Last week in Taki’s Magazine, I wrote in my “Lost Edisons” column about Raj Chetty’s “Lost Einsteins” study of the family backgrounds of American inventors. Timofey Pnin now points out this new study of Finnish inventors that includes IQ scores, which Chetty mostly lacked for his American study
THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF INVENTORS
Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, Ari Hyytinen, Otto Toivanen
http://www.nber.org/papers/w24110 NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
This project owes a lot to early discussions with Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel and John Van Reenen when we were embarking on two parallel projects, them on US inventors and us on Finnish inventors. …
In this paper we merge three datasets – individual income data, patenting data, and IQ data – to analyze the determinants of an individual’s probability of inventing. We find that: (i) parental income matters even after controlling for other background variables and for IQ, yet the estimated impact of parental income is greatly diminished once parental education and the individual’s IQ are controlled for; (ii) IQ has both a direct effect on the probability of inventing an indirect impact through education. The effect of IQ is larger for inventors than for medical doctors or lawyers. The impact of IQ is robust to controlling for unobserved family characteristics by focusing on potential inventors with brothers close in age. We also provide evidence on the importance of social family interactions, by looking at biological versus non-biological parents. Finally, we find a positive and significant interaction effect between IQ and father income, which suggests a misallocation of talents to innovation.