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The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes

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  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

This paper uses data on adopted children to examine the relative importance of biology and environment in determining educational and labor market outcomes. I employ three long-term panel data sets which contain information on adopted children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. In at least two of the three data sets, the mechanism for assigning children to adoptive parents is fairly random and does not match children to adoptive parents based on health, race, or ability. I find that adoptive parents' education and income have a modest impact on child test scores but a large impact on college attendance, marital status, and earnings. In contrast with existing work on IQ scores, I do not find that the influence of adoptive parents declines with child age.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7949.

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Date of creation: Oct 2000
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Publication status: published as Sacerdote, Bruce. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes." American Economic Review 92, 2 (May 2002): 344-48.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7949

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  1. Das, Mitali & Sjogren, Tanja, 2002. "The inter-generational link in income mobility: evidence from adoptions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 55-60, March.
  2. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  3. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Is Schooling "Mostly in the Genes"? Nature-N urture Decomposition Using Data on Relatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1425-46, December.
  4. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 7949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Orley Ashenfelter & Alan Krueger, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 683, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Plug, Erik & Vijverberg, Wim, 2000. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is It Nature of Is It Nurture?," Discussion Papers, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy 736, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  7. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1997. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 6106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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