Smart Fraction Theory

A Comprehensive Re-evaluation

In: Comparative Sociology
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard Ulster Institute for Social Research London UK

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Noah Carl Independent researcher Cambridge UK

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Previous studies have found that the ability of a country’s cognitive elite is generally more predictive than the average ability. However, these studies have relied on sub-optimal methods. Here, the authors tested smart fraction theory, as it is known, using a pre-residualization approach, which obviates the problem of collinearity. For outcome variables, they utilised the 51 indicators of the Social Progress Index, as well as 6 economic variables. Like in previous research, the authors operationalized the ability of the intellectual class as the 95th percentile score. Consistent with smart fraction theory, they found evidence that the ability of the intellectual class does influence outcomes over and above that of the average ability. For the 93 countries with available data, average ability explained 57% of the variation in country performance. Adding the 95th percentile score increased this to 66%. The authors discuss their findings in light of the existing literature.

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