The Inter-Generational Transmission of Cognitive Abilities and Early Childhood Development Outcomes in Guatemala

Maria C. Calderon, University of Pennsylvania
John Hoddinott, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

This study will examine Early Childhood Development (ECD) outcomes and their association with family characteristics, investments and environmental factors. We are particularly interested in the inter-generational transmission of cognitive abilities. Given the strong causal links between cognitive abilities and economic productivity in adulthood, the inter-generational transmission of these abilities represents an important pathway by which economic advantage or poverty is perpetuated over time, an issue of especial salience in Latin America with its long history of inequality. While there are many associational studies on this topic, these cannot be considered causal given that the cognitive abilities of different generations reflect, in part, unobservable factors such as the genetic heritability of such abilities which are common across generations. We propose to examine the causal relationship between parental cognitive abilities and ECD outcomes of their offspring using a rich data set from rural Guatemala that can account for such unobservable factors.

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Presented in Poster Session 2