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Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital

  • Sandra E. Black
  • Paul J. Devereux
  • Kjell G. Salvanes

Parents with higher education levels have children with higher education levels. However, is this because parental education actually changes the outcomes of children, suggesting an important spillover of education policies, or is it merely that more able individuals who have higher education also have more able children? This paper proposes to answer this question by using a unique dataset from Norway. Using the reform of the education system that was implemented in different municipalities at different times in the 1960s as an instrument for parental education, we find little evidence of a causal relationship between parents' education and children's education, despite significant OLS relationships. We find 2SLS estimates that are consistently lower than the OLS estimates with the only statistically significant effect being a positive relationship between mother's education and son's education. These findings suggest that the high correlations between parents' and children's education are due primarily to family characteristics and inherited ability and not education spillovers.

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File URL: http://cemmap.ifs.org.uk/wps/cwp0316.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series CeMMAP working papers with number CWP16/03.

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Length: 47 pp.
Date of creation: Oct 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:16/03
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  1. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 4150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  4. Ann Huff Stevens & Marianne Page & Philip Oreopoulos, 2005. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Working Papers 519, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  5. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education and Child’s Education - A Natural Experiment," Working Papers 200414, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
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  7. 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.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 7444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Kenneth Rogoff & Michael Woodford, 2009. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number acem08-1, November.
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  11. Erik Plug, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Mother's Schooling on Children's Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 358-368, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra & Olivetti, Claudia, 2002. "Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labour and Education Choices," CEPR Discussion Papers 3592, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. 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).
  15. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  16. Oddbjørn Raaum & Kjell G. Salvanes & Erik O. Sørensen, 2006. "The Neighbourhood is Not What it Used to be," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 200-222, 01.
  17. Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor & Jäntti, Markus & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Österbacka, Eva, 2000. "Brother Correlations in Earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden Compared to the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 158, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
  19. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  20. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  21. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  22. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  23. Antonovics, Kate & Goldberger, Arthur S., 2003. "Do Educated Women Make Bad Mothers? Twin Studies of the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt2mk37677, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  24. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  25. Plug, Erik, 2002. "How Do Parents Raise the Educational Attainment of Future Generations?," IZA Discussion Papers 652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Casey B. Mulligan, 1999. "Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S184-S224, December.
  27. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  28. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? Evidence from Changes in School-Leaving Laws," Working Papers oreo-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  29. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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