The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills
AbstractHow schooling affects cognitive skills is a fundamental question for studies of human capital and labor markets. While scores on cognitive ability tests are positively associated with schooling, it has proven difficult to ascertain whether this relationship is causal. Moreover, the effect of schooling is difficult to separate from the confounding factors of age at test date, relative age within a classroom, season of birth, and cohort effects. In this paper, we exploit conditionally random variation in the assigned test date for a battery of cognitive tests which almost all 18 year-old males were required to take in preparation for military service in Sweden. Both age at test date and number of days spent in school vary randomly across individuals after flexibly controlling for date of birth, parish, and expected graduation date (the three variables the military conditioned on when assigning test date). We find an extra 10 days of school instruction raises cognitive scores on crystallized intelligence tests (synonym and technical comprehension tests) by approximately one percent of a standard deviation, whereas extra nonschool days have almost no effect. The benefit of additional school days is homogeneous, with similar effect sizes based on past grades in school, parental education, and father's earnings. In contrast, test scores on fluid intelligence tests (spatial and logic tests) do not increase with additional days of schooling, but do increase modestly with age. These findings have important implications for questions about the malleability of cognitive skills in young adults, schooling models of signaling versus human capital, the interpretation of test scores in wage regressions, and policies related to the length of the school year.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18484.
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Note: CH ED LS PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-10-27 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2012-10-27 (Education)
- NEP-URE-2012-10-27 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kasey Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2008.
"Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers,"
NBER Working Papers
14573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2013. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 711-724, July.
- Carlos Dobkin & Fernando Ferreira, 2009.
"Do School Entry Laws Affect Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes?,"
NBER Working Papers
14945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dobkin, Carlos & Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "Do school entry laws affect educational attainment and labor market outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 40-54, February.
- Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011.
"The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-95, February.
- Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2006. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," NBER Working Papers 12329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Cawley, John & Heckman, James & Vytlacil, Edward, 2001. "Three observations on wages and measured cognitive ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-442, September.
- Michael Fertig & Jochen Kluve, 2005.
"The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment in Germany,"
RWI Discussion Papers
0027, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung.
- Fertig, Michael & Kluve, Jochen, 2005. "The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Elizabeth Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2007. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," NBER Working Papers 13663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.