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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol, Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mastrobuoni, Giovanni / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / de Vries, Frans / Zulehner, Christine

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Volume 10, Issue 1


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Volume 1 (2001)

IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?

Anders Björklund / Karin Hederos Eriksson / Markus Jäntti
Published Online: 2010-01-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2349


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: IQ; intergenerational mobility; sibling correlation

About the article

Published Online: 2010-01-19

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 10, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2349.

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