Parenting practices, non-cognitive skills and academic success

Lara Tavares, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University

Economists have been using psychometric tests, like IQ tests, to obtain proxies of cognitive ability and analyse its effects on human capital but the role of non-cognitive ability is still less well understood. In this paper, we use insights from the Five-factor model of personality to construct a measure of non-cognitive ability labelled 'attitude towards learning' and analyse its role on children's educational achievement. This measure of non-cognitive ability is also shown to be linked to parental child-rearing practices and therefore thought to act as one of the transmission mechanisms of socio-economic status. In this paper, we model the direct effect of parenting practices on children's educational outcomes and also its indirect effect through the development of the children's own attitude towards learning. Our results show that 'attitude towards learning' has a strong and statistically significant association with educational attainment, and that what parents do matters.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility, family and children