Primary and Secondary School Quality and Intergenerational Earnings Mobility
While theory suggests that public expenditures on education may affect intergenerational earnings mobility, the direction of the effect hinges on whether such outlays substitute for or complement private human capital investments. Analysis of U.S. census data, 1940–2000, shows that state-cohorts with low pupil-to-teacher ratios enjoy less intergenerational mobility: a two-standard-deviation reduction in the pupil-to-teacher ratio increases earnings persistence by 40 percent. These results are robust to controls for the average pupil-to-teacher ratio in the state in years the son was not in school, a result contrary to simple endogeneity stories.
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