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Education and Family Background: Mechanisms and Policies

  • Björklund, Anders

    ()

    (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Salvanes, Kjell G.

    ()

    (Norwegian School of Economics)

In every society for which we have data, people’s educational achievement is positively correlated with their parents’ education or with other indicators of their parents’ socioeconomic status. This topic is central in social science, and there is no doubt that research has intensified during recent decades, not least thanks to better data having become accessible to researchers. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize and evaluate recent empirical research on education and family background. Broadly speaking, we focus on two related but distinct motivations for this topic. The first is equality of opportunity. Here, major the research issues are: How important a determinant of educational attainment is family background, and is family background – in the broad sense that incorporates factors not chosen by the individual – a major, or only a minor, determinant of educational attainment? What are the mechanisms that make family background important? Have specific policy reforms been successful in reducing the impact of family background on educational achievement? The second common starting point for recent research has been the child development perspective. Here, the focus is on how human-capital accumulation is affected by early childhood resources. Studies with this focus address the questions: what types of parental resources or inputs are important for children's development, why are they important and when are they important? In addition, this literature focuses on exploring which types of economic policy, and what timing of the policy in relation to children's social and cognitive development, are conducive to children's performance and adult outcomes. The policy interest in this research is whether policies that change parents' resources and restrictions have causal effects on their children.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5002.

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Length: 83 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5002
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  1. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
  2. Hanushek, Eric & Machin, Stephen & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "Introduction," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  3. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Nina Guyon & Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2012. "The Effect of Tracking Students by Ability into Different Schools: A Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 684-721.
  5. Haegeland, Torbjørn & Kirkeboen, Lars & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2010. "Why Children of College Graduates Outperform their Schoolmates: A Study of Cousins and Adoptees," IZA Discussion Papers 5369, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Plug, Erik & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2001. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is it Nature or is it Nurture?," IZA Discussion Papers 247, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Kerr, Sari, 2009. "School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 965-973, August.
  8. Diego Restuccia & Carlos Urrutia, 2004. "Intergenerational Persistence of Earnings: The Role of Early and College Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1354-1378, December.
  9. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
  10. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
  11. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gary Solon & Marianne E. Page & Greg J. Duncan, 2000. "Correlations Between Neighboring Children In Their Subsequent Educational Attainment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 383-392, August.
  13. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ann Huff Stevens & Marianne Page & Philip Oreopoulos, 2005. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Working Papers 519, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  15. Holmlund, Helena & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2008. "The Causal Effect of Parent's Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," IZA Discussion Papers 3630, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  17. Raaum, Oddbjørn & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Sørensen, Erik Ø., 2003. "The Neighbourhood Is Not What It Used to Be," IZA Discussion Papers 952, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Fabrice Murtin & Martina Viarengo, 2011. "The Expansion and Convergence of Compulsory Schooling in Western Europe, 1950–2000," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(311), pages 501-522, 07.
  19. Liu, Qian & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2009. "The duration of paid parental leave and children’s scholastic performance," Working Paper Series 2009:14, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  20. 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.
  21. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2008. "Vive la Révolution! Long-Term Educational Returns of 1968 to the Angry Students," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 1-33.
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