nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2013‒10‒25
three papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Education and Health: The Role of Cognitive Ability By Bijwaard, Govert; van Kippersluis, Hans; Veenman, Justus
  2. How Learning a Musical Instrument Affects the Development of Skills By Hille, Adrian; Schupp, Jürgen
  3. Effects of early-life exposure to sanitation on childhood cognitive skills : evidence from India's total sanitation campaign By Spears, Dean; Lamba, Sneha

  1. By: Bijwaard, Govert (NIDI - Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute); van Kippersluis, Hans (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Veenman, Justus (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
    Abstract: We aim to disentangle the relative contributions of (i) cognitive ability, and (ii) education on health and mortality using a structural equation model suggested by Conti et al. (2010). We extend their model by allowing for a duration dependent variable, and an ordinal educational variable. Data come from a Dutch cohort born between 1937 and 1941, including detailed measures of cognitive ability and family background at age 12. The data are subsequently linked to the mortality register 1995-2011, such that we observe mortality between ages 55 and 75. The results suggest that at least half of the unconditional survival differences between educational groups are due to a 'selection effect', primarily on basis of cognitive ability. Conditional survival differences across those having finished just primary school and those entering secondary education are still substantial, and amount to a 4 years gain in life expectancy, on average.
    Keywords: education, cognitive ability, mortality, structural equation model, duration model
    JEL: C41 I14 I24
    Date: 2013–09
  2. By: Hille, Adrian (DIW Berlin); Schupp, Jürgen (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: Despite numerous studies on skill development, we know little about the causal effects of music training on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This study examines how long-term music training during childhood and youth affects the development of cognitive skills, school grades, personality, time use and ambition using representative data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our findings suggest that adolescents with music training have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious. These effects do not differ by socio-economic status. Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance. In order to address the non-random selection into music training, we take into account detailed information on parents, which may determine both the decision to pursue music lessons and educational outcomes: socio-economic background, personality, involvement with the child's school, and taste for the arts. In addition, we control for the predicted probability to give up music before age 17 as well as the adolescent's secondary school type. We provide evidence that our results are robust to both reverse causality and the existence of partly treated individuals in the control group.
    Keywords: music, cognitive and non-cognitive skills, educational achievement, SOEP
    JEL: I21 J24 Z11
    Date: 2013–09
  3. By: Spears, Dean; Lamba, Sneha
    Abstract: Early life health and net nutrition shape childhood and adult cognitive skills and human capital. In poor countries -- and especially in South Asia -- widespread open defecation without making use of a toilet or latrine is an important source of childhood disease. This paper studies the effects on childhood cognitive achievement of early life exposure to India's Total Sanitation Campaign, a large government program that encouraged local governments to build and promote use of inexpensive pit latrines. In the early years of the program studied here, the TSC caused six-year-olds exposed to it in their first year of life to be more likely to recognize letters and simple numbers. The results suggest both that open defecation is an important threat to the human capital of the Indian labor force, and that a program feasible to low capacity governments in developing countries could improve average cognitive skills.
    Keywords: Health Monitoring&Evaluation,Disease Control&Prevention,Primary Education,Educational Sciences,Population Policies
    Date: 2013–10–01

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