What Meritocracy? Kids Born Rich Have Better Success Than Those Born Smart

Who needs to be smart when you can have money instead?

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a study that explored what types of kids go on to be successful later in life. Of particular interest to the researchers were kids who worn born into economically advantaged families that showed low levels of intelligence vs. the high performing students from the nation’s poorer families.

Wouldn’t you know it – it’s the lower IQ kids born into privilege that ultimately go on to find success as adults at much higher rates than the poor but smart kids. That’s not how a country that’s purportedly a meritocracy is supposed to work, but here we are.

Here’s how the analysis was conducted: Researchers looked at kindergarteners from families earning in the bottom 25 percent of the country but scored in the top 25 percent on tests measuring early academic talent, as well kindergarteners from families earning in the top 25 percent with test scores putting them in the bottom 25 percent of academic talent.

From there, they tracked people in these two groups into adulthood to determine things like graduation rates and salaries. Overall, the smart, low-income kids had just a 31 percent of finishing college and making at least $45,000 by age 35. Meanwhile, the less intelligent, rich kids accomplished those milestones at a rate of 71 percent, which is more than twice as high. Talk about failing upward.

Even for the poorer kids who beat the odds and got through college, their odds of making a good salary are significantly less than the kids from privilege: 76 percent compared to 91 percent.

“People tend to blame the schools, and they are at fault for not saving people who start out smart,” said lead researcher Anthony Carnevale. “But there are also a variety of factors that have to do with race and class and gender and everything from books in the home to how many words you know when you’re in the first grade, too. Disadvantage and advantage are very complex.”

Opportunities just aren’t there for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. College is expensive anywhere, and getting into the best ones often requires money and connections. So many of the cushy, white collar jobs that people get out of school also come down to who you or your parents know.

The first question most people see after seeing a study like this is probably, “Okay, how do we fix this?” I’d argue that the more important question is, “Do the powers that be even want to fix this?” We live in an oligarchy where the rich succeed and those at the bottom are kept down via various means. The study’s findings are the natural outcome of a society that favors wealth rather than talent, intelligence and potential.

48 comments

Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer5 days ago

Very, very interesting.

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Hannah A
Hannah A6 days ago

tyfs

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Roger B
Richard B7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Alea C
Alea C9 days ago

I miss my daily causes newsletter. I wish Care2 would fix their site and start posting new ones.

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Alea C
Alea C9 days ago

I'd rather be rich than smart. Being smart doesn't pay my mortgage in this economy but being rich sure would.

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Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley14 days ago

Thank you.

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hELEN h
hELEN h14 days ago

tyfs

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Ben O
Ben O14 days ago

: ~ (

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