The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills
2013 (English)Report (Other academic)
How schooling aﬀects cognitive skills is a fundamental question forstudies of human capital and labor markets. While scores on cognitive ability testsare positively associated with schooling, it has proven diﬃcult to ascertain whetherthis relationship is causal. Moreover, the eﬀect of schooling is diﬃcult to separatefrom the confounding factors of age at test date, relative age within a classroom,season of birth, and cohort eﬀects. In this paper, we use a fundamentally diﬀerentidentiﬁcation approach compared to the previous literature. We exploit conditionallyrandom variation in the assigned test date for a battery of cognitive tests whichalmost all 18 year-old males were required to take in preparation for military servicein Sweden. Both age at test date and number of days spent in school vary randomlyacross individuals after ﬂexibly controlling for date of birth, parish, and expectedgraduation date (the three variables the military conditioned on when assigningtest date). We ﬁnd an extra 10 days of school instruction raises cognitive scoreson crystallized intelligence tests (synonym and technical comprehension tests) byapproximately one percent of a standard deviation, whereas extra nonschool dayshave almost no eﬀect. The beneﬁt of additional school days is homogeneous, withsimilar eﬀect sizes based on past grades in school, parental education, and father’searnings. In contrast, test scores on ﬂuid intelligence tests (spatial and logic tests)do not increase with additional days of schooling, but do increase modestly with age.We discuss the importance of these ﬁndings for questions about the malleability ofcognitive skills in young adults, schooling models of signaling versus human capital,the interpretation of test scores in wage regressions, and policies related to the lengthof the school year
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linnéuniversitetet , 2013. , 41 p.
Working paper series / Linnaeus University Centre for Labour Market and Discrimination Studies, 2013:4
Research subject Economy, Economics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-31019OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-31019DiVA: diva2:676804