Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 884: The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities

Erik Grönqvist (), Jonas Vlachos () and Björn Öckert ()
Additional contact information
Erik Grönqvist: Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU), Postal: and Department of Economics, Uppsala University
Jonas Vlachos: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Stockholm University, Department of Economics, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Björn Öckert: Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU), Postal: and Department of Economics, Uppsala University

Abstract: We study the intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities between fathers and sons using population-wide enlistment data. Measurement error bias in fathers’ ability measures is corrected for using two sets of instruments. Results suggest that previous estimates of intergenerational ability correlations are biased downwards; once corrected for, the non-cognitive correlation is close to that of cognitive ability. We also predict mothers’ abilities and 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 strongly related to both parents’ cognitive and non-cognitive abilities.

Keywords: Intergenerational Ability Correlations; Cognitive Ability; Non-Cognitive Ability; Measurement Error Bias

JEL-codes: I00; J13; J24

30 pages, October 4, 2011

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