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Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation

  • Susanne Schennach

    (University of Chicago)

  • James Heckman

    (University of Chicago)

  • Flavio Cunha

    (University of Chicago)

This paper formulates and estimates a model of the evolution of child cognitive and noncognitive skills as determined by parental investments at different stages of the life cycle. We estimate the elasticity of substitution between contemporaneous investments and inherited stocks of skills to assess the benefits of early investment in children compared to later investment. We develop a nonlinear factor analysis and use it to establish nonparametric identification of the technology of skill formation. A by-product of our approach is a framework for the evaluation of childhood interventions that avoids reliance on arbitrarily scaled test scores. Since any monotonic transformation of a test score is also a valid test score, "value added" analyses of test scores have no clear interpretation. We develop a general nonparametric solution to this problem by anchoring test scores and other outcome measures in adult outcomes with interpretable scales.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 973.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:973
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
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  6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2550, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. Schennach, Susanne M., 2004. "Nonparametric Regression In The Presence Of Measurement Error," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(06), pages 1046-1093, December.
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  18. 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.
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  22. Rosa L. Matzkin, 1999. "Nonparametric Estimation of Nonadditive Random Functions," Working Papers 38, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2001.
  23. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Susanne Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 15664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Watson, Mark W. & Engle, Robert F., 1983. "Alternative algorithms for the estimation of dynamic factor, mimic and varying coefficient regression models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 385-400, December.
  25. Yingyao Hu & Susanne Schennach, 2006. "Identification and estimation of nonclassical nonlinear errors-in-variables models with continuous distributions using instruments," CeMMAP working papers CWP17/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  26. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1999. "On Policies To Reward The Value Added By Educators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 720-727, November.
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  28. Yingyao Hu & Susanne M. Schennach, 2008. "Instrumental Variable Treatment of Nonclassical Measurement Error Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 195-216, 01.
  29. Geweke, John, 1989. "Bayesian Inference in Econometric Models Using Monte Carlo Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1317-39, November.
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