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Education and Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Puerto Rico

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  • John C. Bluedorn
  • Elizabeth U. Cascio

Abstract

The existence of intergenerational spillovers to public investments in schooling is often assumed in policy discussions regarding economic development. However, few studies to date have forwarded convincing evidence that externalities exist for developing countries. In this paper, we address this issue using the arguably exogenous schooling consequences of a major hurricane strike on Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Using data from the U.S. Census of Population for Puerto Rico, we first find that individuals on the margin of school entry at the time of the storm and residing in the most exposed regions of the island had significantly lower levels of education as adults than their counterparts in less exposed regions. Using the interaction of wind speed and age at the time of the storm as an instrument, we then find that maternal education is related to the probability that a child speaks English. Our estimates imply an additional year of education raises the probability that a child speaks English by between 4.3 and 4.5 percentage points, or approximately 24 to 28 percent. We find no conclusive evidence that parental education increases the probability that a child is enrolled, literate, or in an age-appropriate grade. On balance, these findings suggest that education is responsible at least in part for the persistence of human capital across generations.

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File URL: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/papers/2005/w21/bluedorncascio-apr05.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 2005-W21.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:2005-w21

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Keywords: Education; Intergenerational mobility; Natural experiment; Hurricane;

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References

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  1. Esther Duflo, 2010. "The Medium Run Effects of Educational Expansion: Evidence from a Large School Construction Program in Indonesia," Working Papers id:2787, eSocialSciences.
  2. Sandra Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Working Paper Series 2004-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Lucia Breierova & Esther Duflo, 2004. "The Impact of Education on Fertility and Child Mortality: Do Fathers Really Matter Less Than Mothers?," NBER Working Papers 10513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Becker, Gary S & Barro, Robert J, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25, February.
  5. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2004. "Parental Education and Child's Education: A Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1153, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2006. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," NBER Working Papers 12329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eric V. Edmonds, 2004. "Does Illiquidity Alter Child Labor and Schooling Decisions? Evidence from Household Responses to Anticipated Cash Transfers in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 10265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, . "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 84-10, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  10. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  11. Drazen, Allan, 1978. "Government Debt, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 505-16, June.
  12. Shin-Yi Chou & Jin-Tan Liu & Michael Grossman & Theodore J. Joyce, 2007. "Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan," NBER Working Papers 13466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Dean Yang, 2006. "Coping with Disaster: The Impact of Hurricanes on International Financial Flows, 1970-2002," NBER Working Papers 12794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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