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January 9, 2013

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

How learning a musical instrument affects educational achievement


January 9, 2013


DIW Berlin im Quartier 110
Room 5.2.010
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Jürgen Schupp, Adrian Hille
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.