Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy
This paper presents new evidence from the NLSY on the importance of meritocracy in American society. In it, we find that general intelligence, or g -- a measure of cognitive ability--is dominant in explaining test score variance. The weights assigned to tests by g are similar for all major demographic groups. These results support Spearman's theory of g. We also find that g and other measures of ability are not rewarded equally across race and gender, evidence against the view that the labor market is organized on meritocratic principles. Additional factors beyond g are required to explain wages and occupational choice. However, both blue collar and white collar wages are poorly predicted by g or even multiple measures of ability. Observed cognitive ability is only a minor predictor of social performance. White collar wages are more g loaded than blue collar wages. Many noncognitive factors determine blue collar wages.
|Date of creation:||Jul 1996|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Cawley, John, Karen Conneely, James Heckman, and Edward Vytlacil. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy." In Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to The Bell Curve, edited by Bernie Devlin, Stephen Fienberg, Daniel Resnick, and Kathryn Roeder. (Springer Verlag: New York), 1997.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
- Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995.
"The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
- Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310.
- Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
- Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
- 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.
- Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5645. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.