are the highest earners the smartest new study suggests not
Last updated on February 25th, 2023 at 07:51 am
The highest earners may not be the workers who are the smartest, according to a recent Swedish study, published in the European Sociological Review last month.
The research found that higher general intelligence had correlations with higher salaries – but only up to a threshold of about $57,300 a year. Beyond that limit, ability plateaus as remunerations continue to increase. And earners in the top 1%, the study further mentioned, score slightly worse than those in the income tier directly below them.
The study was led by the senior associate professor for analytical sociology Marc Keuschnigg at Linkoping University in Sweden.
There is currently no evidence that workers receiving extraordinary wages are more deserving than those who earn only half those remunerations, wrote the authors of the study, adding “family resources or luck” are more likely the triggers behind extreme occupational success than ability.
The research took the cognitive ability of more than 59,000 Swedish-born men at the age of 18 or 19 and their remunerations between the ages of 35 and 45 under analysis. The study was based on a standardised intelligence test Swedish men are required to take as part of compulsory military service.
Since military service was not mandatory for women and immigrants when the initial data for the research was recorded, the groups were not included in the study.
The research didn’t take into consideration motivation levels, superior social skills, and the other noncognitive abilities that are likely to help workers grab high-paying jobs. Moreover, the brainiest people may not always opt for the best-paying job over a relatively more interesting or rewarding role.
Still, Keuschnigg sees the lack of a correlation between general intelligence and remuneration at high levels as a warning sign about deepening income inequality between the ultra-rich and the rest of society.
Since decisions made by top earners affect a lot of people, society might prefer having the right individuals in these top positions, he further added.