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Belief in a Just World and Children's Cognitive Scores

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  • Angus Armstrong

Abstract

Parental beliefs are recognised by psychologists as an important causal influence on child development. A two-period model of human capital accumulation in the framework of Becker and Tomes (1986) is presented. In the first period parents transfer their beliefs, distinct from genes, to children by signalling their ‘belief in a just world’ or their perceived return to effort. Children respond by choosing effort, irrespective of the real world returns, which combines with their genes to create early ability. This determines the rate of return to second-period investment and final attainment. If parents are credit constrained, both beliefs and income determine attainment. Empirical analysis using the second generation of the NCDS shows that beliefs are a strong predictor of early attainment and significantly reduce the importance of parental income. The identifying assumption is that parent beliefs are slow-moving and not conditioned on the child.

Suggested Citation

  • Angus Armstrong, 2012. "Belief in a Just World and Children's Cognitive Scores," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 222(1), pages 7-19, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:222:y:2012:i:1:p:r7-r19
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    Cited by:

    1. Wouter Zwysen, 2015. "The effects of father’s worklessness on young adults in the UK," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, December.
    2. Jaimee Stuart & Gail Pacheco & Mary Hedges & Susan Morton, 2013. "Monkey see, monkey do? How do shifts in parental socio-economic class influence children's outcomes?," Working Papers 2013-07, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    3. Gurleen Popli & Aki Tsuchiya, 2014. "Sons and Daughters: Parental Beliefs and Child Behaviour (Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study)," Working Papers 2014013, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    4. Zwysen, Wouter, 2013. "Where you go depends on where you come from: the influence of father’s employment status on young adult’s labour market experiences," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Family culture; beliefs; child development; credit constraints;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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