northern vs. southern spanish iq, redux

**update 08/03/12: see bottom of post.**

to find out whether or not there are regional differences in iq in spain, the reluctant apostate suggested looking at the pisa scores (which seem to be a good proxy for iq scores) from 2009 for spain, which are broken down regionally here. so i did.

they look like this:

Reading
Spain (Castile and Leon) 507
Spain (Catalonia) 499
Spain (Madrid) 499
Spain (Basque Country) 496
Spain (Navarre) 495
Spain (Aragon) 492
Spain (Asturias) 492
Spain (Cantabria) 488
Spain (La Rioja) 488
Spain (Murcia) 484
Spain (Galicia) 483

Spain (Balearic Islands) 461
Spain (Andalusia) 458
Spain (Canary Islands) 444
Spain (Ceuta and Melilla) 403

Mathematics
Spain (Castile and Leon) 514
Spain (Navarre) 511
Spain (Basque Country) 510
Spain (Aragon) 506
Spain (La Rioja) 504
Spain (Catalonia) 496
Spain (Madrid) 496
Spain (Cantabria) 495
Spain (Asturias) 494
Spain (Galicia) 489
Spain (Murcia) 478

Spain (Balearic Islands) 464
Spain (Andalusia) 462
Spain (Canary Islands) 435
Spain (Ceuta and Melilla) 417

Science
Spain (Castile and Leon) 516
Spain (La Rioja) 509
Spain (Navarre) 509
Spain (Madrid) 508
Spain (Galicia) 506
Spain (Aragon) 505
Spain (Asturias) 502
Spain (Cantabria) 500
Spain (Catalonia) 497
Spain (Basque Country) 495
Spain (Murcia) 484

Spain (Andalusia) 469
Spain (Balearic Islands) 461
Spain (Canary Islands) 452
Spain (Ceuta and Melilla) 416

as you can see, the further south — or offshore — you go in spain, the lower the pisa scores. here’s a map of the different regions in spain:

in fact, while the scores of most of the regions become gradually lower by a few points in each instance, the scores of the four lowest regions (andalusia, the balearic islands, the canary island, and ceuta & melilla [which are actually in morocco]) drop off dramatically by anywhere from 14 to 22 points compared to the next highest scoring region (e.g. in reading, the balearic islands score was 461, while the next highest was galicia at 483, a 22 point difference).

v. weiss suggests that a maths pisa score of 463 — the closest to the andalucia score of 462 — is the equivalent of an iq of 93, whereas a pisa score of 514 — the score of the highest scoring region, castile and leon — is the equivalent of an iq of 99.

if he’s correct, that would give the southernmost region of spain an iq like that of greece, while the average iq of people in one of the largest northern regions is more like that of poland or hungary.

so, maybe there is a north vs. south iq division in spain like the one found in italy (although the existence of that one has been disputed).

previously: españa al norte frente al sur

update: see also the reluctant apostate’s awesome maps of italy and spain’s pisa scores, which are awesome (the maps, that is, not necessarily the scores). (~_^)

update 08/03/12: frank is doubtful that there is a north-south divide in pisa scores in spain. the numbers say differently (latitudes grabbed from geohack):

(note: comments do not require and email.)

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30 Comments

  1. @IHTG
    Nope, the countries that are subdivided are Belgium (Flemish>German>French), Finland (Finnish>Swedish), the UK (depends on test, but the Welsh are consistently the lowest scorers), Spain, and Italy.

    On the topic of the last two, I have a post with maps showing the regional results in Italy and Spain. The gap between Castilla y León and Andalucía is not quite as great as the gap between Lombardy and Sicily, though it’s to that between Castilla y León to Las Islas Canarias. Ceuta and Melilla, being essentially Moroccan cities under Spanish control, come in with the lowest scores of them all.

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  2. I thought it was interesting that three of the autonomous communities in Spain were left out and it just so happens that they’re the three that are directly north of Andalucía and Murcia.

    Another point of note was that Galicia did fairly poorly on the Reading section relative to the other two, and I wonder if that’s related to the fact that galego is essentially a dialect of Portugese.

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  3. Checking back, Galicia’s Mathematics score was only marginally better than it’s Reading score (its Science score is the one that stands out). For some historical reference on the languages of Iberia, here’s an animated Wikipedia map. I suspect that there’s a bit of a “shadow of Mozarabic” effect in Andalucía, as Andalusian Spanish is a bit different than standard castellano.

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  4. @r.a. – “I thought it was interesting that three of the autonomous communities in Spain were left out and it just so happens that they’re the three that are directly north of Andalucía and Murcia.”

    well, that, maybe, explains the marked drop off in the scores. i was wondering what was up with that. i thought maybe the southerners were much dumber than the rest. maybe, tho, there really is a gradual reduction in scores from north to south, we just can’t see it since that handful of regions were left out.

