What does it take to make a nation great? What makes a country a great place to live, a healthy society, and a bastion of stability? Various theories and ideas have been put forward, and I think they are all pretty much bunk. I think we can apply a little reductionism here, and conclude that national prosperity is a function of just two factors. Allow me to quote myself from an earlier posting (emphasis added):
A lot of people talk about the determining factors behind national success. Lots of factors have been invoked. The HBD-aware invoke (of course) average IQ, but many countries in the world show that that’s not enough. So other factors get invoked. Due to the correlational nature of these, assessing causation is difficult – unless you use behavioral traits, which are (sorry blank and half slatists) largely inherited.
Here’s some of the factors that don’t matter:
Size (see Japan [large], Finland [small], and any number of small dysfunctional countries)
Diversity *per se* (e.g. Switzerland [diverse], Albania [homogenous], China [homogenous])
Resources (e.g. Arab oil states [resource rich], S. Korea [resource poor])
All that matters are two things: high average IQ, and high-trust people. You can even have several high-trust populations (e.g. Switzerland). And that’s all.
“Diversity” becomes a problem, really, only when there’s one or more clannish populations in the mix. Virtually ALL the “diversity” problems currently being experienced by Western countries is conflict between the non-clannish base populations and one [or] more clannish minorities. Switzerland manages fine with three different (relatively) non-clannish populations. So does, for that matter, Belgium and even France (Occitania – future discussion). Meanwhile, “homogenous” Italy, Albania, and Greece flounder.
Size, to the extent that it correlates with problems, only occurs because large states tend to encompass multiple populations – often clannish ones. So, trouble sometimes ensues. But size is not inherently a problem so long as the state manages to be primarily comprised of high-trust groups.
When you look around the world, you can see that average IQ and non-clannish (or at least high-trust, in the case of the Japanese and other similar “in-betweeners” – possibly includes Singapore and Taiwan) people make the difference. All the rest stem from these. These two things can explain 100% of the variance (haven’t checked, but maybe I will).
Of course, the challenge is that, with the possible exception of the Semai [see here], there are no low-IQ non-clannish/high-trust populations, which are basically confined to NW Europe.
It’s helpful to talk about this, to quality check these ideas, but it’s hard to ignore the above realities.
I would be tempted to add a key component a nonviolent, genetically pacified populace (see my own Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality and Western Europe, state formation, and genetic pacification by Peter Frost), but every non-clannish population is also relatively non-violent. The two go hand-in-hand, so this factor is a given.
Two factors: that is all. Various (often ad-hoc) explanations have been put forward as explanations for national wealth and stability. At least within the HBD-sphere, average IQ is accepted as being important, and there is no question that it is. But it’s clearly not the only factor. To demonstrate this, allow me to borrow this chart from Anatoly Karlin:
As we’ve previously seen, national wealth exists in a curvilinear relationship with national IQ. There’s a massive increase in overall wealth towards the high end of the range. Looking at this high end is where we get our insight.
At this high IQ end, we note that the high economic performers are Northwestern European (or NW Euro-derived) while the low performers are Northeastern European or East Asian. That is, Eastern European and East Asian countries do considerably worse economically than comparably intelligent Northwestern European countries.
This compares to another curvilinear relationship, that between average IQ and corruption:
This follows the “HBD Chick” divide of the world (see my earlier post here):
Hence, despite a distribution of IQ that looks something like this:
We see national indicators which look like this:
I wanted to address this because of one common theme that goes around in the HBD-sphere. That diversity, in and of itself, is a source of strife and conflict. I will argue that it’s not. Indeed, compare the above peace index map to this map of ethnic diversity within a country:
Much of this wisdom on the inherent problems posed by diversity comes from a 2007 paper by Robert Putnam on diversity and trust in the United States. He found that the greater the diversity in a place, the less likely people are to report that they trust their neighbors, both of other races and of the same race:
HBD Chick once discussed this study. What I find interesting (besides the over all correlation) is the overall pattern. Note that the high-scorers cluster towards the northern part of the country while the low-scorers generally cluster closer to the south. Some of that is due to greater diversity in the southern part of the country, but it’s not just that. Look at the outliers. Places like East Tennessee and West Virginia score low relative to their diversity, as do cities like Detroit. These areas are pretty homogenous – but homogenous with clannish populations. East Tennessee and West Virginia are deep in Appalachia and hence are predominantly Scots-Irish in make up, while Detroit is predominantly Black.
