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Like Father, Like Son? A Note on the Intergenerational Transmission of IQ Scores

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Author Info

  • Black, Sandra E.

    ()
    (University of Texas at Austin)

  • Devereux, Paul J.

    ()
    (University College Dublin)

  • Salvanes, Kjell G.

    ()
    (Norwegian School of Economics)

Abstract

More able parents tend to have more able children. While few would question the validity of this statement, there is little large-scale evidence on the intergenerational transmission of IQ scores. Using a larger and more comprehensive dataset than previous work, we are able to estimate the intergenerational correlation in IQ scores, examining not just average correlations but also how this relationship varies for different subpopulations. We find that there is substantial intergenerational transmission of IQ scores; an increase in father’s IQ at age 18 of 10% is associated with a 3.2% increase in son’s IQ at the same age. This relationship holds true no matter how we break the data. This effect is much larger than our estimated elasticity of intergenerational transmission of income of approximately .2.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3651.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics Letters, 2009, 105 (1), 138-140
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3651

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Keywords: intergenerational mobility; ability;

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  2. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  3. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2007. "Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men," CEPR Discussion Papers 6443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  6. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
  7. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  8. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2007. "Older and Wiser? Birth Order and IQ of Young Men," IZA Discussion Papers 3007, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Espen Bratberg & Oivind Anti Nilsen & Kjell Vaage, 2005. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in Norway: Levels and Trends," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(3), pages 419-435, 09.
  10. Lindahl, Lena, 2002. "Do birth order and family size matter for intergenerational income mobility? Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 5/2002, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  11. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700, May.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  13. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
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