Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Very Low IQ People and Job Opportunities

David B. emails:

I was listening to Dr. Jordan Peterson and he mentioned that about 10% of society is made up of people with an IQ of 83 or less. He mentions this as a structural problem that society needs to figure out, as there are no real occupations that correspond to IQ levels that low.

It seems to me, however,  that unemployment in societies with a large amount of laissez faire traditionally had unemployment rates that were very low, 3-4%. Is that true?

If so does that mean free market societies have more solutions for low IQ members than other societies? If so, how?

David B

RW response:

I am a big fan of Jordan Peterson but I find him to be weakest when it comes to economics. If indeed 10% of the population does have an IQ of 83 or less, I don't see that as a "structural problem."

But first, to your point of unemployment rates as low as 3-4%, The current U3 unemployment rate in the United States is 3.7%. This is the "headline" rate reported by the media when unemployment rates are reported every month by the Department of Labor.  It measures the number of people who are jobless but actively seeking employment. So it could be argued that those with an IQ below 83 are not looking for jobs and, thus, not even counted in the U3 number.

That said, Paul Cooijmans, a student of IQ, reports that many low IQ people can function in limited job situations even down to the IQ range of 35 to 49:
Descriptions of the I.Q. ranges 
Lower than 20 — Profound retardation
Usually multi-handicapped with obvious physical deformities and short life expectancy. Heavily dependent on others. Can learn no or only the very simplest tasks.

20-34 — Severely retarded
Basic intellectual tasks, including language, are difficult to learn. Can learn some self-care behaviour but remain dependent on others. There are usually motor problems and physical anomalies. Usually not employable...

35-49 — Moderately retarded
Can learn simple life skills and employment tasks with special education. May be employed in special settings, and achieve some independence. Often socially immature. Self-awareness — having an inner image of self, realizing that one is a person separate from the others around one — may exist from here on, but is not guaranteed to exist as it depends on more than intelligence alone...

50-69 — Mildly retarded
Educable, can learn to care for oneself, employable in routinized jobs but require supervision. Might live alone but do best in supervised settings. Immature but with adequate social adjustment, usually no obvious physical anomalies...

70-79 — Borderline retarded
Limited trainability. Have difficulty with everyday demands like using a phone book, reading bus or train schedules, banking, filling out forms, using appliances like a video recorder, microwave oven, or computer, et cetera, and therefore require assistance from relatives or social workers in the management of their affairs. Can be employed in simple tasks but require supervision.

80-89 — Below average
Above the threshold for normal independent functioning. Can perform explicit routinized hands-on tasks without supervision as long as there are no moments of choice and it is always clear what has to be done. Assembler, food service.
Cooijmans also notes that the 80-89 range "is the range into which men of average or just above average intelligence sink when under the influence of alcohol..."

According to Assessment Psychology, only 2.2% of the population have an IQ below 69.

I would think that the primary reason a person with an IQ between 50-80 doesn't have a job is because he is being taken care of by someone and isn't looking for a job or even if he did want a job, rather than not having any productive value, he is being prevented from finding a job because of minimum wage laws that require payment above his marginal revenue product.

Very low IQ is just a vicious part of nature made worse by government wage laws that provide these people with little in terms of opportunity to be a useful part of the workforce.

There is no "structural" problem. Remove the minimum wage and let's see what the free market can come up with for jobs for these people. Maybe we can finally have someone to pump gas again so we don't have to do it ourselves, unload boxes from a truck, have someone on the spot to clean tables at fast casuals, whatever.

If they have no productive value, well then that is a cruel slap of nature, a different "structure" will not make them productive. They will have to be fully taken care of, just like a young child, and one would think that would occur under better circumstances in a  free market economy which raises the general standard of living.


  1. Clearly Peterson is wrong about this. Low IQ people can get a job as a Lab Manager.

    1. I would challenge my smarts to yours any day of the week. You would be a low bar to beat.

    2. I'm in favor of anyone who disrupts the echo chamber. If hearing a difference of opinion ruins your day, then you've given up on thinking. Use the differing opinion to challenge and sharpen your own views. Of course, in the end, I think we all choose politics based on what we perceive as most beneficial to our own self-interests. As a result, all of this blather over politics is really just a sneaky way for people to talk about themselves in order to posture in front of others.

  2. Very thorough answer, Bob. I appreciate it. Minimum wage laws and other government interventions are especially cruel to the disabled. Government application of one-size-fits-all policies have the least adaptability to outliers. I am going to follow up with you later about a story of how TSA "handles" a person in my family with a physical disability when he travels.

    David B.

    1. The problem of do gooders reminds me of the story of the freak shows. A bunch of do gooders put freak shows out of business for being cruel, etc. Problem is they never asked the freaks. The people who worked in the freak shows were angry with the do gooders. They made good money and had winters off in Florida or someplace warm as I recall. They rightfully and correctly considered themselves entertainers and the way they made their living by their own choice was put out of business by those who were claimed to have 'helped' them.

  3. My wife works in a group home environment and these borderline individuals being cared for are often just as valuable to an employer than a higher IQ individual.

  4. “Maybe we can finally have someone to pump gas again so we don't have to do it ourselves…”

    What has government done to our gas stations?
    1955 https://youtu.be/WY2w2-CAKgM?t=26
    2015 https://youtu.be/d68yRIE9OvQ?t=52

  5. Let's try some science!

    What is the margin of error on an IQ test result?