You’re right: those who get paid the most aren’t the smartest, new study finds


A recent Swedish study, published in the European Sociological Review in January, concluded that higher general intelligence is associated with higher wages, though only up to a threshold of about 600,000 Swedish kronor ($57,300) a year. After that point, the research found that cognitive ability levels off as wages continue to increase, with the top 1% of earners actually scoring slightly worse than those in the income bracket below them. This suggests that factors such as family ties or luck have a greater influence on achieving high-paying positions than intelligence does. Unfortunately, the study did not take into account other skills and qualities which can lead to success, such as motivation or social skills, and was only conducted with Swedish-born men due to the mandatory military service. The researchers believe that the results of their study could be even more pronounced in countries with wider income gaps, such as the United States or Singapore. As such, they argue that it is important to ensure that the right people are in positions of power, as their decisions can have a significant impact on society.

Over the last few months, there's been a steady stream of large, high-profile layoffs — while unemployment claims remain at rock-bottom levels.

The apparent discrepancy is stark enough that some folks have started asking if generous severance packages are keeping this key measure of the labor market artificially low. JPMorgan analysts decided to tackle the question.

The analysts estimate that severance payments tied to layoffs — which are typically part of the kind of downsizings seen recently at tech firms like GoogleAmazonMeta, and Microsoft — could have translated into roughly 50,000 fewer applications for unemployment benefits in recent weeks.

"While rules vary by state, severance generally would either delay or reduce one’s eligibility for unemployment insurance, so people who were laid off and have been receiving severance may not have filed for unemployment insurance yet," JPMorgan economists wrote.

  • Even if jobless claims were 50,000 higher, the data would still be consistent with a rip-roaring job market.

A rule of thumb says a level of 400,000 on jobless claims is a tipping point signaling a possible economic slowdown.

  • Even if it's undercounting the unemployed, the most recent weekly claims level (194,000), put together with a remarkably strong January jobs report, suggests the opposite.

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