How learning a musical instrument affects educational achievement
Learning a musical instrument during childhood may increase educational opportunities by improving cognitive skills, teaching non-cognitive skills or by sending positive signals to teachers. Our study tests these hypotheses with data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, which contains information on musical practice during childhood as well as detailed parental background characteristics. In order to reduce the bias resulting from non-random selection into musical practice, we use propensity score matching. Moreover, we test the robustness of our results with siblings fixed effects. We find that learning a musical instrument improves cognitive skills by 0.3 and school marks by 0.15 standard deviations. Educational ambitions improve whereas non-cognitive skills do not seem to be affected. Positive effects are stronger for children from lower socio-economic status.