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The Nurture Effects of Multidimensional Parental Skills on College Attainment

Jiaming Soh and Kegon Tan

No 2019-057, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: While many studies have shown that parental skills are important for child outcomes, whether this derives from non-genetic mechanisms is less clear. We investigate the nurture effects of parental cognitive and socio-emotional skills in producing college attainment of offspring, modeling socio-emotional skills as latent factors based on the Big Five taxonomy of personality. By studying a sample of adopted children whose parents are respondents of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we identify non-genetic effects of parental skills on college attainment. We address possible non-random adoption assignment by accounting for institutional policies regarding the adoption process and the compositional change of adoptees in Wisconsin during the period covered by our sample. We find that parental IQ and Openness act positively on child college attainment, while Agreeableness has a negative impact. A 1 s.d. difference in each of the skills translates to a 5-6 p.p. difference in college attainment, similar to the effect size of income. Finally we find that the nurture effects of IQ and Agreeableness are largely driven by fathers, whilst that of Openness is driven by mothers.

Keywords: human capital; intergenerational mobility; cognitive skills; non-cognitive skills; nurture (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I24 J24 J62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-neu
Note: MIP
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