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IQ (Lynn/Becker)

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Smartest Countries 2024

Snapshot

  • Determining the world's smartest countries is complex, involving such factors as literacy, IQ scores, Nobel Prizes, and standardized test outcomes.

  • The OECD's PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results for 2022, assessing math, reading, and science skills, reveals East Asian countries like Singapore leading.

  • The Intelligence Capital Index of 2017 focuses on how nations use their intelligence, with the U.S. leading in leveraging smart citizens for knowledge expansion.

Determining which countries are the smartest in the world is difficult because there are so many different factors that can be considered.

  • Would the smartest country be the one with the most literate citizens?
  • Maybe the smartest countries in the world would be those whose residents had the highest average IQ score country-wide?
  • Or is the smartest country the one that has the highest percentage of extremely smart people?
  • Could it even be the country whose citizens have earned the most Nobel Prizes?
  • Standardized test scores could be another method of determining which nations are the smartest—if only it was possible to craft and administer a single standardized test that could accurately measure every aspect of intelligence in every person in every culture (and speaking every language) in every country.

Obviously, there exist challenges to any attempt to land on a single clear-and-simple answer. Nonetheless, population and intelligence experts continue to devise new methods and approaches that bring them closer and closer to a realistic ranking of the world's smartest countries.

Some of the best-known and more widely publicized studies of world intelligence are conducted by British psychologist Richard Lynn. In a 2019 study titled The Intelligence of Nations, Lynn and collaborator David Becker measured the average IQ of citizens across 132 nations and calculated estimated scores for another 71. The top of the list looks as follows (scroll to the table at the bottom of the page for the rest).

Top 10 Smartest Countries by IQ

Country
IQ (Lynn/Becker)
Japan106.48
Taiwan106.47
Singapore105.89
Hong Kong105.37
China104.1
South Korea102.35
Belarus101.6
Finland101.2
Liechtenstein101.07
Germany100.74

It would be irresponsible to neglect to mention that Lynn's studies, while arguably the most comprehensive available, often spark considerable debate. Some detractors take issue with the methods Lynn uses to compute estimates when hard data is unavailable. Others accuse Lynn, an outspoken eugenicist, of using his data to support scientifically inaccurate theories.

The Link between Education and Intelligence

Education and intelligence are closely linked, as a more robust educational system tends to produce a more intelligent populace over time. With this in mind, some studies use the educational rankings of various countries as a basis for comparisons of intelligence. In 2023, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its triennial PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results, which compared the math, reading, and science testing scores of nearly 700,000 students in 81 countries for year 2022. The top 10 appear below.

Top 10 Smartest Countries Based on Math, Reading, and Science - OECD PISA 2022:

Country
PISA 2022 Overall Score
PISA Math 2022
PISA Science 2022
PISA Reading 2022
Singapore1679575561543
China1605552543510
Japan1599536547516
Taiwan1599547537515
South Korea1570527528515
Hong Kong1560540520500
Estonia1547510526511
Canada1519497515507
Ireland1512492504516
Switzerland1494508503483

A different OECD study, which used multiple data points for 2018, including adult education level, chose Canada as the most intelligent nation. Japan placed second, while Israel came in third. Other high-ranking nations include Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Finland.

One of the more creative studies of intelligence is the 2017 Intelligence Capital Index, or ICI, which used several factors to determine not the smartest nations overall, but which nations were most likely to leverage their smartest citizens' intelligence to "expand the frontier of knowledge and/or introduce the technologies and innovations of the knowledge economy ... Big Data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, etc."

In the ICI study, the United States ranked number one and was the only nation to receive an A+ rating. Coming in second place was the United Kingdom, followed by Germany in third place. Other high-ranking nations on the ICI include Australia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Finland, and Denmark.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Intelligence Capital Index - 2017:

