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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
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  4. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
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  9. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
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  13. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2008. "The role of cognitive skills in economic development," Munich Reprints in Economics 20454, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Rosa L. Matzkin, 1999. "Nonparametric Estimation of Nonadditive Random Functions," Working Papers 38, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2001.
  15. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
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  17. 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.
  18. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten & Heckman, James, 2003. "Estimating distributions of treatment effects with an application to the returns to schooling and measurement of the effects of uncertainty on college choice," Working Paper Series 2003:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
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  20. Serge Darolles & Jean-Pierre Florens & Yanqin Fan & Eric Renault, 2011. "Nonparametric Instrumental Regression," Working Papers 245432, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  21. Matzkin, Rosa L., 2007. "Nonparametric identification," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 73 Elsevier.
  22. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Geweke, John, 1989. "Bayesian Inference in Econometric Models Using Monte Carlo Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1317-39, November.
  24. 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.
  25. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  26. Yingyao Hu & Susanne M. Schennach, 2008. "Instrumental Variable Treatment of Nonclassical Measurement Error Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 195-216, 01.
  27. 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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  29. Cawley, John & Heckman, James & Vytlacil, Edward, 2001. "Three observations on wages and measured cognitive ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-442, September.
  30. 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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