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Like Mother, Like Daughter? SES and the Intergenerational correlation of Traits, Behaviors and Attitudes

  • Susan E. Mayer
  • Greg Duncan
  • Ariel Kalil

This paper examines the transmission of socioeconomic status from one generation to the next. We use intergenerational data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and its Child Supplement to estimate the effect of parental family SES (income and education) and other family background factors on a broad set of adolescents’ traits, behaviors and attitudes; characteristics that are themselves important predictors of future income and education. Consistent with past research, we find positive and often quite substantial effects of parental family SES and other background factors on these adolescent characteristics. But controlling for an unusually extensive and matched set of maternal characteristics, measured when mothers themselves were adolescents, reduces most of the estimated effects of SES by half or more. We then examine the correlation between mother and daughter traits, behaviors and attitudes and find little support for the proposition that socioeconomic status accounts for an important share of these similarities.

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Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0415.

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Date of creation: Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0415
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