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A test of the Becker-Tomes model of human capital transmission using microdata on four generations

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  • Lindahl, Mikael

    () (Uppsala University, CESifo, IFAU, IZA and UCLS)

  • Palme, Mårten

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Sandgren Massih, Sofia

    (Uppsala University)

  • Sjögren, Anna

    (IFAU, UCLS and SOFI Stockholm University)

Abstract

We estimate the well-known Becker-Tomes (1986) model of intergenerational transmission of human capital. A Swedish data set which links individual measures on educational attainments of four generations, enables us to use great grandparents’ education as an instrumental variable. This approach was suggested already in Becker- Tomes (1986) but, because of the lack of data, never implemented. The identifying assumption, which holds within the Becker-Tomes framework, is that great grandparents’ education is unrelated to great grandchild’s education, conditional on the education of the parent and grandparent. We test the prediction that the structural parameter for grandparents’ education enters with a negative sign in an intergenerational regression model where the education of a child is linearly related to the education of the parent and the education of the grandparent. We fail to find empirical support for the model’s predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindahl, Mikael & Palme, Mårten & Sandgren Massih, Sofia & Sjögren, Anna, 2013. "A test of the Becker-Tomes model of human capital transmission using microdata on four generations," Research Papers in Economics 2013:2, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2013_0002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2003. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is It Nature or Is It Nurture?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 611-641, June.
    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
    4. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-513, June.
    5. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Behrman, Jere & Tarbman, Paul, 1985. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the United States: Some Estimates and a Test of Becker's Intergenerational Endowments Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 144-151, February.
    7. 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 615-651, September.
    8. Stuhler, Jan, 2012. "Mobility Across Multiple Generations: The Iterated Regression Fallacy," IZA Discussion Papers 7072, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Nybom, Martin & Stuhler, Jan, 2013. "Interpreting Trends in Intergenerational Income Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 7514, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Lars Lefgren & Matthew J. Lindquist & David Sims, 2012. "Rich Dad, Smart Dad: Decomposing the Intergenerational Transmission of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 268-303.
    11. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2013. "Surnames and social mobility: England 1230-2012," Economic History Working Papers 54515, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2005. "Does Family Income Matter for Schooling Outcomes? Using Adoptees as a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 879-906, October.
    13. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dionissi Aliprantis & Daniel R. Carroll, 2012. "Neighborhood dynamics and the distribution of opportunity," Working Paper 1212, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 01 Feb 2013.
    2. Juan Cañada Vicinay, 2015. "Coyuntura económica y dotación social en la ecuación intergeneracional de Becker Tomes. Una estimación para España 2002-2013," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 10,in: Marta Rahona López & Jennifer Graves (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 10, edition 1, volume 10, chapter 40, pages 793-810 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    3. Mikael Lindahl & Mårten Palme & Sofia Sandgren Massih & Anna Sjögren, 2015. "Long-Term Intergenerational Persistence of Human Capital: An Empirical Analysis of Four Generations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-33.
    4. Jun, Bogang & Kaltenberg, Mary & Hwang, Won-sik, 2017. "How inequality hurts growth: Revisiting the Galor-Zeira model through a Korean case," MERIT Working Papers 034, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    The Becker-Tomes model; Human capital transmission; Multigenerational effects;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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