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Education and Family Background: Mechanisms and Policies

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  • Björklund, Anders
  • Salvanes, Kjell G.

Abstract

In every society for which we have data, people's educational achievement is positively correlated with their parents' education or with other indicators of their parents' socio-economic status. This topic is central in social science, and there is no doubt that research has intensified during recent decades, not least thanks to better data having become accessible to researchers. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize and evaluate recent empirical research on education and family background. Broadly speaking, we focus on two related but distinct motivations for this topic. The first is equality of opportunity. Here, the major research issues are: How important a determinant of educational attainment is family background, and is family background--in the broad sense that incorporates factors not chosen by the individual--a major, or only a minor, determinant of educational attainment? What are the mechanisms that make family background important? Have specific policy reforms been successful in reducing the impact of family background on educational achievement? The second common starting point for recent research has been the child development perspective. Here, the focus is on how human-capital accumulation is affected by early childhood resources. Studies with this focus address the questions: What types of parental resources or inputs are important for children's development, why are they important, and when are they important? In addition, this literature focuses on exploring which types of economic policy, and what timing of the policy in relation to children's social and cognitive development, are conducive to children's performance and adult outcomes. The policy interest in this research is whether policies that change parents' resources and restrictions have causal effects on their children.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3, June.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Education with number 3-03.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:3-03

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    Web page: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444513991

    Related research

    Keywords: Intergenerational Mobility; Sibling Correlations; Education; Education Reform;

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    References

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    1. Haegeland, Torbjørn & Kirkeboen, Lars & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2010. "Why Children of College Graduates Outperform their Schoolmates: A Study of Cousins and Adoptees," IZA Discussion Papers 5369, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Liu, Qian & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2009. "The Duration of Paid Parental Leave and Children's Scholastic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 4244, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page, 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 729-760, October.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "Parental Leave and Child Health," NBER Working Papers 6554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hertz Tom & Jayasundera Tamara & Piraino Patrizio & Selcuk Sibel & Smith Nicole & Verashchagina Alina, 2008. "The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-48, January.
    6. Diego Restuccia & Carlos Urrutia, 2002. "Intergenerational Persistence of Earnings: The Role of Early and College Education," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20024, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
    7. Oddbjørn Raaum & Kjell G. Salvanes & Erik O. Sørensen, 2006. "The Neighbourhood is Not What it Used to be," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 200-222, 01.
    8. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
    9. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2003. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is It Nature or Is It Nurture?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 611-641, June.
    10. Nina Guyon & Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2012. "The Effect of Tracking Students by Ability into Different Schools: A Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 684-721.
    11. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2010. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 4925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Kerr, Sari, 2009. "School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 965-973, August.
    13. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Hanushek, Eric & Machin, Stephen & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "Introduction," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    15. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
    17. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2010. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling - A Comparison of Estimation Methods," CESifo Working Paper Series 3234, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Gary Solon & Marianne E. Page & Greg J. Duncan, 2000. "Correlations Between Neighboring Children In Their Subsequent Educational Attainment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 383-392, August.
    19. Fabrice Murtin & Martina Viarengo, 2011. "The Expansion and Convergence of Compulsory Schooling in Western Europe, 1950–2000," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(311), pages 501-522, 07.
    20. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2008. "Vive la Révolution! Long-Term Educational Returns of 1968 to the Angry Students," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 1-33.
    21. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Discussion Papers 09-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Antoni, Manfred, 2011. "Lifelong learning inequality? The relevance of family background for on-the-job training," IAB Discussion Paper 201109, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    3. Floro Ernesto Caroleo & Francesco Pastore, 2012. "Talking about the Pigou paradox: Socio-educational background and educational outcomes of AlmaLaurea," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 33(1), pages 27-50, June.
    4. Venke Furre Haaland & Mari Rege & Kjetil Telle & Mark Votruba, 2014. "The intergenerational transfer of the employment gender gap," Discussion Papers 767, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
    5. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O'Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2011. "The Impact of Parental Earnings and Education on the Schooling of Children," Working Papers 201112, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    6. Zumbühl M.A. & Pfann G.A. & Dohmen T.J. & Pfann G.A., 2013. "Parental investment and the intergenerational transmission of economic preferences and attitudes," Research Memorandum 033, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    7. Lundborg, Petter & Nordin, Martin & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Exploring the Role of Skills and Health Using Data on Adoptees and Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 6099, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Marc Piopiunik, 2011. "Intergenerational Transmission of Education and Mediating Channels: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Germany," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 107, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    9. Nathalie Picard & François Charles Wolff, 2013. "Les inégalités intra-familiales d'éducation en France," Working Papers halshs-00853375, HAL.
    10. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.
    11. Huang, Jin, 2013. "Intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: The role of household assets," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 112-123.
    12. Hideo Akabayashi & Ryuichi Tanaka, 2013. "Long-Term Effects of Preschooling on Educational Attainments," Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Discussion Paper Series 2012-033, Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Program.
    13. Regula Geel & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2011. "Career Entry and Success After Tertiary Vocational Education," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0052, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).

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