Country
ICI 2017 Score
ICI 2017 Grade
United States74.9A+
United Kingdom64.2A
Germany64.2A
Australia64A
Singapore63.6A
Switzerland61.6A
Sweden61.6A
Canada61.2A
Finland60.5A
Denmark60.3A
  • Substantial research on the subject of national IQs was conducted by psychologist Richard Lynn (1930-2023), working alongside the late Tatu Vanhanen (1929-2015) or, for 2019's The Intelligence of Nations, with David Becker.
  • Becker's estimates are categorized by source. T = value is based upon actual test results from said country. E = value is a best-guess estimate based upon measured values of nearby countries.
  • Becker's contributions were highly controversial. He promoted the theory that specific races and genders are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent than others, and both his methodology and his objectivity were often called into question. However, his work brought attention to the field and he is frequently (if often grudgingly) considered a pioneer in the field of national intelligence.
  • The OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial survey of 15-year-old students around the world that measures students' ability to recall learned knowledge and apply it in new settings both in and out of school. PISA results were most recently released in 2022.
  • The Intelligence Capital Index (ICI) was created by economist Kai L. Chan and most recently updated in 2017.

Download Table Data

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Country
IQ (Lynn/Becker)
Source (True/Est.)
ICI 2017 Grade
ICI 2017 Score
PISA 2022 Overall Score
PISA Math 2022
PISA Science 2022
PISA Reading 2022
Japan106.48TA-58.91599536547516
Taiwan106.47TB45.71599547537515
Singapore105.89TA63.61679575561543
Hong Kong105.37TB+51.21560540520500
China104.1TB47.31605552543510
South Korea102.35TA-56.41570527528515
Belarus101.6T
Finland101.2TA60.51485484511490
Liechtenstein101.07E
Germany100.74TA64.21447475492480
Netherlands100.74TA-58.71440493488459
Estonia100.72TB49.51547510526511
Luxembourg99.87EB+53.8
Macau99.82E
Cambodia99.75TD16.11012336347329
Canada99.52TA61.21519497515507
Australia99.24TA641492487507498
Hungary99.24TB501432473486473
Switzerland99.24TA61.61494508503483
United Kingdom99.12TA64.21483489500494
Greenland98.89T
North Korea98.82E
Slovenia98.6TB+51.51454485500469
New Zealand98.57TA-57.31484479504501
Austria98.38TA-58.71458487491480
Iceland98.26TB+521342459447436
Denmark97.83TA60.31472489494489
Belgium97.49TA-58.71459489491479
United States97.43TA+74.91468465499504
Norway97.13TB+551423468478477
Sweden97TA61.61463482494487
France96.69TA-56.71435474487474
Poland96.35TB45.61477489499489
Slovakia96.32TB-43.61373464462447
Russia96.29TB46.6
Lithuania95.89TB46.31431475484472
Croatia95.75TC+38.51421463483475
Andorra95.2E
Ireland95.13TB+53.61512492504516
Czech Republic94.92TB+51.81474487498489
Latvia94.79TB45.81452483494475
Italy94.23TB481430471477482
Vanuatu93.92E
New Caledonia93.92E
Spain93.9TB49.81432473485474
Bermuda93.48T
Cyprus93.39TC+38.51210418411381
Portugal92.77TB-44.81433472484477
Israel92.43TB+50.11397458465474
Barbados91.6T
Malta91.27TB-40.81377466466445
Myanmar91.18E
Mongolia91.03TC-27.41215425412378
Bulgaria90.99TB-43.31242417421404
Greece90.77TB-40.11309430441438
Suriname90.29E
Ukraine90.07TC+38.31319441450428
Moldova89.98EC31.51242414417411
