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Lessons from the Bell Curve


  • Heckman, James J


This paper examines the argument presented in The Bell Curve. A central argument is that one factor--g--accounts for correlation across test scores and performance in society. Another central argument is that g cannot be manipulated. These arguments are combined to claim that social policies designed to improve social performance cannot be effective. A reanalysis of the evidence contradicts this story. The factors that explain wages receive different weights than the factors that explain test scores. More than g is required to explain either. Other factors besides g contribute to social performance and they can be manipulated. Copyright 1995 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:103:y:1995:i:5:p:1091-1120
    DOI: 10.1086/262014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Y. C. Cotton, 1986. "War and American Democracy," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 30(4), pages 616-635, December.
    2. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Wilcox, Linda, 1986. "Rural Labor in Latin America," CUDARE Working Papers 198301, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    3. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    4. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:246996 is not listed on IDEAS
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