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Making development simple. The genetic deterministic hypothesis for economic development

Morse, S. (2006) Making development simple. The genetic deterministic hypothesis for economic development. Ecological Economics, 56 (1). pp. 79-88. ISSN 0921-8009

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.12.023


This paper discusses the dangers inherent in allempting to simplify something as complex as development. It does this by exploring the Lynn and Vanhanen theory of deterministic development which asserts that varying levels of economic development seen between countries can be explained by differences in 'national intelligence' (national IQ). Assuming that intelligence is genetically determined, and as different races have been shown to have different IQ, then they argue that economic development (measured as GDP/capita) is largely a function of race and interventions to address imbalances can only have a limited impact. The paper presents the Lynne and Vanhanen case and critically discusses the data and analyses (linear regression) upon which it is based. It also extends the cause-effect basis of Lynne and Vanhanen's theory for economic development into human development by using the Human Development Index (HDI). It is argued that while there is nothing mathematically incorrect with their calculations, there are concerns over the data they employ. Even more fundamentally it is argued that statistically significant correlations between the various components of the HDI and national IQ can occur via a host of cause-effect pathways, and hence the genetic determinism theory is far from proven. The paper ends by discussing the dangers involved in the use of over-simplistic measures of development as a means of exploring cause-effect relationships. While the creators of development indices such as the HDI have good intentions, simplistic indices can encourage simplistic explanations of under-development. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Human Environments
ID Code:3873
Uncontrolled Keywords:economic development human development HDI intelligence IQ HUMAN-DEVELOPMENT INDEX GENERAL INTELLIGENCE JENSEN STATES SCALE
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