On the flip side, two of the highest scorers are in the Dakotas, a region which is heavily Scandinavian and German in ethnic make up. As we saw in my previous post (Demography is Destiny, American Nations Edition) precise ethnic make-up is highly important.
In fact, when looked at closely, it’s clear that what Putnam is measuring isn’t diversity at all, but the absence of clannish people. Each locale scores similarly to areas with people who are similarly clannish.
Yet, Maine is an ethnically diverse state. Sure, it’s 94.4% non-Hispanic White, but as we should have seen in my previous few posts (as well as this one), not all Whites are created equal. Precise ethnicity matters. In Maine’s case, here there is a mix of English Puritans, Scots (both Ulster Scots as well as Highlanders), French (including long time Acadian residents and more recent Québécois immigrants), Irish, Native Americans, and a smattering of others. Yet people get along here just fine. Similar is true in places like Minnesota and the Dakotas which contain primarily German, Scandinavian, and English populations.
What this goes to show is that diversity is not much of an issue in itself. You can have a “diverse” mix of non-clannish, W.E.I.R.D.O. populations without much trouble. The entire nation of Canada is evidence of this point. Yet even a homogenous clannish population will usually have issues (see China, Albania, or Southern Italy).
Now at this point, some commenters might bring up certain East Asian nations as being a challenge for this pattern. But they are not. Japan is for one a decidedly different society than its fellow East Asian nations; indeed, it is rather unique in the world. Japan is an “in-betweener” in terms of clannishness, being a type of shame culture like clannish societies but yet having a high level of trust in non-relatives (so long as they’re Japanese) – unlike typical clannish societies.
Hong Kong and Singapore, being city-states with select (and elite) populations are quite different from mainland China. That they are outliers in the region is not surprising (although Singapore employs draconian anti-corruption measures as well).
As for Taiwan, while the overall corruption perception map lists it on the low side, one of Transparency International’s surveys there found that 36% of respondents reporting paying a bribe in the previous year. This is comparable to Mexico. In any case, Taiwan was largely settled by immigrants from the Fuijan province of China. There is considerable regional variation within China; it is possible that there are sub-populations in the country which are less clannish than others.
And there’s the matter of the Koreas. North Korea scores poorer on virtually every measure than does its southern counterpart. Many take this to be an example of the role of the state and institutions in national outcomes, and indeed, the North Korean regime is responsible for a good bit of the difference. (Though, contrary to many of these commenters, I don’t think we can consider the Koreas as examples of pure “environmental” effect – see Stop Saying North and South Koreans Are Necessarily Completely Identical Populations.) However, South Korea scores much closer to its more clannish East Asian neighbors than it does to Japan. The two Koreas – while quite different in outcome – aren’t necessarily as different as it may first appear.
But the situation in North Korea does often lead to another charge: that the high-IQ but under-performing countries do so because of a legacy of communism. But that argument is weak for several reasons. For one, the differences between Eastern Europe/East Asia and the West existed long before communism. As well, communism is long gone in many of these places and we generally don’t see convergence with the West in any of the aforementioned indicators or many of the others discussed on this blog or elsewhere. Clannishness is neither unique to communist societies nor has it abated in its absence, and all of these societies continue right along on exhibiting clannish behavior. And finally, as HBD Chick would ask, where did communism come from? Why was it embraced where and when it was? Varying clannishness is simply a more parsimonious explanation.
As for the matter of resources as a driver of national prosperity, a cursory look around the globe quickly disproves that. But this an argument levied more by conventional voices. It is pretty much understood within the HBD-sphere that average IQ drives differences in national wealth and not the other way around, as some claim. My earlier post Welcome Readers from Portugal! details this matter. Despite their wealth, the Arab oil states are no better off intellectually. Relative poverty has not stunted the Chinese in cognitive ability.
The origin of national prosperity has perplexed many thinkers of the matter. Several theories have been put forward, often either overly complex and/or lacking in explanatory power. Simple reductionism shows that prosperity is primarily a matter of two factors: high intelligence and low clannishness. All you need is to be near the upper right section of this plot:
In the end, this shouldn’t be really surprising. After all, an advanced, modern society needs not only smart people to be the innovators and the facilitators, but it also needs a climate of trust that makes doing business possible and more frictionless. The NW European societies (and a few others, such as the Japanese) have these qualities and prosper in today’s world. The rest, not so much. These nations will continue to improve, but they will never match Western levels in either development or national stability. Only time will tell if the very qualities that make NW European societies so successful, such as high-trust and a penchant for altruism ultimately end up doing them in, since they continue to import people from these less successful corners of the world.