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The Effect Of Education On Cognitive Ability

  • TORBERG FALCH
  • SOFIA SANDGREN MASSIH

We analyze whether the amount of schooling influences intelligence as measured by IQ tests. By use of a novel longitudinal dataset we are able to condition on early cognitive ability to account for selection into non-compulsory schooling when estimating the effect on cognitive ability at age 20. OLS estimates indicate that one year of schooling increases IQ by 2.8-3.5 points (about 0.2 standard deviations). When family income per family member and teacher evaluations of the individuals at age 10 are used as instruments for schooling and early cognitive ability, the return to schooling is estimated to 3.5-3.8 IQ points.

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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 49 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (07)
Pages: 838-856

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:49:y:2011:i:3:p:838-856
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  1. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer learning and statistical discrimination," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
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  9. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen & Wachter, Till von, 2005. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," IZA Discussion Papers 1645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  11. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
  12. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  13. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  14. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  15. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
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