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Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height


  • Duncan Thomas


Using household survey data from the United States, Brazil, and Ghana, I examine the relationship beween parental education and child height, an indicator of health and nutritional status. In all three countries, the education of the mother has a bigger effect on her daughter's height; paternal education, in contrast, has a bigger impact on his son's height. There are, apparently, differences in the allocation of household resources depending on the gender of the child and these differences vary with the gender of the parent. These results are quite robust and persist even after including controls for unobserved household fixed effects. In Ghana, relative to other women, the education of a woman who is better educated than her husband has a bigger impact on the height of her daughter than her son. In Brazil, women's nonlabor income has a positive impact on the health of her daughter but not on her son's health. If relative education of parents and nonlabor income are indicators of power in household allocation decisions, then these results, along with difference-in-difference of estimated income effects, suggest that gender differences in resource allocations reflect both technological differences in child rearing and differences in the preferences of parents. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1.

Suggested Citation

  • Duncan Thomas, 1994. "Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 950-988.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:29:y:1994:4:1:p:950-988

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Newey, Whitney K & Powell, James L & Walker, James R, 1990. "Semiparametric Estimation of Selection Models: Some Empirical Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 324-328, May.
    2. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1982. "The Behavior of Mothers as Inputs to Child Health: The Determinants of Birth Weight, Gestation, and Rate of Fetal Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 53-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1983:73:10:1154-1156_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
    5. Jeffrey E. Harris, 1982. "Prenatal Medical Care and Infant Mortality," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 13-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    7. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    8. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1985. "Birth Outcome Production Functions in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 1729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mroz, Thomas A, 1987. "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 765-799, July.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1979:69:7:653-660_0 is not listed on IDEAS
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