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The Role of Mothers and Fathers in Providing Skills: Evidence from Parental Deaths

  • Adda, Jérôme; Björklund, Anders; Holmlund, Helena

This paper evaluates the long-term consequences of parental death on children’s cognitive and noncognitive skills, as well as on labor market outcomes. We exploit a large administrative data set covering many Swedish cohorts. We develop new estimation methods to tackle the potential endogeneity of death at an early age, based on the idea that the amount of endogeneity is constant or decreasing during childhood. Our method also allows us to identify a set of death causes that are conditionally exogenous. We find that the loss of either a father or a mother on boys’ earnings is no higher than 6-7 percent and slightly lower for girls. Our examination of the impact on cognitive skills (IQ and educational attainment) and on noncognitive skills (emotional stability, social skills) shows rather small effects on each type of skill. We find that both mothers and fathers are important, but mothers are somewhat more important for cognitive skills and fathers for noncognitive ones.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2011/08.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2011/08
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  1. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
  2. Elizabeth Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2004. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Credit Constraints, and the Family," 2004 Meeting Papers 129, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  4. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Death and Divorce: The Long-Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 682-715, July.
  5. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-51, September.
  6. Butler, Jeffrey V. & Giuliano, Paola & Guiso, Luigi, 2009. "The Right Amount of Trust," IZA Discussion Papers 4416, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Francesconi, Marco & Jenkins, Stephen P & Siedler, Thomas, 2005. "Childhood Family Structure and Schooling Outcomes: Evidence for Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 5362, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Paul Gertler & David I. Levine & Minnie Ames, 2003. "Schooling and Parental Death," HEW 0303001, EconWPA.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  10. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  11. Raquel Bernal, 2008. "The Effect Of Maternal Employment And Child Care On Children'S Cognitive Development," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1173-1209, November.
  12. Erik Lindqvist & Roine Vestman, 2011. "The Labor Market Returns to Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability: Evidence from the Swedish Enlistment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 101-28, January.
  13. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella, 2008. "The Dynamics of Child Poverty in Sweden," Working Paper Series 4/2008, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  14. Liu, Qian & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2009. "The Duration of Paid Parental Leave and Children's Scholastic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 4244, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
  16. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  18. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. 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.
  20. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  21. Wickens, Michael R, 1972. "A Note on the Use of Proxy Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(4), pages 759-61, July.
  22. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
  23. Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2006. "The impact of parental death on school outcomes: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 401-420, August.
  24. Bernal, Raquel & Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Quasi-structural estimation of a model of childcare choices and child cognitive ability production," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 164-189, May.
  25. Stacey H. Chen & Yen-Chien Chen & Jin-Tan Liu, 2009. "The Impact of Unexpected Maternal Death on Education: First Evidence from Three National Administrative Data Links," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 149-53, May.
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