Serbia89.6TC+35.21327440447440
Vietnam89.53TC-25.11403469472462
Iraq89.28T
Uzbekistan89.01T1055364355336
Kazakhstan88.89TC+35.11234425423386
Thailand88.87TC-29.21182394409379
Armenia88.82EC-29.6
Bosnia and Herzegovina88.54TC-25.8
Costa Rica88.34TC32.41211385411415
Bhutan87.94E
Chile87.89TC+37.81304412444448
Mexico87.73TC30.71220395410415
Tajikistan87.71TD+23.1
Uruguay87.59EC+37.91274409435430
Malaysia87.58TC+35.51213409416388
Brunei87.58E1317442446429
Bahamas86.99T
Romania86.88TC+39.41284428428428
Turkey86.8TC33.41385453476456
Argentina86.63TB-40.51185378406401
Sri Lanka86.62TD+23.2
Mauritius86.56TC31.7
Turkmenistan85.86E
Montenegro85.78EC34.61214406403405
Azerbaijan84.81EC-28.61142397380365
Georgia84.5EC31.51148390384374
Turks and Caicos Islands84.29E
Paraguay84.04ED+24.51079338368373
Fiji83.96E
Solomon Islands83.96E
Samoa83.96E
Kiribati83.96E
Micronesia83.96E
Tonga83.96E
Marshall Islands83.96T
Cook Islands83.96E
Cuba83.9T
Bahrain83.6TC-29.6
Brazil83.38TC+36.21192379403410
Guyana83.23E
Colombia83.13TC-27.91203383411409
Venezuela82.99TC-26.8
Cayman Islands82.24E
Afghanistan82.12E
Haiti82.1T
Dominican Republic82.05TD+23.91050339360351
United Arab Emirates82.05TC+35.91280431432417
Puerto Rico81.99T
North Macedonia81.91EC-28.31128389380359
Albania81.75ED+23.41102368376358
Lebanon81.7TD19.8
Philippines81.64TC-26.61058355356347
Peru81.44TC-281207391408408
Northern Mariana Islands81.36E
Laos80.99TD18.8
Libya80.92T
Qatar80.78TC31.31265414432419
Jordan80.7TC-261078361375342
Maldives80.54E
Iran80.01TC-25.5
Pakistan80TD19.6
Grenada79.34E
Tunisia79.22ED+24.8
Kyrgyzstan79.09TC-27.2
Panama79EC-28.81137357388392
Sudan78.87T
Chad78.87ED-10.3
Seychelles78.76T
Oman78.7TC-27.1
Kuwait78.64TC-29.8
Indonesia78.49TD+23.71108366383359
Papua New Guinea78.49E
Ecuador78.26TC-25.3
Palestine77.69T1084366369349
Senegal77.37ED-13.2
Comoros77.07E
Madagascar76.79ED-9
British Virgin Islands76.69E
Bolivia76.53TD+22.3
Uganda76.42TD-12.4
Saudi Arabia76.36TC30.21162389390383
Egypt76.32TD+21.6
India76.24TC-29.4
Algeria76ED19.1
Kenya75.2TD19.3
Angola75.1T
Jamaica75.08TC-26.71190377403410
Tanzania74.95TD-14.4
Syria74.41T
Bangladesh74.33TD16.9
Zimbabwe74.01TD-11.7
Burkina Faso73.8T
Saint Lucia73.68E
Mozambique72.5ED-10.9
Burundi72.09ED-8.8
Niger70.82E
Antigua and Barbuda70.48E
Saint Kitts and Nevis70.48E
Rwanda69.95ED-9.9
Benin69.71ED-12.8
Malawi69.7TD-10.7
El Salvador69.63ED+21.71081343373365
Botswana69.45TD+23.9
South Africa68.87TC33
Lesotho68.87ED16.1
Eswatini68.87E
Eritrea68.77T
Zambia68.43ED18.9
Ethiopia68.42TD-10.3
Djibouti68.41E
Nigeria67.76TD-13.9
Cameroon67.76ED17.8
Somalia67.67T
Morocco67.03TD+22.61069365365339
Namibia66.19TD18.9
Dominica66.03T
Sao Tome and Principe65.22E
DR Congo64.92T
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines63.42T
Republic of the Congo62.97T
Gabon62.97E
Yemen62.86T
Central African Republic62.55E
Belize62.55E
Honduras62.16ED+20.2
Togo59.83E
Mali59.76TD-9.9
Mauritania59.76ED-11.6
South Sudan58.61T
Ghana58.16TD17.4
Ivory Coast58.16E
Guinea53.48ED-6.8
Nicaragua52.69TD+22.5
Gambia52.68T
Cape Verde52.5E
Guatemala47.72TD+22.81091344373374
Sierra Leone45.07T
Liberia45.07E
Nepal42.99TD18.3
Total438.69447.99436.19
showing: 197 rows

Which country has the highest IQ?

Japan has the world's highest IQ with an average of 106.48.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources