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Causal effects of parents' education on children's education

  • Ermisch, John
  • Pronzato, Chiara

The paper shows that parents’ education is an important, but hardly exclusive part of the common family background that generates positive correlation between siblings’ educational attainments. Our estimates based on Norwegian twins indicate that an additional year of either mother’s or father’s education increases their children’s education by as little as one-tenth of a year. There is evidence that father’s education has a larger effect than that of mothers: one explanation is that better educated mothers work more in paid employment and spend less time interacting with their children. We test this hypothesis and find no evidence to support it.

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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2010-16.

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Date of creation: 18 May 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2010-16
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2003. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," CeMMAP working papers CWP16/03, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
  3. Chiara Pronzato, 2012. "An examination of paternal and maternal intergenerational transmission of schooling," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 591-608, January.
  4. Silke Anger & Guido Heineck, 2010. "Do smart parents raise smart children? The intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 1105-1132, June.
  5. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Björklund Anders & Hederos Eriksson Karin & Jäntti Markus, 2010. "IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-14, January.
  8. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2008. "Like Father, Like Son? A Note on the Intergenerational Transmission of IQ Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 3651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Tom Hertz & Tamara Jayasundera & Patrizio Piraino & Sibel Selcuk & Nicole Smith & Alina Verashchagina, 2007. "The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends," Working Papers 2007-013, American University, Department of Economics.
  10. Ghazala Naz, 2004. "The impact of cash-benefit reform on parents’ labour force participation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 369-383, 06.
  11. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Lena & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2008. "What More Than Parental Income? An Exploration of What Swedish Siblings Get from Their Parents," IZA Discussion Papers 3735, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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