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What Linear Estimators Miss: The Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes

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  • Katrine V. Løken
  • Magne Mogstad
  • Matthew Wiswall

Abstract

We assess the implications of nonlinearity for IV and FE estimation when the estimated model is inappropriately assumed to be linear. Our application is the causal link between family income and child outcomes. Our nonlinear IV and FE estimates show an increasing, concave relationship between family income and children's outcomes. We find that the linear estimators miss the significant effects of family income because they assign little weight to the large marginal effects in the lower part of the income distribution. We also show that the linear IV and FE estimates differ primarily because of different weighting of marginal effects. (JEL C26, D14, J12, J13)

Suggested Citation

  • Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad & Matthew Wiswall, 2012. "What Linear Estimators Miss: The Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-35, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:1-35
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.2.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "Estimating and Testing Non-Linear Models Using Instrumental Variables," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20112, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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