actual mechanism but is due to variables such as where the child lives and their respective school system, parents work, parents involvement in the child education, etc.

  2. Samantha Francesca Sichenze

    Nice job! This topic is very interesting to me for personal reasons. Coming from Brooklyn, New York, I am surrounded by different socioeconomic status levels. Luckily enough, I got to experience both sides. I went to a public middle school in Coney Island, a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn. For high school, I went to a private Catholic high school in Bay Ridge. Honestly, I received the best education for my middle school. They had amazing, enthusiastic teachers who challenged us everyday. When I went to high school, I was fully prepared. High school didn’t challenge me. I was able to do little work and still receive good grades. So I am torn if I believe that economic status affects education. I believe that it depends on the school and the teachers working at that school. In this article,, it gives numerous ways economic status affects education. The study done in the UK intrigues me. The IQ gaps were shocking. Like I said before, I believe that it’s all due to chance and what school you’re enrolled in because you can receive a great education anywhere, in any neighborhood.

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