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  5. I was thinking about the high performing regions. Lombardy is the home of Milan, which is a major international center for Italy and a center of research. I was trying to think whether there was anything similar that could be said of Castilla y León, which is the highest scoring in Spain. After all, the two biggest cities in Spain are Barcelona, in Cataluña and Madrid, which has its own autonomous community and neither of those two stand out particularly, while Castilla y León definitely does.

    The only thing that came to mind was Salamanca, which is host to Spain’s oldest university.

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  6. I’d be surprised if there were not regional variation in Spain. I’d be surprised if there was not regional variation in every country. If somebody looks at the different regions of Germany, they will very likely see regional variations.

    The regional variation in Spain does not follow a strict north-south alignment. Galicia, one of the lowest scoring regions, is at the same latitude as Castile, the highest scoring region.

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  7. @frank – “The regional variation in Spain does not follow a strict north-south alignment.”

    nobody said there was a strict north-south alignment of pisa scores, but there is definitely a broad north-south divide in pisa scores in spain. (see the update in the post above.)

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  8. The difference in PISA scores match closely the differences in litteracy of the different Spanish regions in the 50s. Rather than to genetic reasons, you should look at the social and economic differences of the pupils homes.

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  9. @history teacher from spain – “The difference in PISA scores match closely the differences in litteracy of the different Spanish regions in the 50s. Rather than to genetic reasons, you should look at the social and economic differences of the pupils homes.”

    the reverse is more likely: that southern spaniards have had lower literacy rates and poorer economic outcomes because they have a lower average iq/pisa scores compared to northern spain. that is most likely the flow of causation.

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  10. I’m Spaniard (Catalonian) and this article is very interesting but the reality is even more complex. In Spain the richest regions (Navarre, Basque Country and Catalonia) received a lot of inmigrants from south Spain during the XIX and XX century, in fact they are almost 40% of Catalonia population. So in order to make a good analysis of a north vs south division it would be necessary to take the PISA test of people with Basque or Catalan last names and not the test of whoever lives there. What I read is that Basques average about 101, I didn’t get any information about Catalonians.

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  11. @anonymous – “So in order to make a good analysis of a north vs south division it would be necessary to take the PISA test of people with Basque or Catalan last names and not the test of whoever lives there.”

    yes! that would be my sort of study, too. somebody has to arrange that! (^_^)

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  12. The problem with looking at surnames alone is that many Basques and Catalans have intermarried with descendants of migrants. In Spain you use both your father’s and mother’s surname and you can see from any list of ETA members alone many non-Basque surnames on one side or the other and even then we don’t know if they had a grandmother who wasn’t Basque. Rural areas would be an exception, I would think. Migrants were attracted to work of those regions respected cities.

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  13. @sup? – “The problem with looking at surnames alone is that many Basques and Catalans have intermarried with descendants of migrants.”

    ah ha! ok. thanks!

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  14. If you allow for the Flynn Effect and the different development of the local economies according to local geography, you realise the differences are easily accounted for by non genetic factors

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  15. I should also have added that genetic studies have shown that all Iberians, including Basques, are extremely closely related, that they only show a very minor north African influence, and that their nearest relatives by FST distances are the French, northern Italians and southern Germans.

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  16. JayMan, utter BS is not much of an argument. If you look at the geography of Spain, you’ll realise why the economies that developed in the different regions are so different. The relatively cut of agricultural, village based societies in the south working the big haciendas of the aristocracy for a pittance meant the economy, and therefore education was always more backward than in the north and especially in the areas like the Basque country and Barcelona that industrialised in the late nineteenth century. The Galicians rate fairly poorly, except in science, where they are among the best. That should warn us the differences are more to do with the local education systems than their innate intelligence. And as I stated before, Iberians cluster very closely together genetically.

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  17. @James Stevens:

    “The relatively cut of agricultural, village based societies in the south working the big haciendas of the aristocracy for a pittance meant the economy, and therefore education was always more backward than in the north and especially in the areas like the Basque country and Barcelona that industrialised in the late nineteenth century. The Galicians rate fairly poorly, except in science, where they are among the best. That should warn us the differences are more to do with the local education systems than their innate intelligence. And as I stated before, Iberians cluster very closely together genetically.”

    This is silly when said for Southern Italians, this is silly when said for American Blacks, and it’s silly when said for Southern Spaniards. There are numerous links to reasons why this is so. Read around.

    “And as I stated before, Iberians cluster very closely together genetically.”

    Reread the above comments.

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  18. We are not talking of anything like the big educational differences that exist in the USA. And Galicia’s good score in science but mediocre scores in literacy and mathematics should be taken as a loud warning that the differences we’re looking at may have more to do with the differences in local education systems and local attitudes than as evidence of the innate intellectual capacities of students.

    And Spaniards do cluster together genetically much more than do Italians: http://eurogenes.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/the-fateful-triangle.html

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  19. @James Stevens:

    “We are not talking of anything like the big educational differences that exist in the USA.”

    Magnitude is irrelevant. A difference is still a difference.

