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IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?

Anders Bjorklund (), Karin Hederos Eriksson () and Markus Jantti

No 4305, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: For the purpose of understanding the underlying mechanisms behind intergenerational associations in income and education, recent studies have explored the intergenerational transmission of abilities. We use a large representative sample of Swedish men to examine both intergenerational and sibling correlations in IQ. Since siblings share both parental factors and neighbourhood influences, the sibling correlation is a broader measure of the importance of family background than the intergenerational correlation. We use IQ data from the Swedish military enlistment tests. The correlation in IQ between fathers (born 1951-1956) and sons (born 1966-1980) is estimated to 0.347. The corresponding estimate for brothers (born 1951-1968) is 0.473, suggesting that family background explains approximately 50% of a person's IQ. Estimating sibling correlations in IQ we thus find that family background has a substantially larger impact on IQ than has been indicated by previous studies examining only intergenerational correlations in IQ.

Keywords: intergenerational mobility; family background; ability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J0 I0 J1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-neu
Date: 2009-07
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Published in: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy: Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 2010, 10 (1), Article 2

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