Scientists Say Billionaires Dumber Than The Rest Of Us

A new study proposed by scientists studied cognitive, physical, and psychological test scores to determine that billionaires are less intelligent than poorer people.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

billionaire immortal

Most people believe that billionaires are more intelligent and hard-working than their less wealthy counterparts. Some even look to the ultra-rich for guidance in all walks of life because they must know something the rest of us don’t. But a new study just scrapped that theory, stating that people with hoards of cash may be just like everyone else or dumber.

Published in European Sociological Review, research says there is a strong relationship between intelligence and earning potential until the figure exceeds $64,000 a year. That’s where the correlation becomes almost negligible. After studying 60,000 men, those in the top 1% (or billionaires) were found to be less smart than people right behind them.

Previous research on how people become billionaires has linked intelligence with economic success. But it hasn’t considered the relative ability of top earners, IFL Science reports. To explore this phenomenon, researchers examined data from Swedish military conscripts which provided cognitive scores and labor information.

Approximately, 59,400 men were followed using 11 years of labor market data along with cognitive, physical, and psychological test scores taken when they were younger. The information was compared against their earnings and job prestige between the ages of 35 and 45 to look for any links to billionaires. The results indicated a wage and prestige increase as cognitive ability rose.

Jeff Bezos

However, intelligence seemed to plateau as the wages reached the top end. Much like the European Social Review billionaires study, once people hit $64,000 a year in earnings, any differences in ability ceased between those earning above and just below that figure. Additionally, intelligence did not increase above 70.

Moreover, the study found that billionaires (or the top 1%) achieved worse scores on cognitive ability tests than those in the slightly lower income bracket. These findings prove that although greater intelligence may help push a person into higher earnings, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. However, it is worth noting that the study is limited by the lack of diversity in the sample.

Since the analysis was limited to men, the results can’t be effectively translated to the wider population. As such, the authors welcome further research with more diverse samples to determine if billionaires are smarter than the rest of us. Meanwhile, there have been other studies indicating that ultra-success could be due to something different entirely.

In 2018, a study called “Talent vs. Luck: The Role of Randomness in Success and Failure” simulated over 1,000 people with 40-year careers using a computer model. The findings suggested that luck was the biggest driver of success attributed to billionaires. Just like the real world, these subjects had differing levels of talent, including intelligence, creativity, determination, ambition, and wealth.

The virtual people were also hit with various “lucky” and “unlucky” events throughout their careers, striking at random, IFL Science reports. When presented with a life-changing opportunity, they could exploit their skills to become billionaires. In the real world, this could be a chance to meet with an influential person.

But if a bad situation arose, like the death of a close family member, the virtual person would have a slice of their wealth taken away. The Talent vs. Luck study is still waiting to be peer-reviewed before it can be used as a serious marker for measuring billionaires.