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Mothers Do Matter: New Evidence on the Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling Using Swedish Twin Data


  • Amin, Vikesh

    () (Central Michigan University)

  • Lundborg, Petter

    () (Lund University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    () (Stockholm University)


Behrman and Rosenzweig (2002) used data on a small sample of MZ (monozygotic, identical) twin parents and their children to show that father's schooling is more important than mother's schooling for children's schooling in the U.S. Recent studies based on much larger samples of twins from registry data in Scandinavian countries reach similar conclusions. Most of these studies, however, are unable to distinguish between MZ and DZ (dizygotic, fraternal) twins. Using data from the Swedish Twin Registry, we replicate the finding that father's schooling matters more than mother's schooling in a combined sample of MZ and DZ twin parents. In contrast, results based on MZ twin parents show that mother's schooling matters at least as much as father's schooling for children's schooling. We also estimate the effect of parents' schooling separately by child gender and find this effect to be entirely driven by the impact of mother's schooling on daughter's schooling. Our results show that (1) it is vital to have zygosity information to estimate causal intergenerational effects and (2) the conclusions reached by Behrman and Rosenzweig (2002) for the U.S. do not apply in Sweden.

Suggested Citation

  • Amin, Vikesh & Lundborg, Petter & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Mothers Do Matter: New Evidence on the Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling Using Swedish Twin Data," IZA Discussion Papers 5946, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5946

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ermisch, John & Pronzato, Chiara, 2010. "Causal effects of parents' education on children's education," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-16, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-651, September.
    3. Andrea Ichino & Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2004. "Reconciling Motherhood and Work: Evidence from Time Use Data in Three Countries," CSEF Working Papers 114, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Kate L. Antonovics & Arthur S. Goldberger, 2005. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1738-1744, December.
    5. Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "No Child Left Behind: Subsidized Child Care and Children's Long-Run Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 97-129, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental education and child’s education : a natural experiment," Working Papers 200414, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    8. 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.
    9. Chiara Pronzato, 2012. "An examination of paternal and maternal intergenerational transmission of schooling," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(2), pages 591-608, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Grossman, 2015. "The Relationship between Health and Schooling: What’s New?," NBER Working Papers 21609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nicolas Fleury & Fabrice Gilles, 2015. "A meta-regression analysis on intergenerational transmission of education: publication bias and genuine empirical effect," TEPP Working Paper 2015-02, TEPP.
    3. Lundborg, Petter & Nordin, Martin & Rooth, Dan Olof, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital. The Role of Skills and Health," Working Papers 2012:22, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    4. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Lundborg, Petter & Lyttkens, Carl Hampus & Nystedt, Paul, 2012. "Do Socioeconomic Factors Really Explain Income-Related Inequalities in Health? Applying a Twin Design to Standard Decomposition Analysis," Working Papers 2012:21, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    5. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.

    More about this item


    twin-fixed effects; intergenerational mobility; schooling; twins;

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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