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Intelligence. 1985 Jan-Mar;9(1):23-32.

Intelligence and fertility in the United States: 1912-1982.



Results are presented for the 1st analysis of the relationship between IQ and completed fertility using a large, representative sample of the US population. Correlations are predominantly negative for cohorts born between 1894 and 1964 but are significantly more positive for cohorts whose fertility was concentrated in the baby boom years. Previous studies reporting slightly positive correlations appear to have been biased in their restriction of samples to atypical cohorts. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a nonprofit research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago, conducted the General Social Survey (GSS) in the US each year from 1972 to 1982, except for 1979. A combination of block quota and full probability sampling was employed. Hour-long interviews were completed with 12,120 respondents who were English-speaking, noninstitutionalized adults (18 years or older) living within the continental US. Such questions as age, place of birth, income and occupation, were asked in each interview. Other questions about attitudes on various social, political, and moral issues were rotated in different years. The unique opportunity this data set affords is an overview of the relationship between intelligence and fertility for a nationally representative sample of Americans whose major reproductive years fell between 1912 and 1982. Data were consolidated from the 4 surveys in which the vocabulary test was given (1974, 1976, 1978, and 1982). Respondents were divided into 15 birth cohorts of 5-year intervals ranging from before 1894 to 1964. Correlations between vocabulary scores and number of siblings are markedly negative across all 15 cohorts. Vocabulary sibling correlations are more negative in every cohort than vocabulary offspring correlations. Previous reports of a neutral or slightly eugenic relationship appear to be due to the nature of the samples used, in part because the cohorts chosen were atypical, and in part because they did not include nonwhites. Childless respondents averaged slightly higher scores than did those with 1 or more children, indicating that the automatic exclusion of the childless from sibling-IQ studies has not spuriously inflated negative correlations.

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