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What Linear Estimators Miss: Re-Examining the Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes

Author

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  • Loken, Katrine Vellesen

    () (Norwegian School of Economics)

  • Mogstad, Magne

    () (University of Chicago)

  • Wiswall, Matthew

    () (Arizona State University)

Abstract

This paper uses a rich Norwegian dataset to re-examine the causal relationship between family income and child outcomes. Motivated by theoretical predictions and OLS results that suggest a nonlinear relationship, we depart from previous studies in allowing the marginal effects on children’s outcomes of an increase in family income to vary across the income distribution. Our nonlinear IV and fixed-effect estimates show an increasing, concave relationship between family income and children's educational attainment and IQ. The linear estimates, however, suggest small, if any, effect of family income, because they assign little weight to the large marginal effects at the lower part of the income distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne & Wiswall, Matthew, 2010. "What Linear Estimators Miss: Re-Examining the Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 4971, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4971
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Katrine V. L�ken & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2014. "Care or Cash? The Effect of Child Care Subsidies on Student Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 824-837, December.
    2. Lance Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2012. "Credit Constraints in Education," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 225-256, July.
    3. Daniela Del Boca & Christopher Flinn & Matthew Wiswall, 2014. "Household Choices and Child Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 137-185.
    4. Aaberge, Rolf & Mogstad, Magne & Peragine, Vito, 2011. "Measuring long-term inequality of opportunity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 193-204.
    5. Marcela Ibanez & Gerhard Riener, 2018. "Sorting through Affirmative Action: Three Field Experiments in Colombia," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 437-478.
    6. Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad & Matthew Wiswall, 2012. "What Linear Estimators Miss: The Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-35, April.
    7. Gordon B. Dahl & Lance Lochner, 2012. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1927-1956, August.
    8. Daniela Del Boca & Christopher Flinn & Matthew Wiswall, 2016. "Transfers to Households with Children and Child Development," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(596), pages 136-183, October.
    9. Magne Mogstad & Matthew Wiswall, 2009. "How Linear Models Can Mask Non-Linear Causal Relationships. An Application to Family Size and Children's Education," Discussion Papers 586, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    10. Petter Lundborg; & Anton Nilsson; & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2012. "Parental education and offspring outcomes: evidence from the Swedish compulsory schooling reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/12, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    11. Drange, Nina & Havnes, Tarjei & Sandsør, Astrid M.J., 2016. "Kindergarten for all: Long run effects of a universal intervention," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 164-181.
    12. Mogstad, M. & Wiswall, M., 2012. "Instrumental variables estimation with partially missing instruments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 186-189.
    13. Mathias Kuepie & Michel Tenikue & Samuel Nouetagni & Nicaise Misangumukini, 2014. "Number, Age Composition and School Achievements of Siblings in Two African Capital Cities," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 534-552, December.
    14. Dev, Pritha & Mberu, Blessing & Pongou, Roland, 2013. "Communitarianism, Oppositional Cultures, and Human Capital Contagion: Theory and Evidence from Formal versus Koranic Education," MPRA Paper 46234, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Apr 2013.
    15. Alexander M. Gelber & Matthew C. Weinzierl, 2012. "Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources," NBER Working Papers 18332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2012. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," NBER Working Papers 18493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "Estimating and Testing Non-Linear Models Using Instrumental Variables," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20112, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    18. Román David Zárate, 2013. "Family size and children quality: New evidence and new exogenous shocks in the case of Colombian Households," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010588, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    19. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2015. "Estimating and Testing Models with Many Treatment Levels and Limited Instruments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 387-397, May.
    20. Jessica Meredith & Frank Neri & Joan Rodgers, 2013. "Family Impacts on Cognitive Development of Young Children: Evidence from Australia," Economics Working Papers wp13-05, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
    21. Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue & Sarah Giroux, 2012. "Fertility Transitions and Schooling: From Micro- to Macro-Level Associations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1407-1432, November.
    22. repec:esx:essedp:726 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    child development; instrumental variables estimation; family income; linear models; fixed effects estimation; nonlinearities;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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