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Education Science

Poverty Stunts IQ In the US But Not In Other Developed Countries (arstechnica.com) 519

An anonymous reader writes: New research published in the journal Psychological Science (abstract) found that children who grow up in poverty within the United States tend to have lower IQs than peers from other socioeconomic brackets. Previous studies have shown a complex relationship between a child's genetics, his environment, and his IQ. Your genes can't pinpoint your IQ, but they can indicate a rough range of values within which your IQ is quite likely to fall. For kids in poverty, they seem to consistently end up on the low end of that window. Interestingly, this effect was not seen for any of the other countries hosting kids within the study, which included Australia, Germany, England, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The study authors speculate that "inequalities in educational and medical access in the U.S." may be the root of the differences, though another researcher is planning to study the effect of school environments as well.
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Poverty Stunts IQ In the US But Not In Other Developed Countries

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  • by Art3x ( 973401 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @07:20PM (#51168159)

    In school I did a report on parenting. A child's IQ is set by 3, largely from stimulation: holding them, talking to them, reading to them, etc. --- even though they don't yet know exactly what you're saying.

    Aren't many poor families in America a young, single mother, working one or two jobs, and her children? Probably not the best upbringing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @07:21PM (#51168171)

    The experience of many, many other countries shows conclusively and overwhelmingly that society is better off with a good social system that supports the poor and underprivileged. It constantly amazes that Americans are SO insistent on their "every man for himself" mentality, in the face of the evidence. The countries ranked the best to live in are socialist societies, where the rich are compelled to help the poor rather than say "fuck it dude I got mine, so screw you". They have government run medical systems, and high taxes to support a well functioning society.

    America has one of the biggest wealth disparities in the world, a poor education system, a health care system that is massively expensive but comes up far short of the best ones in results, has more murder, and a crumbling infrastructure. When will you all wake up and realize that your culture needs to be changed? It's OK. You can join the modern world. The rest of us will be happy to see you do well! We don't wish bad things for you. But you have to give up the cowboy attitude, in order to get there.

    • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

      It constantly amazes that idiots like you think America (a.k.a. the USA) is homogenous in anything including it's thinking. We're a melting pot with a lot more variety than almost any country, perhaps any country, because the USA was settled by and built by immigrants from around the world. There is no "American Mentality".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by sjames ( 1099 )

        Sure there is. Once all the differences even out, our "left" looks like everyone else's right and our right looks insane.

  • Public Schools? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @07:22PM (#51168175)

    Could this be because the school systems in these other countries are funded in a way where the budget is less dependent on local taxes. If the money is region/nationalized you don't end up with the more prosperous cities having nicer schools because they have higher income from local property taxes.

    Also -- college is cheaper/free in many European countries. Less of a financial barrier-to-entry for higher education means more poverty-sicken students get to go to school.

    • Could this be because the school systems in these other countries are funded in a way where the budget is less dependent on local taxes. If the money is region/nationalized you don't end up with the more prosperous cities having nicer schools because they have higher income from local property taxes.

      School funding in Michigan changed a long time ago, on precisely this theory. (Had nothing to do with sticking a needle in the eye of those evil "wealthy" districts, no no.) School funding now comes mainly from a higher sales tax. Your school has more kids? You get more money. Per pupil stuff.

      Strangely enough, Detroit schools still suck, and the "wealthy" districts still don't (as much). So no, that wasn't it.

  • To all the racists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @07:33PM (#51168247)

    who are just attributing this to the ethnic makeup of the US, you're missing the point. The study isn't saying that poor American blacks are not as smart as affluent American whites. It's saying that poor American blacks are less intelligent than affluent American blacks, and poor American whites are less intelligent than affluent American whites, and the same poor vs. affluent gap doesn't exist in other countries.

  • Duh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @07:34PM (#51168257) Homepage

    Here in the USA lead abatement in rentals is a thin coat of paint. Elsewhere they require the landlord to remove it ALL from the home.

    And who lives in the shitty run down really old homes with lead paint in them? poor people.

  • Other developed nations, which have stronger environmental regulations than the US, don't have children living in areas highly contaminated by lead.

