IQ a better predictor of adult economic success than maths

March 14, 2019, University of Warwick
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

IQ in childhood is a better indicator of adult wealth than maths for very preterm and very low-weight babies, according to a new study in PLOS One by researchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Tennessee. This could change the education system for those with cognitive impairments.

These findings contrast with previous evidence suggesting the specific importance of math skills for economic achievement.

The study, 'General Cognitive but Not Mathematic Abilities Predict Very Preterm and Healthy Term Born Adults' Wealth,' followed more than 400 born in Bavaria, Germany, from birth through adulthood. Of the children in the study, 193 were born very preterm (under 32 weeks gestation) or with very (less than 3.3 pounds) and 217 were healthy term babies.

Using standardized tests, psychologists assessed general intelligence and specific maths skills of the children at eight years old. When the subjects reached age 26, information on their income, social benefits, educational qualifications, and was summarized into a comprehensive wealth index.

The researchers tested whether math abilities or IQ explained the negative consequences of very premature birth on adult wealth. They concluded that IQ was a better predictor of life course economic success.

This new research adds to the understanding of long-term outcomes in the lives of children who are born very preterm. As many children demonstrating cognitive impairments attend mainstream schools, it also provides an opportunity to develop strategies for ensuring that they receive best support for their learning progress.

Prof. Dieter Wolke, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments:

"No matter whether their difficulties are global or specific, many very preterm and very low birthweight individuals require continued educational support in order to succeed in school and life.

Our findings can inform the design of follow-up and intervention services to reduce the burden of prematurity for those individuals who were born at highest neonatal risk."

"Considering preterm and low-birthweight individuals' multiple neurocognitive difficulties, our results suggest that IQ is a more significant predictor of adult than the ability to solve specific problems," said Julia Jaekel, associate professor of child and family studies, who coauthored the study with Nicole Baumann and Dieter Wolke from the University of Warwick and Peter Bartmann from the University of Bonn.

Explore further: Regular checks of very preterm babies' head size can help identify long-term IQ problems

More information: Julia Jaekel et al. General cognitive but not mathematic abilities predict very preterm and healthy term born adults' wealth, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212789

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6 comments

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TK422
3 / 5 (4) Mar 14, 2019
Though it may be better than proficiency in math for predicting future economic success, IQ scores are still not that good at predicting economic success. See https://www.forbe...0df93604
Old_C_Code
4 / 5 (2) Mar 14, 2019
IQ scores are still not that good at predicting economic success.


Oh BS. This has been well known for thirty years now. IQ is the only sure predictor of economic success.
St_ Christopher
5 / 5 (1) Mar 14, 2019
TK422- Even the author of the article you linked to agrees that IQ is a great predictor of success. His argument against actually using these statistics is that they're only true for groups of people and you cannot apply them to individuals. Again, this is very old news and has been known for years.
mqr
not rated yet Mar 14, 2019
the Kardashians seems to prove that false. And what about the very stable genious and his family, his daughter does not seem pretty powerful in the abstraction axis. No intelligence, no talenrt, lots of money. In logic the opposite of all, is some. So obviously some people can be very sucessfull without a lot of IQ.
Doug_Nightmare
not rated yet Mar 15, 2019
Only people with IQ speak of it. Those without IQ dismiss it's significance.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Mar 15, 2019
Do they mean arithmetic = 'sums', or 'math' = calculus & beyond ??

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