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Nature or Nurture in Higher Education? Inter-generational Implications of the Vietnam-Era Lottery

Author

Listed:
  • Christofides, L.

    (University of Guelph)

  • Hoy, M.

    (University of Guelph)

  • Milla, J.

    () (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE, Belgium)

  • Stengos, T.

    (University of Guelph)

Abstract

It is evident that a strong positive correlation persists between the educational attainment of parents and that of their children in many, if not most, populations. This relationship may form an important part of the phenomenon of low social mobility as well as inefficiently low investment in human capital by youth who have parents with relatively low educational attainment. Is it a genetic inter-generational transmission of innate ability from parents to their children (i.e. nature) or is it the environment that the better educated parents provide for their children (i.e. nurture) that explains this positive relationship? Understanding the relative contributions of nature versus nurture is critical to the development of any social policy designed to increase social and economic mobility between generations. Separating the so-called nature and nurture effects of this relationship is a difficult task. We use the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery as a natural experiment to address the nature-nurture question. Attending university in order to avoid the draft created a cohort which included individuals who would not normally have attended post-secondary educational institutions. Comparing the educational attainment of children of this cohort to that of cohorts who attended university in “normal times” creates a natural experiment to test the relative importance of the nature or nurture explanations. Our findings provide evidence in support of the nurture argument.

Suggested Citation

  • Christofides, L. & Hoy, M. & Milla, J. & Stengos, T., 2015. "Nature or Nurture in Higher Education? Inter-generational Implications of the Vietnam-Era Lottery," CORE Discussion Papers 2015019, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2015019
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    File URL: http://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/core/documents/coredp2015_19web.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028.
    2. Grimard, Franque & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Education and smoking: Were Vietnam war draft avoiders also more likely to avoid smoking?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 896-926, September.
    3. Hertz Tom & Jayasundera Tamara & Piraino Patrizio & Selcuk Sibel & Smith Nicole & Verashchagina Alina, 2008. "The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-48, January.
    4. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2009. "Like father, like son? A note on the intergenerational transmission of IQ scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 138-140, October.
    5. Björklund Anders & Jäntti Markus & Solon Gary, 2007. "Nature and Nurture in the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Swedish Children and Their Biological and Rearing Parents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-23, November.
    6. Joshua D. Angrist & Stacey H. Chen, 2011. "Schooling and the Vietnam-Era GI Bill: Evidence from the Draft Lottery," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 96-118, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inter-generational mobility; higher education attendance;

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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