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The intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities

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  • Grönqvist, Erik

    (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Öckert, Björn

    (FAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Vlachos, Jonas

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm University)

Abstract

We study the intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities between parents and sons using population-wide enlistment data. Conscripts are eva-luated at the same age and with comparable methods across cohorts, and we correct for measurement error bias in fathers’ ability measures by using their brothers’ abilities as instruments. The “uncle instrument” is supported by a host of validity tests. This strat-egy also enables us to predict mothers’ abilities. Our results suggest that previous esti-mates of intergenerational ability correlations are biased downwards; in particular for non-cognitive skills. When this bias is corrected for the non-cognitive correlation is close to that of cognitive abilities. Using predicted abilities, we further find the mother-son cognitive ability correlation to be stronger than the father-son correlation. Finally, educational attainment and labor market outcomes of both sons and daughters are found to be strongly related to both parents’ cognitive and non-cognitive abilities.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2010_012
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational ability correlations; cognitive ability; non-cognitive ability; measurement error bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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