Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy
AbstractThis paper presents new evidence from the NLSY on the importance of meritocracy in American society. In it, we find that general intelligence, or g -- a measure of cognitive ability--is dominant in explaining test score variance. The weights assigned to tests by g are similar for all major demographic groups. These results support Spearman's theory of g. We also find that g and other measures of ability are not rewarded equally across race and gender, evidence against the view that the labor market is organized on meritocratic principles. Additional factors beyond g are required to explain wages and occupational choice. However, both blue collar and white collar wages are poorly predicted by g or even multiple measures of ability. Observed cognitive ability is only a minor predictor of social performance. White collar wages are more g loaded than blue collar wages. Many noncognitive factors determine blue collar wages.
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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5645.
Date of creation: Jul 1996
Date of revision:
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
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
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.:
- Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
- Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
- Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310.
- Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995.
"The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
- Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- McKinley L. Blackburn & David Neumark, 1991.
"Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling,"
NBER Working Papers
3693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
- Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
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.