Childhood cognitive ability and adult academic attainment : evidence from three British cohort studies.
Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 1 (3).
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||This paper examines the association between general cognitive ability directly measured in mid- childhood, and adult academic attainment in three British birth cohorts born in 1946, 1958, and 1970, controlling for family socio-economic background and gender. The study uses structural equation modeling to link latent variables indicating family socio-economic background, childhood general cognitive ability, and academic attainment, assessed through school leaving age and highest qualifications achieved by age 26. In addition, logistic regression modeling is used to establish the odds of obtaining degree level qualifications in times of social change. The results show that the association between family social background and academic attainment has remained more or less the same over time, gender inequalities have reduced, while the association between general cognitive ability and academic attainment has decreased for the 1970 cohort. Although more young people achieve degree level qualifications in the later born cohort, the findings suggest persisting social inequality in the realisation of cognitive potential and educational opportunities. The findings are discussed in terms of their policy implications.
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