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Parental Education, Grade Attainment and Earnings Expectations among University Students

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Author Info

  • Delaney, Liam

    ()
    (University of Stirling)

  • Harmon, Colm P.

    ()
    (University of Sydney)

  • Redmond, Cathy

    ()
    (University College London)

Abstract

While there is an extensive literature on intergenerational transmission of economic outcomes (education, health and income for example), many of the pathways through which these outcomes are transmitted are not as well understood. We address this deficit by analysing the relationship between socio-economic status and child outcomes in university, based on a rich and unique dataset of university students. While large socio-economic differences in academic performance exist at the point of entry into university, these differences are substantially narrowed during the period of study. Importantly, the differences across socio-economic backgrounds in university grade attainment for female students is explained by intermediating variables such as personality, risk attitudes and time preferences, and subject/college choices. However, for male students, we explain less than half of the socio-economic gradient through these same pathways. Despite the weakening socio-economic effect in grade attainment, a key finding is that large socio-economic differentials in the earnings expectations of university students persist, even when controlling for grades in addition to our rich set of controls. Our findings pose a sizable challenge for policy in this area as they suggest that equalising educational outcomes may not translate into equal labour market outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5646.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics of Education Review, 2011, 30 (6), 1136-1152
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5646

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Keywords: inequality; education; socio-economic status; discrimination;

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References

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  1. Elish Kelly & Philip O'Connell & Emer Smyth, 2008. "The Economic Returns to Field of Study and Competencies Among Higher Education Graduates in Ireland," Papers, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) WP242, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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Cited by:
  1. Kleibrink, Jan & Michaelsen, Maren M., 2014. "Reaching High: Occupational Sorting and Higher Education Wage Inequality in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 8255, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Deniz Gevrek & Z. Eylem Gevrek & Cahit Guven, 2013. "Benefits of Education at the Intensive Margin: Childhood Academic Performance and Adult Outcomes among American Immigrants," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-11, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  3. Mohamed Siala & Nehed Ben Ammar, 2014. "Vocational and General Education of Girls and Boys in Tunisia: The Effects of Income and Parental Education," Eurasian Journal of Social Sciences, Eurasian Publications, Eurasian Publications, vol. 2(1), pages 11-19.
  4. Filippin, Antonio & Paccagnella, Marco, 2011. "Family Background, Self-Confidence and Economic Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6117, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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