Schooling, occupation and cognitive function: Evidence from compulsory schooling laws


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Description: This paper assesses whether additional schooling has lasting causal effects on cognitive function, and explores the role of occupation type in shaping these effects. Exploiting quasi-experimental variation from the 1972 raising of the school leaving age in England and Wales, an additional year of schooling improves working memory by one- to two-thirds of a standard deviation. Limited evidence was detected for causal effects on verbal fluency and numeric ability. Analyses of the underlying mechanisms show occupation can explain up to about one-fifth of schooling’s effects on memory. However these figures are imprecisely estimated, and the role of occupation remains an area for further study.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


Older versions of this working paper were circulated as: "Does schooling have lasting effects on cognitive function? Evidence from compulsory schooling laws"


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