chapter  6
22 Pages

Cognitive ability III: Labor market outcomes

There is little argument that one of the major controversies in social science is the importance of cognitive ability for labor market outcomes. The most prominent, and controversial, position is that cognitive ability is very important. This position is exemplified by Eysenck (1979: 85), who claimed that intelligence “determines a person’s socio-economic status to a considerable extent, through this, it determines his general earning capacity and position in society”. Similarly, Gottfredson (1997a: 14) makes the similarly strong contention that: “IQ is strongly related, probably more so, than any other single measurable human trait, to many important educational, occupational, economic and other social outcomes”. Sternberg et al. (2001: 29) are more measured, “IQ is a relatively good predictor of many kinds of childhood and adult outcomes”. Although outside the scope of this book, there is evidence that intelligence is important not just for educational and labor market outcomes, but also for a range of social outcomes, such as single motherhood, poverty, divorce, welfare dependency and crime (Fergusson et al. 2005; Herrnstein and Murray 1994: 127-253; Jensen 1998: 294-301; Korenman and Winship 2000).