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The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities

By Erik Grönqvist, Jonas Vlachos and Björn Öckert


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.Intergenerational Ability Correlations; Cognitive Ability; Non-Cognitive Ability; Measurement Error Bias

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