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Why the Apple Doesn't Fall: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital

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  • Black, Sandra
  • Devereux, Paul J.
  • Salvanes, Kjell G

Abstract

Parents with higher education levels have children with higher education levels. Is this because parental education actually changes the outcomes of children, suggesting an important spillover of education policies, or is it merely that more able individuals who have higher education also have more able children? This Paper proposes to answer this question by using a unique dataset from Norway. Using the reform of the education system that was implemented in different municipalities at different times in the 1960s as an instrument for parental education, we find little evidence of a causal relationship between parents’ education and children’s education, despite significant OLS relationships. We find 2SLS estimates that are consistently lower than the OLS estimates with the only statistically significant effect being a positive relationship between mother's education and son's education. These findings suggest that the high correlations between parent’s and children’s education are due primarily to family characteristics and inherited ability and not education spillovers.

Suggested Citation

  • Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 4150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4150
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O’ Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2013. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
    2. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Intergenerational Effects in Sweden: What Can We Learn from Adoption Data?," IZA Discussion Papers 1194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Lourdes Gallardo & Hugo R. Ñopo, 2009. "Ethnic and Gender Wage Gaps in Ecuador," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1646, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. Meng, Xin & Zhao, Guochang, 2016. "The Long Shadow of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: The Intergenerational Transmission of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 10460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
    6. Eric A. Hanushek, 2004. "Some Simple Analytics of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 10229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bruce Sacerdote, 2004. "What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?," NBER Working Papers 10894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereaux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High? The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Births," NBER Working Papers 10911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2003. "Occupational Choice Across Generations," IZA Discussion Papers 975, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Ebonya Washington, 2006. "Female Socialization: How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues," NBER Working Papers 11924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Haegeland, Torbjørn & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2005. "Pupil Achievement, School Resources and Family Background," IZA Discussion Papers 1459, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Xiao, Mimi, 2015. "Intergenerational transmission and the effects of health on migration," Economics PhD Theses 0515, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    13. Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2004. "Pupil achievement, school resources and family backgr," Discussion Papers 397, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    14. de Walque, Damien, 2005. "Parental education and children's schooling outcomes : is the effect nature, nurture, or both? evidence from recomposed families in Rwanda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3483, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; educational reform; intergenerational mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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