Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 521–560 | Cite as

The intergenerational transmission of noncognitive skills and their effect on education and employment outcomes

  • Ildefonso Mendez
  • Gema Zamarro
Original Paper


We use information on second-generation migrants to study the existence of a cultural component on the formation process of noncognitive skills and its effect on education and employment outcomes. Our measures of noncognitive skills include: personality traits that children are encouraged to learn at home and inherited civic capital. Individuals whose cultural heritage places a relatively higher value to independence and, in comparison, a relative lower value on child qualities positively associated with the conscientiousness personality factor, i.e. hard work and thrift, report lower education, worse occupational status and lower wages on average. Individuals with a higher inherited civic capital declare a higher educational level, but we find no effect of inherited civic capital on adult labor market outcomes.


Culture Civic capital Child qualities Noncognitive skills Education Employment 

JEL Classification

I2 J24 Z1 



This research was supported by the Fundación Ramón Areces. We thank conference and seminar participants at the 2014 APPAM international conference, the APPAM 37th Annual Fall Research Conference, the RAND Labor and Population Brown Bag seminar series and the Department of Economics at the University of Arkansas seminar series, for their feedback. We also would like to thank the three anonymous referees for all their comments. Finally, we thank Collin Hitt for providing his thoughts on early versions of this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study was funded by a research grant from the Fundación Ramón Areces (Social Science Research Projects, 2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Economía Aplicada, Facultad de Economía y Empresa,University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Education Reform, College of Education and Health ProfessionsUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.Dornsife Center for Economic and Social ResearchUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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