a1 Tel Aviv University, Israel
a2 University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland
A number of studies have found that Ashkenazi Jews in the United States have a high average IQ. It has been proposed by Cochran, Hardy and Harpending (2006) that this can be explained by the occupational constraints imposed on the Ashkenazi for many centuries in Europe, when they were largely confined to money-lending. They propose that this selected for the high verbal and mathematical intelligence that has several times been found in American Ashkenazim. The current study investigates how far this theory holds for European and Oriental Jews in Israel. A review of studies shows that Oriental Jews in Israel have an average IQ 14 points lower than that of European (largely Ashkenazi) Jews. It is proposed that this difference can be explained in terms of the Cochran, Hardy and Harpending theory because Oriental Jews were permitted to engage in a much wider range of occupations and hence did not come under the selection pressure to develop the high verbal and mathematical intelligence that was present for Ashkenazim.