This may surprise you, but there are some groups in Western societies that are experiencing what we might call “eugenic fertility.” This means that, among these groups, there is positive selection for intelligence: the more intelligent are actually having more children than are the less intelligent. Two examples: Mormons and Norwegian males.
A well-known example: this is Mormon politician Mitt Romney’s family in 2011:
I know I have written a great deal on the opposite situation: dysgenic fertility, most recently in my new book Breeding the Human Herd: Eugenics, Dysgenics and the Future of the Species. It is certainly true that there is a weak negative association, of about minus 0.2, between fertility (how many offspring you have) and intelligence among Western females. And it’s roughly minus 0.1 or even less among Western males. This is important, because the heritability of intelligence among adults is about 0.8. (It’s lower in children because the child’s parents create its environment, but as it gets older, it creates its own environment—in terms of intellectual stimulation, for example—more consistent with its own innate intelligence).
Furthermore, as I discussed in my book, alleles associated with high intelligence are decreasing in prevalence across generations among native Western populations. And we are breeding for the many health conditions which genetically correlate with low IQ, due to traits which are adaptive becoming bundled together over time.
This is the “dysgenic” picture based on large countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K., or based on meta-analyses of many countries.
The “eugenics,” however, is in the details.
Firstly, people who are conservative and who adhere to traditional religiosity, generally marked by the collective worship of a moral god, display a rather different pattern. My colleague J.O.A. Rayner-Hilles and I have demonstrated this by analyzing the U.S. General Social Survey in our book The Past Is a Future Country: The Coming Conservative Demographic Revolution.
There is an extent to which “conservatives” and “liberals” are genetic castes. The heritability of political viewpoint may be as high as 0.6, while the heritability of fundamentalist religiosity may be as high as 0.7. Consistent with this, the retention rate in fundamentalist Christian groups is about 80%.
In other words, a significant component of whether or not you are a “liberal” and an “atheist” or “conservative” and a “believer” relates to genetics.
A clear mediating factor seems to be suffering from depression. Liberals and atheists are typically more depressed [see Mental Illness and the Left, by Emil Kirkegaard, Mankind Quarterly, 2020], with religious people being lower in the genes that predict this [The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God,” by Edward Dutton et al., Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2018].
We found in The Past Is a Future Country that, if you just look at people with higher intelligence, then the big predictor of lower fertility is liberalism and atheism, while the big predictor of higher fertility is conservatism and conservative religiosity. This means that we are gradually getting less intelligent, but that liberals are getting less intelligent more quickly.
Danish independent researcher Emil Kirkegaard and I have now looked into this finding on the GSS in more detail, using different statistical methods [Will Intelligent Latter-day Saints and Smart Conservatives Inherit the Earth?, by Emil Kirkegaard and Edward Dutton, Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2023]. We find, focusing on U.S. whites, that among conservatives, and conservative religious groups, selection against intelligence is weaker than among liberals or among members of liberal religious groups. (However, conservatives are still in dysgenic fertility.)
But one group stands out as different. Among the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—the Mormons—there is positive selection for intelligence: Clever Mormons have more children than do dull Mormons.
Why is this the case? As we discuss in the study, if we assume that Mormons are highly pro-social and community-oriented people, they will have a strong desire not be a burden on their community. This will result in those who have fewer resources, probably partly mediated by lower IQ, deliberately limiting their fertility.
On the other hand, Mormons are strongly pro-natalist, regarding each child as a “blessing,” as a “gift from Heavenly Father.” Intelligence predicts social conformity. It predicts better understanding the “norms” of your society, better comprehending the social benefits of adopting them, having the effortful control to force yourself to adopt them, and then competitively signaling your adherence to them [see Beyond the Cultural Mediation Hypothesis: A reply to Dutton (2013), by Michael Woodley of Menie and Curtis Dunkel, Intelligence, 2015].
Having lots of children, for Mormons, can, therefore, become a means of competitively “faith-signaling”: God has blessed you with a “quiverful,” due to your fervent faith in Him, and you are so sure God will look after you that you are prepared to risk the financial burden of a huge family.
However, the Mormons are not the only group of which new studies find this is true. The other example: male—though not female—Norwegians.
A new study, Stability and change in male fertility patterns by cognitive ability across 32 birth cohorts, by Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg, Biology Letters, 2023, tracked the fertility of male Norwegians born between 1950 and 1981, based on public records, and looked at the relationship between this and their IQ score, which was obtained when they underwent their military service.
The findings were fascinating:
…high scoring males [had] delayed but ultimately higher fertility than lower scoring males. This pattern remains stable over time despite strong trends towards delayed and reduced fertility. The overall positive relationship between CA [cognitive ability] and fertility is primarily driven by high rates of childlessness in the lowest scoring group.
In other words, the relationship is driven by the failure of very low IQ Norwegian men to have any children at all.
So, what’s going on?
One possibility: as with the Mormons, Norwegians are a highly pro-social people. This would be consistent with their relative homogeneity and their small gene pool. Homogeneity and being genetically close predict pro-social behavior, as I explored in my 2019 book Race Differences in Ethnocentrism.
It would also be congruous with their evolution to a harsh yet stable ecology. This would select in favor of a relatively slow “Life History Strategy,” where you value nurture over copulation—as un-nurtured offspring will not survive—and you are selected, therefore, to be altruistic, empathetic and conscientious.
Accordingly, even relatively low IQ Norwegian males would be lower in psychopathic traits—in the propensity to “pump and dump”—than would be equivalent males in Britain, for example. Thus, they would avoid, much more strenuously, fathering children whom they could not afford. And this might be what we are also be seeing among white Mormons in the US.
Another possible explanation: the high levels of male alcoholism in Norway, a problem which tends to be associated with males of low socioeconomic status and, thus, low IQ, in part because low IQ predicts poor impulse control and, therefore, addiction [see Personality, by Daniel Nettle, 2007].
Norwegian males with very low IQ are the ones we would expect to become alcoholics, to the extent of being visually identifiable as such. Once this happens, they are repellent even to low-status women. They have, in effect, resigned from the gene pool.
However, the sex difference in alcohol consumption and related problems in Norway is very small compared to Finland, so such an explanation might make rather more sense in Finland rather than in Norway [Alcohol‐attributed disease burden in four Nordic countries between 2000 and 2017, by Emile Agardh et al., Drug and Alcohol Review, 2021].
Interestingly, as recently as the 1980s—when countries such as the U.K. were certainly in dysgenic fertility for both sexes—there was a positive association between education and fertility among Finnish males [Age-specific fertility by educational level in the Finnish male cohort born 1940‒1950, by Jessica Nissén et al., Demographic Research, 2014]. Finland is a similar kind of society to Norway—it is evolved to a similar ecology and it has a similar, indeed far more pronounced, problem with alcohol [see The Silent Rape Epidemic: How the Finns Were Groomed to Love Their Abusers, by Edward Dutton, 2019].
What these studies seem to be finding is that something about religiosity, or being from a pro-social, homogenous society, reduces or even reverses the negative relationship between intelligence and fertility.
Which is good to know, because that negative relationship will eventually bring down civilization—due to the clear relationship between national intelligence and all aspects of high culture.
This is an issue we really need to get to the bottom of—because time may be running out.
Edward Dutton (email him | Tweet him) is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Asbiro University, Łódź, Poland. You can see him on his Jolly Heretic video channels on YouTube and Bitchute. His books are available on his home page here.