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Intergenerational transmission of education - Uncovering the mechanisms behind high intergenerational correlations


  • Florian Wendelspiess Chávez Juárez

    () (Department of Economics, University of Geneva)


Education is a main player in social mobility, however, it remains unclear through which channel the high observed intergenerational correlations of educational attainment are produced. The literature proposed very different mechanisms that could drive these correlations. This paper uses a structural equation model and data from Mexico to estimate the relative importance of the main channels simultaneously. The results sustain all of the most commonly proposed mechanisms and underline the importance to look at them simultaneously. The economic situation of a family has a large direct effect on children's schooling attainment, even when controlling for all other possible channels. Parental education has direct and indirect effects through the economic situation. Together, these two findings clearly reject the hypothesis that the educational correlations are only the fruit of a transmission of ability from one generation to the next and sustaining the idea that some inequality of opportunity is present.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Wendelspiess Chávez Juárez, 2011. "Intergenerational transmission of education - Uncovering the mechanisms behind high intergenerational correlations," Working Papers 234, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  • Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2011-234

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christoph Winter, 2014. "Accounting for the Changing Role of Family Income in Determining College Entry," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(4), pages 909-963, October.
    2. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2008. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision: A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2163-2184, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Björklund Anders & Hederos Eriksson Karin & Jäntti Markus, 2010. "IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-14, January.
    5. Anger, Silke & Heineck, Guido, 2010. "Do Smart Parents Raise Smart Children? The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Abilities," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1105-1132.
    6. Orazio Attanasio & Katja Kaufmann, 2009. "Educational Choices, Subjective Expectations, and Credit Constraints," NBER Working Papers 15087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mariano Rojas, 2007. "A Subjective Well-being Equivalence Scale for Mexico: Estimation and Poverty and Income-distribution Implications," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 273-293.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eliseo Hernández-Ruiz, 2016. "Intervención temprana: una apuesta para la movilidad social," Working Paper Series Sobre México 2016001, Sobre México. Temas en economía.

    More about this item


    intergenerational transmission of education; social mobility; IQ transmission; inequality.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion


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