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Friday, June 02, 2006

Correlation is Not Causation: Museums and Elite Colleges

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution finds:

How to get your kid into a better college:

The only out-of-school activity that increased the likelihood of a student ending up enrolled at an elite college was parental [sic] visits to art museums.

That is correlation, not causation....  Read more here. How about this?

Two types of participation made it more likely students would end up at elite colleges: yearbook or school newspapers and “hobby clubs.”  ...Numerous activities had no apparent impact on whether or not students will end up in college — elite or otherwise. School plays, interscholastic individual sports, intramurals, cheerleading, academic honor societies, public service clubs — no impact is clear from any of them.

... What do you all think of these results?

Here's more from the link above explaining why the authors think the correlation between parents going to art museums and kids getting into elite colleges is causal:

And to the extent that parents who visit art museums (even without their children) are likely to talk about high art and culture, their children (if they pay even a little attention) will pick up cultural knowledge that their peers lack. And if those parents teach their children to name drop, there could be an impact, especially if it allows students to shine in interviews. “A chance mention of the new Bertolucci film or the Ruscha show at the Whitney may tip an applicant from one pile to another,” the authors write.

This is telling, "There’s no correlation between visiting art museums and ending up at a top college yourself." I wonder what else you could find that is "caused" by parents going to art museums?

    Posted by on Friday, June 2, 2006 at 12:03 AM in Economics, Universities | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (4)


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