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

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

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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4150.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4150
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  17. Antonovics, Kate & Goldberger, Arthur S., 2003. "Do Educated Women Make Bad Mothers? Twin Studies of the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt2mk37677, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  18. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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