  • "poverty" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @08:09PM (#51168495)

    There isn't much genuine "poverty" in the US anymore. Hasn't been for a couple generations.

    Go watch hood fight videos on WSHH or Darien Long patrolling an Atlanta mall on Youtube. We certainly have ghettos. But the people in them are not suffering grinding "poverty." They're all fat, equipped with cell phones and cars and spend their disposable income on status symbols and various vices. The kids they make are fed good meals in public schools and junk food at home till they're fat. Aside from the pencil whipping "education" they get in government funded schools they're raised by Nintendo and TV.

    This is gross neglect, not "poverty." And more benefits and deficits aren't going to make good parents out of the denizens of our proto-idiocracy.

    No, I don't have a solution either. At least none that doesn't involve pretty serious compromises of civil rights. And we all know the subjects of such attention would rather the stunted IQs than suffer any impositions.

  • Didn't I read somewhere (like on /.) a while back, that the cheap, shitty food that the poor have no choice but to eat, has much to do with children's brains not developing as well as their more healthily-fed peers?
  • Slapping kids upside the head, while amusing and culturally acceptable, seriously degrades the academic performance of Our Fellow Americans.

    PSA: don't slap your child upside the head.

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@poe[ ].com ['tic' in gap]> on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @08:57PM (#51168813)

    Ah yes, 'Psychological Science' ... that's akin to 'Military Intelligence' and 'Astrological Science'.

    When I studied psickology in 1959, and then again in 1969, I couldn't help noticing that the field had changed about as much as the runways of Paris fashion. Since then many more dynamic changes; each generation displacing the previous and 'outing' their theories.

    Sorry to demean them, and in fact I believe there is some truth in this observation. I also assume that as their peers and others review this work we will see different conclusions drawn from the same data.

  • by strstr ( 539330 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @09:55PM (#51169047)

    was that United States poverty actually means extreme poverty where money, education, healthcare, nuturement, homes, cars, transporation, day care, special needs services and all that is completely denied.

    and the comparison countries "Germany, UK, Australia,.." are all actually really rich countries with more of a socialism style to their economic systems. In those countries they have completely free healthcare, free college educations, better school systems (although I have no studied each country, I have looked at countries such as Germany which has completely free college education even for people who go there from out of the country, and Finland has a revolutionary system with three teachers per class and 20 student caps, France puts more money into kids and "fixing" life problems, etc).

    I grew up in Oregon and as such I was denied all school after the 6th grade, and I had no health insurance and therefore could not see a dentist, psychologist, PCP, or any other type of doctor growing up. Until the year 2011 when Affordable Health Care Act kicked in, there were hundreds of thousands of uninsured children in Oregon .. meaning when they had a health problem, they were denied medical care most of the time.

    Oregon just so happens to also have the worst graduation rates .. 70% of disabled kids drop out of school because the services push them out and don't have services for them, and 40% of regular kids drop out.

    Compare that to Finland with 95% graduation rate!

    In America they also prefer to "drug" kids with medications for mental disorders they don't have, rather than to fix the underlining cause of their problems, which is often times rooted in their homes, poverty, and lack of services and infrastructure for them to succeed in.

    Those medications cause IQ drops, autism, brain damage, and prevent learning and fail to actually correct kids/adults problems.

    In most of those European countries they also have social housing programs (for example, housing is free in Germany and you also get free basic income, health care, plus education as mentioned before). In America, if you can't afford the sky high rent, you're probably going to be homeless and completely desolate, stressed out wondering the streets or if you're lucky in a bed bug infested ghetto homeless shelter with crap food and dirty insides (they serve people expired food at most of these places).

    So the author missed one thing. It does appear the problem is linked to poverty. Because America and those other countries have vastly different systems. Poverty means way different things in America compared to European countries. In America they expect you to "pay for everything out of pocket" but if you cannot do that, you do not get free service drop ins. The rich therefore are the only ones who can afford to properly raise their children in America because they have the money for private schools, private services, tutors, private doctors, private lawyers, leisure, exploration, etc; everyone else suffers and rots. But in Europe, basic services and living needs are free to the poor.