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  20. I wasn’t denying that there being some iq differences in Spain, What I’ve been contesting is the suggestion that Spain’s south is less developed because of lower iq. The south was held back by the great haciendas that employed people as labourers on very low wages until not that long ago. The north had quite a different situation. Furthermore, during the Franco years, there was a decision made to heavily invest in the infrastructure and heavy industries in the north to kick start the so called “Spanish miracle” of the 60s. Add the Flynn Effect that kicks in as a region develops, and the differences, which are not that great, are largely accounted for.

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  21. @James Stevens:

    “I wasn’t denying that there being some iq differences in Spain, What I’ve been contesting is the suggestion that Spain’s south is less developed because of lower iq.”

    Occam’s Razor is your friend, not your enemy.

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  22. Indeed you do see a difference in IQ and of reproductive patterns between southern Spain and northern Spain.

    Southern Spain is outside the the territory delimited by the Hajnal line.

    Coincidentally, southern Spain is the part of that territory that was occupied by Muslims for hundreds of years in the middle ages (Moors, that is to say, Berbers and Arabs).
    Its safe to assume there is a little bit of admixture with non whites down there. It shaved off some IQ points and changed them behaviorally.

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  23. Though this is an old thread, I just came across it, and wanted to make a comment:

    The flow of causation in some of the cases touched on above is a matter of historical record.

    In the 19th century Spain’s central government designed a tax regimen favorable to those industries in regions bordering France, believing their development would facilitate export into the continent (given geographic proximity). Madrid further invested in highways and railways in Catalonia for the same reason. Even Franco concentrated certain competencies in Catalonia (expos/product fairs meant to attract foreign investment were not to be held outside Catalonia and Valencia, by executive order).

    Galicia’s linen industry (for example) was simply not seen as being as valuable as Catalonia’s cotton by Spain’s central planners. Thusly were advantages reaped from Madrid’s strategic outlook, and not merely from local genetics.

    (I’m all about HBD, but with a close eye on the vacillations of history.)

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  24. Not really J. Barker. The central goverment didn’t play a role in industrialization until Franco. The first regions to industrialize were also the regions were trading and commerce was more important which provided enough capital to start building factories, as well as other factors like a more advanced agrarian system, higher salaries, etc. And it all happened thanks to local entrepreneurs, businessmen and bankers, not the goverment. Just an example: the first railway in Spain was build in Catalonia to unite the cities of Barcelona and Mataró. At first it was funded solely by catalan capitalists but when it became obvious there wasn’t enough money they had to go to England to convince english capitalists to put the other half of the money. The only thing the spanish goverment did was give permission to build the railway, that’s all.
    In fact these businessmen organized to lobby for their interests because the goverment had a backward mindset and didn’t see commerce and industry as a way the push the economy of the country forward.

    It was actually Andalusia and Galicia that had a monolopy on trade with the Spanish Empire, specially through the port of Cadiz, but industrialization didn’t materialise there.
    Catalonia started manufacturing textiles in the decade of 1720 (roughly like England) but the Carlist Wars and lose of the colonies stopped its development until around 1830 with the introduction of steam engines, which is when we can talk about a real industrial revolution. By the second half of this century the Basque Country and Asturias developed its industry, specially centered in siderurgy. In other parts of Spain industrialization either failed or started to late and was too weak to compete with the more developed regions. From here it took Franco and his state sponsored projects to create industry in the rest of Spain, Madrid in the forties last century during the “período de autarquía” and other important cities in the sixties thanks to the “planes de desarrollo”.

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  25. If you notice in Spain be it either where industrialization began, GDP and income per capita of its regions, test scores, etc. there is a cline that goes from the Pyrenees to the southwest of the country. Imo it is HBD based, but since it is not exactly north-south it can lead to some confusions.

    Check the income per capita of each spanish province:

    Indeed we can see a cline that goes from the northeast to the southwest.

    And about PISA scores you have to keep in mind that Catalonia and the Basque Country received millions of immigrants from other parts of Spain, to the point that natives are a minority and specially in the student age range. Also the amount of third world immigrants is specially high in Madrid and all the mediterranean coast, while in the west of the country is very low.
    I couldn’t find anything about the Basque country but in Catalonia there is data about the maternal language of the students. Here are the results from 2015 in Catalonia:

    Maths/Reading/science
    Spanish speaking: 488,2/487,5/491,6
    Catalan speaking: 525,6/525,4/533,2

    The spanish speaking group are virtually all descended from immigrants from other parts of Spain, specially Andalusia and the whole south. The catalan speaking group includes both ethnic catalans and castilians because the offspring of spanish immigrants in Catalonia and now in their 3rd, 4th and 5th generation so many adopted catalan as their language. Unfortunately there is no data to separate on the basis of ethnic origins but my guess is that even in the catalan speaking category fully ethnic catalans are a minority.
    More info here: http://files.convivenciacivica.org/Analisis%20de%20los%20Resultados%20de%20PISA%202015%20en%20Catalu%C3%B1a.pdf

    What is strange for me is the low score of the Basque Country because the majority of the spanish immigrants there originated in Castilla y León, which is the highest scoring region overall.

    Reply

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