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The effect of the intergenerational transmission of noncognitive skills on student performance

Economics of Education Review Volume 46, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We analyze whether country differences in the noncognitive skills or qualities that children are encouraged to learn at home, i.e. differences in culture, account for country differences in student performance. We do so by comparing PISA language, mathematics and science scores of second-generation immigrants of different origins living in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. We use the valuation of different child qualities in the student’s country of ancestry by mid 1980s to approximate students’ cultural heritage. Our estimates suggest that culture plays a prominent role in explaining variation in 15-years-old scholastic performance. A one-standard-deviation increase in our cultural variable accounts to between 10% and 30% of the standard deviation of student performance across ancestries depending on the host country considered. We find that the intergenerational transmission of some child qualities positively related to the conscientiousness personality factor like hard work, responsibility, perseverance and thrift favors the acquisition of cognition as measured by achievement test. A similar result is obtained for the child qualities independence and imagination.


Mendez, I. (2015). The effect of the intergenerational transmission of noncognitive skills on student performance. Economics of Education Review, 46(1), 78-97. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved November 26, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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