Genetic variants identified by three large genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of educational attainment (EA) were used to test a polygenic selection model. Weighted and unweighted polygenic scores (PGS) were calculated and compared across populations using data from the 1000 Genomes (n = 26), HGDP-CEPH (n = 52) and gnomAD (n = 8) datasets. The PGS from the largest EA GWAS was highly correlated to two previously published PGSs (r = 0.96–0.97, N = 26). These factors are both highly predictive of average population IQ (r = 0.9, N = 23) and Learning index (r = 0.8, N = 22) and are robust to tests of spatial autocorrelation. Monte Carlo simulations yielded highly significant p values. In the gnomAD samples, the correlation between PGS and IQ was almost perfect (r = 0.98, N = 8), and ANOVA showed significant population differences in allele frequencies with positive effect. Socioeconomic variables slightly improved the prediction accuracy of the model (from 78–80% to 85–89%), but the PGS explained twice as much of the variance in IQ compared to socioeconomic variables. In both 1000 Genomes and gnomAD, there was a weak trend for lower GWAS significance SNPs to be less predictive of population IQ. Additionally, a subset of SNPs were found in the HGDP-CEPH sample (N = 127). The analysis of this sample yielded a positive correlation with latitude and a low negative correlation with distance from East Africa. This study provides robust results after accounting for spatial autocorrelation with Fst distances and random noise via an empirical Monte Carlo simulation using null SNPs.
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