nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2023‒07‒10
four papers chosen by

  1. The Impact of Working Memory Training on Children's Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills By Eva M. Berger; Ernst Fehr; Henning Hermes; Daniel Schunk; Kirsten Winkel
  2. Cognitive Skills among Adults: An Impeding Factor for Gender Convergence? By Michele Battisti; Alexandra Fedorets; Lavinia Kinne
  3. Maternal Life Satisfaction and Child Development from Toddlerhood to Adolescence By Datta Gupta, Nabanita; Jessen, Jonas; Spiess, C. Katharina
  4. Overconfident Boys: The Gender Gap in Mathematics Self-Assessment By Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna; Jerrim, John; Pingault, Jean-Baptiste; Shure, Nikki

  1. By: Eva M. Berger (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs); Ernst Fehr (University of Zurich); Henning Hermes (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf); Daniel Schunk (Johannes Gutenberg University); Kirsten Winkel (Johannes Gutenberg University)
    Abstract: Working memory capacity is thought to play an important role for a wide range of cognitive and noncognitive skills such as fluid intelligence, math, reading, the inhibition of pre-potent impulses or more general self-regulation abilities. Because these abilities substantially affect individuals' life trajectories in terms of health, education, and earnings, the question of whether working memory (WM) training can improve them is of considerable importance. However, whether WM training leads to improvements in these far-transfer skills is contested. Here, we examine the causal impact of WM training embedded in regular school teaching by a randomized educational intervention involving a sample of 6–7 years old first graders. We find substantial immediate and lasting gains in working memory capacity. In addition, we document relatively large positive far-transfer effects on important skills such as geometry, Raven's fluid IQ measure, and the ability to inhibit pre-potent impulses. Moreover, these far-transfer effects emerge over time and only become fully visible after 12–13 months. Finally, we document that three years after the intervention the children who received training have a roughly 16 percentage points higher probability of entering the academic track in secondary school.
    Date: 2023–06–23
  2. By: Michele Battisti; Alexandra Fedorets; Lavinia Kinne
    Abstract: While gender differences in labor force participation and wages have been studied extensively, gender gaps in cognitive skills among adults are not yet well understood. Using the PIAAC dataset, this paper presents novel findings on cognitive skill distributions by gender across 34 countries. Despite increasing educational equality, inequalities in numeracy skills favoring men compared to women are pervasive. These skill differences account for a sizable part of the gender wage gap. Furthermore, there are larger disadvantages for women at the top of the wage distribution, which are complemented by lower returns to skills compared to men. We also find that these numeracy-wage patterns are especially pronounced for parents and for those with the highest degree in a non-STEM field of study.
    Keywords: gender wage gap, skills, numeracy, PIAAC
    JEL: I24 J16 J24
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Datta Gupta, Nabanita (Aarhus University); Jessen, Jonas (IZA); Spiess, C. Katharina (Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung (BiB))
    Abstract: In this paper we analyse the association between maternal well-being and child develop- ment at different ages. We use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) which captures maternal life satisfaction and numerous cognitive and non-cognitive child development outcomes. We identify a strong positive association between mothers' life satisfaction and their children's development when these are toddlers (2-3 years, VAB scores), of primary school age (5-10 years, SEB scores and Big 5) and in adolescence (11-14 years, life satisfaction, school grades and self-reported Big 5). This relationship holds when we control for a wide range of potentially confounding factors, including maternal education, employment, household income and maternal personality traits. We confirm our main findings with an IV estimation where we instrument contemporaneous maternal life satisfaction with that measured pre-birth and with a value-added model as some child outcomes are observed twice at different ages. Our findings suggest that mothers' life satisfaction is beneficial for their children's development at all ages and that it is fruitful for policy makers to identify measures through which maternal well-being can be raised.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, subjective well-being, mothers, child development, skill formation
    JEL: J13 I22
    Date: 2023–05
  4. By: Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna (KRTK KTI; Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Institute of Economics); Jerrim, John (University College London); Pingault, Jean-Baptiste (University College London); Shure, Nikki (University College London)
    Abstract: It is well established that boys perceive themselves to be better in mathematics than girls, even when their ability is the same. We examine the drivers of this male overconfidence in self-assessed mathematics ability using a longitudinal study of twins. This allows us to control for family fixed effects, i.e. shared genetic and environmental factors, and exploit the random assignment of the sex of one's co-twin. Using measures of individual self-assessment in mathematics from childhood and adolescence, along with mathematics levels and test scores, cognitive skills, parent and teacher mathematics assessments, and characteristics of their families and siblings, we examine potential channels of the gender gap. Our results confirm that objective mathematics abilities only explain a small share of the gender gap in self-assessed mathematics abilities, and the gap is even larger within opposite-sex twin pairs. We find that having a confident male co-twin increases the confidence of boys but decreases the confidence of girls, not just in mathematics, but also in their self-assessment of other abilities. Male overconfidence might explain why men self-select into top jobs or STEM courses, making entry more difficult for women. We also find that parents are more likely to overestimate boys' and underestimate girls' mathematics abilities. Gender-biased parental assessments explain a large part of the gender gap in mathematics self-assessment, highlighting the importance of the intergenerational transmission of gender stereotypes.
    Keywords: gender gaps, self-assessed mathematics ability, twins, overconfidence, peer effects
    JEL: I24 J16
    Date: 2023–05

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