Listen to this article Poor Education Linked To Historic IQ Decline
According to a recent study published in the journal Intelligence, the average IQ of Americans has been declining for the first time in nearly a century. The study’s authors suggest that this trend could be attributed to the quality of education in the country.
The Flynn Effect
To examine the phenomenon of the Flynn effect, the study measures the IQ test results of individuals aged 18 to 60. This effect, first observed by philosopher James Flynn, describes the trend of increasing IQ scores in younger generations over time. Since 1932, IQ scores have increased by roughly three to five points per decade, which suggests that younger generations should have higher IQ scores than the previous cohort.
The Reverse Flynn Effect
However, data from the sample of U.S. adults in the study imply that there is a reverse Flynn effect, with age groups measured generally showing declines in the IQ test used by the study, the International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR), from 2006 to 2018. The declines in cognitive abilities held true across age groups, even after controlling for educational attainment and gender. Nonetheless, the study shows that the loss in cognitive abilities is steeper for younger participants, particularly those aged 18 to 22.
Education as a Factor
The authors of the study suggest that a change in the quality or content of education and test-taking skills could explain the difference in IQ between younger and older Americans. Exposure to education, including obtaining a four-year degree, generally lessened the blow to IQ points. However, the study suggests that this is less so for younger participants.
Challenges in the Education System
Over the years, the education system in the United States has undergone significant changes. These changes have impacted the curriculum, teaching methodologies, and the overall quality of education in the country. Millennials, the main age group completing their K-12 and college education during the study, have experienced a defective curriculum, grade inflation, and other challenges. Changes in the teaching system over time could have played a role in the decline of IQ scores among younger Americans. The authors of the study suggest that participants who took the test more recently, across all levels of education, had lower scores, indicating a shift in the perception of certain cognitive skills. Therefore, it seems that the current education system in the United States may not prioritize the development of cognitive abilities enough.
The study concludes that the decline in IQ scores could be reversed with an improvement in the quality and content of education, including changes in test-taking skills. It is essential to address the underlying issues and challenges faced by younger generations in the education system to prevent a further decline in cognitive abilities.