    The only way to fix this is to adopt a new United States constitution perhaps based on the one from South Africa, as some US Supreme Court justices indicated was a model replacement for our own. Other countries are already built with better constitutions, as after World War II President Roosevelt sent aids to European/foreign countries and helped build in economic rights into their new constitutions. The United States was to get a new Bill of Rights 2 with economic rights, but when Roosevelt died prematurely, his work was successfully subverted in the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    The problem with the United States is purely it's shitty geared for the wealthy and rich constitution.

    We don't even have the right to live in dignity, as other nations have. We have no right to basic income. No right to medica

    • Finland has a revolutionary system with three teachers per class and 20 student caps

      I wonder where this three teachers per class idea comes from, I've never heard anything of the sort, and I'm Finnish and have gone through said system. There is one teacher per class, sometimes an assistant, and two teachers per class in cases where the class size is very big. Because of cutbacks, we've had to stuff as many kids into a classroom as we can -- Finland is not doing too well at the moment when it comes to government finances.

      But the system does have a lot of strengths, among other things the fa

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @10:28PM (#51169143)

    Lets compare the US to socialist countries in areas that it supposedly doesn't do as well in, and then make poorly causated links between success and levels of applied socialism. It is never that simple. The US spends more money per student than just about every other country in the world. The problem isn't money or access.

    Yet another academic propaganda post implying socialism as the answer. I am sick of these.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2015 @11:23PM (#51169365)

    So there is a correlation between low IQ and poverty, more so in the USA than elsewhere. But which is the cause and which the resulting effect?

    In countries without a mobile class structure, high or low IQ has much less effect on an individuals than in the USA. Your destiny depends on your ancestry and inherited position. In the USA, people are free to rise or sink to an economic level defined by their individual capabilities. The smart become wealthy, the stupid sink into poverty. The end result gives the same correlation between poverty and IQ, but for widely different reasons.

    • I find that, a lot of the time, when you find two things that are 'correlated,' it's time to start looking for the external factors that cause them both.
  • by conquistadorst ( 2759585 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @02:04PM (#51173481)
    My opinions may not carry much currency because they're purely anecdotal. I still believe the US education system is one of the best in the world but at the same time I think our sometimes lack-luster education and performance results are far more culturally based than anyone gives it credit. Growing up as a US-born child of an immigrant family may give me a very biased perspective but I use it all the time nonetheless. My story is typical for many immigrants, it's practically a cliche. My parents didn't know English and came to the US with $400 in their pocket in the early 80s. Yes, we were on welfare, yes we collected food stamps, yes my family took terrible low skill and low earning jobs like cleaning, harvesting, and the like, yes we grew up in the inner city being the 1 of 2 Caucasian families in the entire neighborhood, yes we had 3 generations living in one household, and yes English was not my first language.

    But we climbed the *#!@ out of there as fast as we could, because that's why we came to the US: to do well. We came with ambitions, with the belief that education was one thing the "man", whether it's a Soviet government or oppressive oligarchy, could not take away from you. Not doing well in school simply was not an option. My mother get her degree and my father got a decent job at a factory. While my parents certainly did well for themselves, the next generation, like myself, we did even better. I can say from my limited exposure to the education system, at least here in NY, is that very, very, very few of my classmates had the same ambitions. In fact, most would have seen me as being aggressively competitive but in my eyes and my parents I was only allowed to see myself as still not trying hard enough. I admit that half of my class mates were brighter than me, but I'm sorry to say that few of them tried half as hard nor did as well.

    If every kid had that ambition you'd have to be scared of what the US could do instead of can't do. Unfortunately it's my observation that many kids *and* their adult parents here in the US lack any self control. They are far too wrapped up in finding the next source of entertainment than setting up a future for themselves, family, and country. Be it TV, alcohol, music, fame, partying, drugs, games, and sports (yes, I said sports, let your verbal abuse fly!). There's nothing wrong with any of those things are just fine per se, as long as they're done in moderation.

"Intelligence without character is a dangerous thing." -- G. Steinem

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