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How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills

, , German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Germany

Economics of Education Review Volume 44, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Despite numerous studies on skill development, we know little about the effects of extracurricular music activities on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This study examines how music training during childhood and youth affects the development of cognitive skills, school grades, personality, time use and ambition using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our findings suggest that adolescents with music training have better school grades, are more conscientious, open and ambitious. These effects are stronger among adolescents from lower socio-economic status. In order to address the non-random selection into playing music, we take into account detailed information on the child and its parents, which may determine both the decision to pursue music lessons and educational outcomes. While lacking truly exogenous variations in music activities, our results are robust to a large range of sensitivity tests. We thereby approach causality better than previous observational studies.


Hille, A. & Schupp, J. (2015). How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills. Economics of Education Review, 44(1), 56-82. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved April 3, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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