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Like Brother, Like Sister? The Importance of Family Background for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

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  • Anger, Silke
  • Schnitzlein, Daniel D.

Abstract

This paper estimates sibling correlations in cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills to evaluate the importance of family background for skill formation. The study is based on a large representative German dataset, which includes IQ test scores and measures of personality (locus of control, reciprocity, Big Five) for brothers and sisters. Using a Restricted Maximum Likelihood (REML) model we find substantial influences of family background on the skills of both brothers and sisters. Sibling correlations of personality traits range from 0.24 to 0.59, indicating that even for the lowest estimate, one fourth of the variance can be attributed to factors shared by siblings. With one exception, all calculated sibling correlations in cognitive skills are higher than 0.50, indicating that more than half of the inequality can be explained by family characteristics. Comparing these findings to the results in the intergenerational skill transmission literature suggests that intergenerational correlations are only able to capture parts of the influence of the family on children s cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This result is in line with findings in the literature on educational and income mobility. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order with number 80052.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:80052

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Web page: http://www.socialpolitik.org/
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  1. Heineck, Guido & Anger, Silke, 2010. "The Returns to Cognitive Abilities and Personality Traits in Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 535-546.
  2. Silke Anger & Guido Heineck, 2010. "Do smart parents raise smart children? The intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 1105-1132, June.
  3. Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & GRoger Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1991. "A Longitudinal Analysis of Sibling Correlations in Economic Status," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(3), pages 509-534.
  4. Sarah Brown & Steve McIntosh & Karl Taylor, 2007. "Following in your parents' footsteps? Empirical Analysis of Matched Parent-Offspring Test Scores," Working Papers 2007017, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2007.
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  6. Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor & Jäntti, Markus & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Österbacka, Eva, 2000. "Brother Correlations in Earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden Compared to the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 158, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Agee, Mark D & Crocker, Thomas D, 2002. "Parents' Discount Rate and the Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Skills," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(273), pages 143-54, February.
  8. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Schurer, Stefanie, 2011. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Working Paper Series 1834, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
  9. Björklund Anders & Lindahl Lena & Lindquist Matthew J., 2010. "What More Than Parental Income, Education and Occupation? An Exploration of What Swedish Siblings Get from Their Parents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-40, November.
  10. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  11. Grönqvist, Erik & Öckert, Björn & Vlachos, Jonas, 2010. "The intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities," Working Paper Series 2010:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  12. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2008. "Like Father, Like Son? A Note on the Intergenerational Transmission of IQ Scores," NBER Working Papers 14274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Susan E. Mayer & Greg Duncan & Ariel Kalil, 2004. "Like Mother, Like Daughter? SES and the Intergenerational correlation of Traits, Behaviors and Attitudes," Working Papers 0415, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  14. 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.
  15. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.
  16. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Sibling similarities and economic inequality in the US," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 685-701, July.
  17. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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