The secular trend of intelligence test scores in the present century: The Danish experience

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The present register-based study investigated the secular trend of intelligence test scores during the period from 2006 through 2019 in a Danish population-representative sample, as well as whether the observed trend could be explained by changes in parental age, dysgenics, and immigration or changes in the format of the intelligence test and sample characteristics. The study population consisted of all Danish men appearing before a draft board during the study period (N = 400,288). Intelligence test scores were obtained by the use of Børge Priens Prøve, typically at age 19. For each of the included draft board cohorts, the intelligence test score mean and standard deviation were estimated. The results showed that changes in mean intelligence test scores were minimal during the study period. A slight decline was observed from 2006 to 2010. Furthermore, there was a drop of 1.5 IQ points from 2010 to 2011, which coincided with the change in the format of the intelligence test from paper-and-pencil to computer-based, but there was essentially no change after 2011. Neither changes in parental age, dysgenics, or immigration seem to have influenced the observations. However, changes in sample composition may conceal a true decline in intelligence test scores given that a larger proportion of individuals with low intelligence seems to be exempted from testing. In conclusion, the study findings suggest no systematic change in intelligence test scores during the last decade, but due to changes in sample composition, it cannot be excluded that there has been a negative secular trend.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101525
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 255554503