This paper studies intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities from parents to children. We create a measure of parental cognitive evolu- tion across time, which combines cognitive tests scores obtained at the age of 16 with the ones at the age of 50. We are thus able to identify cognitive aging patterns and assess their impact in the intergenerational perspective. The British National Child Development Study (NCDS) allows us to investigate the effect of parental cognition on two distinct offspring’s outcomes: cognitive abilities and educational attainment. Our analysis provides novel
results concerning the role of parental cognitive transition during adult life. We find that children benefit not only from the stock of cognitive abilities their mothers and fathers hold as adolescents, but also from cognitive evolu- tion their parents achieve as adults. This outcome is significant and robust under various model specifications. Finally, we investigate the determinants of parental cognitive transition. We find that cognitive aging is attenuated for individuals who undergo multiple job variations, follow on-the-job trainings and engage in leisure activities. This analysis delivers new evidence on the role of policy interventions aimed at fostering cognitive function during adult life, which aside from improving individual outcomes, has positive externalities for the subsequent generations.
Keywords: intergenerational mobility, cognitive ability
JEL classification: I20, J24, J62