Wealth and intelligence are often viewed as qualities that go hand-in-hand, but a new study has shown this may not actually be the case.
It appears those in the richest one per cent score lower in cognitive ability tests than those earning slightly less than them.
Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden, Leipzig University in Germany, the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the European University Institute in Italy contributed to this study titled: "The plateauing of cognitive ability among top earners."
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They looked at on data from 59,387 Swedish men around the age of 40 who completed a mandatory military conscription test at 18 or 19 and used 11 years worth of labor market data to compare their test results with their salary and job prestige.
(While this is a large data sample, it's scope is limited in terms of nationality and gender as researchers acknowledged and "invite further research that includes all members of society.")
Although there is a correlation between intelligence and income, this up until €60,000 ($64,000) as researchers described a "plateauing of cognitive ability," in those who earn above this sum.
"We find that the relationship between ability and wage is strong overall, yet above €60,000 (US$64,407) per year ability plateaus at a modest level of +1 standard deviation," the study read.
"The top 1 percent even score slightly worse on cognitive ability than those in the income strata right below them."
Other factors other than intelligence may also explain how top earners have been successful include socioeconomic background, culture, personality traits, and luck.
There was also "a similar but less pronounced" plateauing of ability in those with high occupational prestige - e.g. judges, lawyers, professors, and doctors and that more prestige doesn't equate to more income.
So while intelligence may play a part in earning money in the beginning, it is doesn't have a major role in making the big bucks.
"Recent years have seen much academic and public discussion of rising inequality," researchers said.
"In debates about interventions against large wage discrepancies, a common defence of top earners is the superior merit inferred from their job-market success using human capital arguments."
"However, along an important dimension of merit – cognitive ability – we find no evidence that those with top jobs that pay extraordinary wages are more deserving than those who earn only half those wages," they concluded.
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