The Extreme Shortage of High IQ Workers

Alex Tabarrok:

At first glance it seems peculiar that semiconductors, a key item of national strategic interest, should be produced in only a few places in the world, most notably Taiwan, using devices produced only in Eindhoven in the Netherlands by one firm, ASML. Isn’t the United States big enough to be able to support all of these technologies domestically? Yes and no.

Semiconductor manufacturing is the most difficult and complicated manufacturing process ever attempted by human beings. A literal spec of dust can ruin an entire production run. How many people can run such a factory? Let’s look at the United States. The labor force is approximately 164 million people which sounds like a lot but half of the people in the labor force have IQs below 100. More specifically, although not everyone in semiconductor manufacturing requires a PhD, pretty much everyone has to be of above average intelligence and many will need to be in the top echelons of IQ.