The Good Country Index, Cognitive Ability and Culture

In: Comparative Sociology
Heiner Rindermann Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology Germany

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Noah Carl Independent researcher Cambridge UK

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The Good Country Index (GCI) measures countries’ contributions to global prosperity in domains such as peace, climate and health. It is known that political institutions and wealth can enhance a country’s ability to be ‘good’. However, past research has shown that the cognitive ability of a society – and of its intellectual classes in particular – as well as education and background factors such as culture and evolutionary history, may be particularly important for socio-economic development. Using correlations, cross-sectional path analyses and longitudinal path analyses, we examined the GCI’s relationships with the following variables: average cognitive ability, cognitive level of intellectual classes, evolutionary history, culture (indicated by religion), consanguinity, education, politics (rule of law, freedom, democracy) and wealth (GDP per capita). There was considerable overlap between measures of politics and the GCI (e.g., freedom; empirically r = .76 to .84). The most important variable for explaining international differences in the GCI was the cognitive level of intellectual classes (around r = .72), followed by indicators of culture (r = .64 to .69). Benefits and limitations of the intellectual class approach are discussed.

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