Ranking countries by intelligence can be a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. There are so many different types of education and intelligence that you can run into trouble trying to stack one up against another. For example, one of the most popular ways to measure intelligence is with the IQ test. There have been endless studies as to whether a standardized test can accurately convey the education level and aptitude in areas like memory, creativity, or job performance. Also, if an IQ test is developed by, say, a European country, wouldn’t it automatically favour the kind of intelligence that is fostered in European schools and give a disadvantage to people from different continents and cultures?
There are other ways to measure intelligence in a nation as well. One can look at school test scores in areas like science and math. This gives an indication of how school-aged kids are learning and performing in a country, which is a good way to look at how a country’s education system works. Another way to look at the intelligence of a country is to examine a country’s contributions to the fields of math and science.
If a country is churning out inventions and research, that seems like a good indicator of the intelligence of its scientists, but perhaps not of its general population. Some people also look at the education level of a country by examining how many people in its population have undergrad degrees, masters degrees, or PhDs. However, this system is inherently biased towards countries that have cheap or free postsecondary education systems, and is more a question of accessibility of education than actual intelligence. In this list, we’ll take a look at the top ten countries in terms of intelligence, ranked by IQ but considering other factors as well for 2018.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Countries In The World – 2018 List
If you’re not completely familiar with how an IQ test works, they are designed so than an average IQ will be around one hundred. Usually, somewhere around sixty percent of the people that take an IQ test will get a score in the range around one hundred. The tenth country on this list, Sweden, marks the beginning of countries that have an average IQ that is higher than the watermark of one hundred. Sweden has a good education system, with many education costs covered by the government so that education is accessible to anyone with the mental aptitude. They come in second in the world when it comes to computer usage at work. In Sweden, more than seventy five percent of workers use computers at their jobs. They also have one of the highest populations of citizens with degrees in higher education in the world. The average IQ in Sweden is around 101.
The next three countries on this list all have an average IQ that rounds to the same whole number, so they will be listed in alphabetical order even though they are all tied. Strangely, these three countries all border each other as well. This could mean that they have similar cultural influences and context which make it so that their IQ test performance is very similar. It could also be that because of proximity, these three countries have similar education systems. Austria is said to be a country with one of the best education systems in the world. Austria has the second highest percentage of people with PhDs who are in the workforce of any country. For every thousand people in the country, around seven females will have a PhD, and around nine males will as well. The average IQ in Austria is 102.
Germany historically has had a high percentage of great thinkers. When one thinks of the fields of philosophy, science, and many of the arts, there have been many influential German minds. This is likely due to a very high amount of German citizens graduating with degrees in science, math, technology, and engineering. In fact, they have the third highest number of people graduating with STEM degrees, despite the fact that their population isn’t really that large compared with many other countries. Germany has the best GDP of any country, and also has some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The average IQ in Germany is 102.
The tradition of innovation in science and technology in Italy goes back hundreds of years, of course. When we think of Italy, we are quickly lead to thoughts of the Roman Empire or the Italian Renaissance. Some of the greatest sculptors, painters, writers, and poets all hail from the boot shaped country. But they’re carrying it on today with above average progress in the fields of math, science, physics, and other areas. The average IQ in Italy is around 102 as well.
Netherlands has a very good education system for children, ranking in ninth when it comes to the test scores of school-aged children in the fields of math and science. The country with the best education system in the world and the best school-aged test scores is said to be Finland. However, when looking at the average IQs of all the world’s countries, Finland comes in at a fairly lowly number twenty nine. This perhaps illustrates the difficulty of ranking a country’s intelligence by IQ. IQ is seemingly based on problem solving and quickness, which are not always things that can be taught. Education, on the other hand, can be more geared towards memorization and general knowledge, which aren’t as useful on an IQ test. The average IQ in Holland is 103.
From here on out, the rest of the countries on this list are all in Asia. Tied with Netherlands when it comes to average IQ is Singapore, the little island city-state at the southern part of Malaysia. Singapore is an important area for technology, as well as business and finance. Its students are always around the top in the world when it comes to performance in the fields of math and science. In fact, they currently are number one in the world when it comes to student test scores. Singapore’s great education system might come as a result of their powerhouse status when it comes to trade. Their super high GDP and ease of trade provide them with tons of money to fund education and social projects. The average IQ in Singapore is 103.
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world as well as being one of the smartest. When it comes to the test scores of its students, it comes in forth, in a tie with Japan. Taiwan is world renowned for its advances in technology, as well as for its devotion to its public education system. Many people in Taiwan are bilingual. Because one of Taiwan’s biggest trading partners is the United States, many young people have studied to become fluent in English to give themselves increased career prospects. The average IQ in Taiwan is 104.
As alluded to earlier, Japan is tied for forth when it comes to the quality of education that its students received. Japan is notorious for having a difficult childhood education philosophy, with students studying long hours to prepare for difficult exams. When it comes to scientific research, Japan has increasingly been one of the top countries in the world. The University of Tokyo makes lists of the best universities to attend in the world, and is considered to be the best university in Asia. The literacy rate in Japan is ninety nine percent, one of the highest in the world. It’s unclear how related this could be said to be to intelligence, but Japan is also the place in the world where people have the highest life expectancy. The average IQ in Japan is 105.
2. South Korea
The business news company Bloomberg has said that South Korea is the most “innovative” of all countries in the world. Their students have the third best test scores of any country, and they spend a lot of money on research and development projects. The very advanced nation of South Korea has the highest percentage of its population with a STEM degree, with over thirty percent of the adult population with a degree in one of those fields. South Korea is said to have the fastest and most reliable internet in the world. Those high internet speeds are both a sign of its commitment to science and research, and could be linked to their technological progress. The downfall of South Korea’s education system is that it is dangerously competitive. As a result of difficult testing, long school hours, and competitive schools, South Korea is known for having a high suicide rate among students. The average IQ in South Korea is 106.
1. Hong Kong
It’s always up for debate if someone should include Hong Kong on a list like this because it isn’t technically a country. It’s a “special administrative region” in China. However, to ignore Hong Kong on a list like this would be to ignore a country of millions with the highest IQ of any country, which would be a shame. Hong Kong’s students receive the second best math and science test scores of any country, and is said to have the second best education system after Finland. Many students in Hong Kong will enrol in extra classes outside of school to round out their educations better and improve their future prospects. That kind of dedication to education can be hard for us to imagine for those of us in North America. Obviously, the hard work has paid off in Hong Kong. Their average IQ is 107.
So that’s our take on the most intelligent countries in 2018. Do you agree or disagree? If so let us know in the comments section.