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First Names, Cognitive Ability and Social Status in Denmark

Emil O. W. Kirkegaard

Published: 2019/06/01

Abstract

It is well established that general intelligence varies in the population and is causal for variation in later life outcomes, in particular for social status and education. We linked IQ-test scores from the Danish draft test (Børge Prien Prøven, BPP) to social status for a list of 265 relatively common names in Denmark (85% male). Intelligence at the level of first name was strongly related to social status, r = .64. Ten names in the dataset were non-western, Muslim names. These names averaged an IQ of 81 (range 76-87) compared with 98 for the western, mostly Danish ones. Nonwestern names were also lower in social status, with a mean SES score of 2.66 standard deviations below that of western names. Mediation analysis showed that 30% of this very large gap can be explained by the IQ gap. Reasons for this relatively low level of mediation are discussed.

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