University of Wisconsin–Madison

Publications

Doren, Catherine and Eric Grodsky. 2016. “What skills can buy: Transmission of advantage through cognitive and noncognitive skills.” Sociology of Education 89(4): 321-342.

Parental income and wealth contribute to children’s success but are at least partly endogenous to parents’ cognitive and noncognitive skills.We estimate the degree to which mothers’ skills measured in early adult- hood confound the relationship between their economic resources and their children’s postsecondary education outcomes. Analyses of National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 suggest that maternal cog- nitive and noncognitive skills attenuate half of parental income’s association with child baccalaureate col- lege attendance, a fifth of its association with elite college attendance, and a quarter of its association with bachelor’s degree completion. Maternal skills likewise attenuate a third of parental wealth’s association with children’s baccalaureate college attendance, half of its association with elite college attendance, and a fifth of its association with bachelor’s degree completion. Observational studies of the relationship between parents’ economic resources and children’s postsecondary attainments that fail to account for parental skills risk seriously overstating the benefits of parental income and wealth.