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How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills

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  • Hille, Adrian
  • Schupp, Jürgen

Abstract

Previous research does not teach us much about the role of music for skill development. Learning a musical instrument during childhood may affect educational opportunities by improving cognitive skills, teaching non-cognitive skills or sending positive signals to school teachers. Our study is the first to examine these channels with data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). In addition to assessing the duration and intensity of music practice during childhood, the SOEP contains detailed information on parents, which may determine both the decision to follow music lessons and educational outcomes: socio-economic background, personality, involvement in the child's school success and taste for the arts. Using regression-adjusted propensity score matching, we test to which extent these characteristics explain outcome differences between children who have learned a musical instrument for at least 9 years and those who did not. Even after including all of the control variables, cognitive skills of adolescents who followed music lessons during childhood are 0.27 standard deviations above those of their peers. Moreover, these children have better school marks and are more conscientious, agreeable and ambitious. Some of the outcome differences are even larger among children who come from families with lower socio-economic status. The causal effect of learning a musical instrument might be smaller than our estimates due to the potential influence of unobserved characteristics. However, we argue that our strict choice of treatment and control variables may actually lead us to underestimate the true causal effect of learning a musical instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • Hille, Adrian & Schupp, Jürgen, 2013. "How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79801, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79801
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    Cited by:

    1. Charlotte Cabane & Adrian Hille & Michael Lechner, 2015. "Mozart or Pelé? The Effects of Teenagers' Participation in Music and Sports," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 749, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Lechner, Michael, 2016. "Empirical Evidence on Educational Effects of Physical Activity: Four Examples," Economics Working Paper Series 1619, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. repec:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1119-z is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Anna Makles & Kerstin Schneider, 2017. "Extracurricular educational programs and school readiness: evidence from a quasi-experiment with preschool children," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 52(4), pages 1181-1204, June.
    5. Adrian Hille, 2015. "How a Universal Music Education Program Affects Time Use, Behavior, and School Attitude," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 810, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Lars Thiel, 2015. "Leave the Drama on the Stage: The Effect of Cultural Participation on Health," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 767, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Berlingieri, Francesco & Zierahn, Ulrich, 2014. "Field of study, qualification mismatch, and wages: Does sorting matter?," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-076, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    8. Peter Funk & Thorsten Kemper, 2016. "Leisure and Learning - Activities and Their Effects on Child Skill Development," Working Paper Series in Economics 85, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    9. Philip Yang, 2015. "The impact of music on educational attainment," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 39(4), pages 369-396, November.
    10. Cabane, Charlotte & Hille, Adrian & Lechner, Michael, 2016. "Mozart or Pelé? The effects of adolescents' participation in music and sports," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 90-103.

    More about this item

    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
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature

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