hbd: a note on the hypothesized haitian average iq

[N.B.: I originally published this post on 2013.01.26. I revised it for clarity and to replace broken links.]

I saw an interesting blog post by Jason Malloy on average Haitian IQ and thought I’d remark on it here.

For those who read my blog’s HBD section, you’ll notice I last blogged about Quisqueya – the Caribbean island home to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In that post, I included the estimated average IQ for both the Dominican Republic (82) and Haiti (67) – figures drawn from Lynn and Vanhanen’s latest book. However, they arrived at Haiti’s estimate by extrapolating data from similar nations; as Malloy notes:

Lynn’s international dataset lacks data for Haiti. The Global Bell Curve (2008) simply reports “Nothing is known of the intelligence of the population of Haiti” (p. 147). IQ and the Wealth of Nations (2002) estimates an IQ of 72 by regional comparison with Jamaica. IQ and Global Inequality (2006) estimates an IQ of 67 by comparison with Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Dominica. This is the estimated value still reported in Intelligence (2012).

(Emphasis mine.)

Hence, 67 may not really be Haiti’s true average IQ. Indeed, Malloy found a few studies (he links to one of them in his post – note that it dates back to 1985) which suggests a Haitian average IQ of 69; however, Malloy revises this estimate down to 64 due to the Flynn Effect (i.e. the secular increase in IQ scores over time).

While I’ve only partly read the study (it’s a 238-page PDF file), I saw (and Malloy noted) that poverty and malnutrition are statistically significantly related to Haiti’s low average IQ; however, it appears Mr. Cotten used a 20% level of significance in his analysis:

The correlation between RAVNS and WDM was -0.19, significant at the 0.17 level. The prevalence indicator (PREV) correlated even more strongly (r = -0.28; a = 0.07). KAYBA, the indicator for home environment, also exhibited a strong association with performance (r = 0.31; a = 0.06) as did tuition (TU7N), a surrogate for quality of education.

(Emphasis mine.)

[N.B.: In the above, RAVNS represents Raven’s Progressive Matrices scores attained by the Haitian students sampled (the Raven’s is a type of IQ test), WDM (weight dispersion measure) represents nutritional status (scores below -180 indicate poor nutrition), PREV represents malnutrition prevalence, KAYBA represents home environment, and TU7N represents school tuition.]

With a level of significance as high as 20%, there’s plenty of room for error; such wouldn’t pass muster in today’s environment. Furthermore, Malloy states that he’s translating a few other studies which may yield more information, so these estimates for Haitian average IQ are preliminary. If I were to guess based on this (admittedly limited) information, I’d say Haiti’s average IQ lies somewhere between 60 and 75 (though I could be wrong, of course).

Jason Malloy later updated his post to show information from two other sources (N.B.: both sources are old – one’s from 1975 and the other’s from 1982; furthermore, both are in French). He took a weighted average of the study results and calculated an average IQ of 68 for Haiti – one point above the Lynn/Vanhanen estimate. Interestingly, some of the test results suggest higher average IQs (up to 98 – just two points below the “designed” test average of 100). However, IQ variance in children – particularly those of low socioeconomic status, or SES – is largely attributable to environmental factors, while IQ variance in adults is largely attributable to biological/genetic factors. Methinks this is important, given that the three studies analyzed by Malloy all involved Haitian children…

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