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The Effect of Parents' Employment on Children's Educational Attainment

  • Ermisch, John


    (University of Oxford)

  • Francesconi, Marco


    (University of Essex)

This paper presents the conditions under which a causal interpretation can be given to the association between childhood parental employment and subsequent education of children. In a model in which parental preferences are separable in own consumption and children’s well-being, estimation is complicated by endowment heterogeneity and by the fact that parents may compensate or reinforce children’s endowments relevant to educational attainment. A sibling difference estimation strategy is generally not sufficient to provide a consistent estimate of the parameter of interest. Identification rests on two stronger assumptions about the timing of parents’ knowledge of their children’s endowments and about the technology used to produce children’s human capital. We find a negative and significant effect on the child’s educational attainment of the extent of mother’s full-time employment when the child was aged 0-5. The effects of mother’s part-time employment and father’s employment are smaller and less well determined but again negative. In the context of our conditional demand function framework, these results suggest that a higher full family income increases the educational attainment of children, and given full family income, a higher mother’s or father’s wage reduces their children’s educational attainment.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 215.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp215
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  1. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
  2. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1995. "Sisters, Siblings, and Mothers: The Effect of Teen-Age Childbearing on Birth Outcomes in a Dynamic Family Context," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 303-26, March.
  3. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution and Child Health," Bulletins 8429, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  4. Michael, Robert T, 1973. "Education in Nonmarket Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 306-27, Part I, M.
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  8. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  9. Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 2000. "Child Development and Success or Failure in the Youth Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 247-288 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
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  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, And Ability: Evidence From A New Sample Of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284, February.
  14. Barbara Wolfe & Robert Haveman & Donna Genther & Chong-Bum An, 1992. "The "Window Problem" in Studies of Children's Attainments: A Methodological Exploration," NBER Technical Working Papers 0125, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Strauss, John, 1990. "Households, Communities, and Preschool Children's Nutrition Outcomes: Evidence from Rural Cote d'Ivoire," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 231-61, January.
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