The U.S. States With the Lowest IQs

By: James Dorman | Published: Jun 23, 2024

IQ is a way to test and measure the intelligence of an individual. Gather enough IQ data, and you can get a value for the IQ of a whole community — like an entire state, say.

If we compare the IQ scores of one state against the other, we can rank different states to see who has the highest and lowest IQ. If you’re curious to see where your state ranks, then read on.

What Is the IQ Test?

Before seeing where your state ranks, it’s useful to understand more about what IQ is. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a measurement of people’s ability to reason and problem-solve. By completing an IQ test you get a score for your mental abilities that can be compared against others.

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Opinions are divided on how valid it is to measure a person’s intelligence based on one test like this, but it’s a useful way to make overall comparisons. 

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Average IQs

To provide a bit of context as we go state-by-state, it’s important to have an average overall figure to compare against.

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The average IQ for an individual falls between 85 and 115, while the global average IQ is 82. The average IQ for the U.S. is 97.43, ranking it 28th in the world.

California

We’ll start with a somewhat surprising entry, California. Despite being the home of Silicon Valley and a breeding ground for innovative tech geniuses, California has one of the lowest IQs in the country. 

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The state ranks 45th in terms of average intelligence by state. The average IQ of people living in California is 97.1, just below the national average.

Alabama

Even lower in the rankings is Alabama, with an average IQ of 96.4. There are only three states with a lower average IQ.

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The low ranking might be linked to the state’s performance in terms of education. Alabama ranks 45th for education, with only 37.8% of the state’s population being college-educated.

South Carolina

With an average IQ of 97.8, South Carolina ranks as the 41st most intelligent U.S. state.

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Ranking 43rd for higher education and 41st for Pre-K-12, it’s also among the lowest educated states. There may again be a correlation between schooling in the state and average IQ. South Carolina also ranks low in terms of economic opportunity.

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Texas

Staying away from the very bottom of the rankings for a while, we come to Texas at #42. Though the largest state, they don’t necessarily have the highest IQ. An average of 97.4 puts them pretty much on the average for the country.

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Interestingly, their overall education ranking is a lot better than their IQ ranking, coming in at number 29.

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Nevada

Nevada fares a little bit worse with an average IQ of 96.6. This puts them four places below Texas in the rankings at 46.

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With a healthy gambling industry giving Nevada the nation’s 5th best economy, one would have thought that maybe the mental stimulation of working out the odds on a roulette spin may have helped keep residents’ minds sharp and IQs up a little.

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Mississippi

Ranking 47th out of the 50 states with an average IQ of 95.8 is Mississippi.

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It would be facetious to say that with an IQ score like that, many in the state might struggle to spell “Mississippi,” but the state actually ranks a respectable 35th for education. Poor education doesn’t seem to be the reason for relatively low IQ scores in the home of the blues.

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Louisiana

Louisiana is second from the bottom in the rankings with an average IQ of just 95.2. Louisiana ranks pretty poorly across the board, coming in at number 47 for education, 49 for economy and dead last for crime and corrections in 50th place.

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With a rich history, musical heritage and tourism appeal, the state has a lot going for it. Let’s hope Louisiana can improve its rankings in the coming years.

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New Mexico

Propping up the bottom of the rankings is New Mexico with an average IQ of just 95. It’s another case of pretty low rankings all around for the state, with the 45th best economy, ranking 48th in crime and corrections and being the very bottom state for education.

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If there is a correlation between the quality of education in a state and the average IQ of its population, then New Mexico would be the prime example ranking dead last in both.

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IQs Across America

Even in the lowest-performing states, the average is still above the global average and not far from the national average. But there are some big disparities, particularly when we look at some of the states toward the top of the board.

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The average IQ for New Hampshire, the #1 ranked state, is 103.2. It would be interesting to look in detail at the reasons for these differences. Is it simply down to access to education and education funding, or is it more complex than that?

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