Highest earners are not necessarily the smartest, study reveals

There is an income level at which intelligence plateaus according to Swedish researchers

Highest earners are not necessarily the smartest, study reveals

Those with the highest incomes are often being rewarded for their ability in the role, but that does not necessarily mean that they are smarter than the average worker.

While you would imagine that those with the biggest wages must have a high level of intelligence, a new study shows that there is a point at which the correlation plateaus.

Researchers at Sweden’s Linköping University considered wage data from the country’s public records alongside cognitive ability tests taken from military conscripts at age 18-19.

They wanted to discover whether extremely high wages are indicative of extreme intelligence.

They found that the link between wage and cognitive ability was strong for most people across most income levels, but levels out after around 60,000 euros, equivalent to around C$86,000 at today’s rates.

Top earners score worse

For the top 1% of wage earners, the research revealed that cognitive ability scores were actually slightly lower than those one wage level below them.

“This is an important finding, because the top 1% earn wages that are twice as high as the average wage among the top 2-3%, according to Marc Keuschnigg, associate professor at The Institute of Analytical Sociology at Linköping University and professor of sociology at Leipzig University.

Overall, the study found that those earning extremely high wages are no more deserving than those on half of those wages, while many professionals who earn high wages do so without any evidence of a link to cognitive ability.

The full study is at: https://academic.oup.com/esr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/esr/jcac076/7008955