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School Quality and Family Background in Italy

  • Brunello, Giorgio

    ()

    (University of Padova)

  • Checchi, Daniele

    ()

    (University of Milan)

We study whether the combined significant reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio and increase in parental education observed in Italy between the end of World War II and the end of the 1980s have had a significant impact on the educational attainment and the labor market returns of a representative sample of Italians born between 1941 and 1970. We find that the lower pupil-teacher ratio is positively correlated with higher educational attainment, but that the overall improvement of parental education has had an even stronger impact on attainment. We also find that the positive impact of better school quality on educational attainment and returns to education has been particularly significant for the individuals born in regions and cohorts with poorer family background. Parental education has had asymmetric effects, positive on attainment and negative on school returns. Better school quality has also had asymmetric effects on the returns to education, positive for individuals with poor family background and negative for individuals born in regions and cohorts with relatively high parental education. Our evidence suggests that better school quality, measured by a lower pupil-teacher ratio, is a technical substitute to parental education in the production of individual human capital. When school quality and family background are substitutes, an increase of public resources invested in education can be used to reduce the differences induced by parental education.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 705.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics of Education Review, 2005, 24 (5), 563-577
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp705
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  7. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 6385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  10. Jere R. Behrman & Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig & Prem Vashishtha, 1999. "Women's Schooling, Home Teaching, and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 682-714, August.
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  13. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," NBER Working Papers 3358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Vella, Francis & Gregory, R. G., 1996. "Selection bias and human capital investment: Estimating the rates of return to education for young males," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 197-219, September.
  15. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 736, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  16. Sveinbjörn Blöndal & Simon Field & Nathalie Girouard, 2002. "Investment in Human Capital Through Post-Compulsory Education and Training: Selected Efficiency and Equity Aspects," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 333, OECD Publishing.
  17. Wayne Strayer, 2002. "The Returns to School Quality: College Choice and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 475-503, July.
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  19. Ermisch, John F & Francesconi, Marco, 1997. "Family Matters," CEPR Discussion Papers 1591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  22. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
  23. Wright, Robert E., 1999. "The Rate of Return to Private Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 92, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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