IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?

12 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009

See all articles by Anders Bjorklund

Anders Bjorklund

Stockholm University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Karin Hederos Eriksson

Stockholm University

Markus Jantti

Stockholm University

Abstract

For the purpose of understanding the underlying mechanisms behind intergenerational associations in income and education, recent studies have explored the intergenerational transmission of abilities. We use a large representative sample of Swedish men to examine both intergenerational and sibling correlations in IQ. Since siblings share both parental factors and neighbourhood influences, the sibling correlation is a broader measure of the importance of family background than the intergenerational correlation. We use IQ data from the Swedish military enlistment tests. The correlation in IQ between fathers (born 1951-1956) and sons (born 1966-1980) is estimated to 0.347. The corresponding estimate for brothers (born 1951-1968) is 0.473, suggesting that family background explains approximately 50% of a person's IQ. Estimating sibling correlations in IQ we thus find that family background has a substantially larger impact on IQ than has been indicated by previous studies examining only intergenerational correlations in IQ.

Keywords: ability, intergenerational mobility, family background

JEL Classification: J0, I0, J1

Suggested Citation

Bjorklund, Anders and Hederos Eriksson, Karin and Jantti, Markus, IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4305. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1439158

Anders Bjorklund (Contact Author)

Stockholm University ( email )

Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)
S-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
+46 8 163452 (Phone)
+46 8 154670 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Karin Hederos Eriksson

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

Markus Jantti

Stockholm University ( email )

Swedish Institute for Social Research
Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+468162645 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.abo.fi/~mjantti/

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