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Why children of college graduates outperform their schoolmates. A study of cousins and adoptees

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  • Torbjørn Hægeland
  • Lars Johannessen Kirkebøen
  • Oddbjørn Raaum
  • Kjell G. Salvanes

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

Abstract

There is massive cross-sectional evidence that children of more educated parents outperform their schoolmates on tests, grade repetition and in educational attainment. However, evidence for causal interpretation of this association is weak. Within a rich census level data set for Norway, we examine the causal relationship using two approaches for identification: cousins with twin parents and adopted children. In line with most of the literature, we find no effect of mothers’ education on children’s school performance using the children-of-twins approach. However, for adopted children, mother’s education has a positive effect, but only a third of the size of the effect found in biological relationships in adopting families. Carefully tracking the work experience of parents during offspring childhood, we find no support for the hypothesis that the small causal effects of parental education can be explained by detrimental effects of higher labour force participation among more educated mothers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 628.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:628

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Keywords: Intergenerational transmission; education; pupil achievement;

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References

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  1. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2005. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1739, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Björklund, Anders & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2010. "Education and family background: Mechanisms and policies," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 14/2010, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  2. Gould, Eric D & Simhon, Avi, 2011. "Does Quality Time Produce Quality Children? Evidence on the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital using Parental Deaths," CEPR Discussion Papers 8258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.
  4. Holmlund, Helena & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2010. "The Causal Eff ect of Parent’s Schooling on Children’s Schooling," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2010:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  5. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-51, September.

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