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Educational Attainment and Family Background

This paper analyses the effect of aspects of family background, such as family income and parental education, on the educational attainment of persons born from 1967 to 1972. Family income is measured at different periods of a child’s life to separate longterm versus short-term effects of family income on educational choices. We find that permanent income matters to a certain degree, and that family income when the child is 0-6 years old is an important explanatory variable for educational attainment later in a child’s life. We find that short-term credit constraints have only a small effect on educational attainment. Long term factors, such as permanent family income and parental education are much more important for educational attainment than are shortterm credit constraints. Public interventions to alleviate the effects of family background should thus also be targeted at a child's early years, the shaping period for the cognitive and non-cognitive skills important later in life.

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File URL: http://www.uib.no/filearchive/No.%2010-05.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 10/05.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: 05 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2005_010
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/enEmail:


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  1. Raaum, Oddbjørn & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Sørensen, Erik Ø., 2003. "The Impact of a Primary School Reform on Educational Stratification: A Norwegian Study of Neighbour and School Mate Correlations," IZA Discussion Papers 953, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
  3. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  4. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sandra E. Black & Paul G. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2004. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education," NBER Working Papers 10720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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