nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2024‒04‒22
three 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. Schooling and self-control By Deborah A. Cobb-Clark; Sarah C. Dahmann; Daniel A. Kamhöfer; Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch
  3. Toward an Understanding of the Returns to Cognitive Skills Across Cohorts By Judith K. Hellerstein; Sai Luo; Sergio S. Urzúa

  1. By: Eva M. Berger; Ernst Fehr; Henning Hermes; Daniel Schunk; Kirsten Winkel
    Abstract: Working memory capacity is a key component of executive functioning and 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 spillover effects on these other 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 positive spillover effects on geometry, Raven’s fluid IQ measure, and the ability to inhibit pre-potent impulses. Moreover, these spillover 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: 2024
  2. By: Deborah A. Cobb-Clark (School of Economics, The University of Sydney); Sarah C. Dahmann (Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, The University of Melbourne); Daniel A. Kamhöfer (Institute of Economics, University of Kaiserslautern-Landau); Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch (Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
    Abstract: While there is an established positive relationship between self-control and education, the direction of causality remains a matter of debate. We make a contribution to resolving this issue by exploiting a series of Australian and German educational reforms that increased minimum education requirements as a source of exogenous variation in education levels. Instrumental variables estimates suggest that, for people affected by the reforms, an additional year of schooling has no effect on self-control.
    Keywords: self-control, quasi-experiments, compulsory schooling reforms, Brief Self-Control Scale
    JEL: D90 I26 C26
    Date: 2024–03
  3. By: Judith K. Hellerstein; Sai Luo; Sergio S. Urzúa
    Abstract: Recent research concludes that wage returns to cognitive skills have declined in the U.S. We reassess this finding. Using decomposition methods, we document the pivotal role played by dynamic shifts in the distributions of pre-labor market cognitive skills. Our findings show these shifts explain the declining estimated returns to cognitive skills, especially for white men. We discard measurement error as a potential driver. Although often overlooked, grappling with changing pre-labor market skill distributions is necessary for capturing the evolution of labor market returns to cognitive skills. This may prove especially important in the future given continuing changes in skill development in recent youth cohorts.
    JEL: J24 J31
    Date: 2024–03

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