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What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?

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  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

I use a new data set of Korean-American adoptees who, as infants, were randomly assigned to families in the U.S. I examine the treatment effects from being assigned to a high income family, a high education family or a family with four or more children. I calculate the transmission of income, education and health characteristics from adoptive parents to adoptees. I then compare these coefficients of transmission to the analogous coefficients for biological children in the same families, and to children raised by their biological parents in other data sets. Having a college educated mother increases an adoptee's probability of graduating from college by 7 percentage points, but raises a biological child's probability of graduating from college by 26 percentage points. In contrast, transmission of drinking and smoking behavior from parents to children is as strong for adoptees as for non-adoptees. For height, obesity, and income, transmission coefficients are significantly higher for non-adoptees than for adoptees. In this sample, sibling gender composition does not appear to affect adoptee outcomes nor does the mix of adoptee siblings versus biological siblings.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Sacerdote, 2004. "What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?," NBER Working Papers 10894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10894
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    Cited by:

    1. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O’ Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2013. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
    2. Eiji Yamamura, 2014. "Smokers’ Sexual Behavior and Their Satisfaction with Family Life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 1229-1247, September.
    3. Lindahl, Mikael & Palme, Mårten & Sandgren Massih, Sofia & Sjögren, Anna, 2012. "The intergenerational persistence of human capital: an empirical analysis of four generations," Working Paper Series 2012:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Pinka Chatterji & Jeffrey DeSimone, 2006. "High School Alcohol Use and Young Adult Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Meng, Xin & Zhao, Guochang, 2016. "The Long Shadow of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: The Intergenerational Transmission of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 10460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Lídia Farré & Roger Klein & Francis Vella, 2012. "Does Increasing Parents’ Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation? Evidence Based on Conditional Second Moments," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(5), pages 676-690, October.
    7. Muennig, Peter & Franks, Peter & Jia, Haomiao & Lubetkin, Erica & Gold, Marthe R, 2005. "The income-associated burden of disease in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(9), pages 2018-2026, November.
    8. Lindahl, Mikael & Palme, Mårten & Sandgren Massih, Sofia & Sjögren, Anna, 2011. "Transmission of Human Capital across Four Generations: Intergenerational Correlations and a Test of the Becker-Tomes Model," Working Paper Series 2011:18, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    9. Jencks, Christopher & Tach, Laura, 2005. "Would Equal Opportunity Mean More Mobility?," Working Paper Series rwp05-037, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Chen, Yuyu & Li, Hongbin, 2009. "Mother's education and child health: Is there a nurturing effect?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 413-426, March.
    11. Ebonya Washington, 2006. "Female Socialization: How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues," NBER Working Papers 11924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jason Abrevaya & Hongfei Tang, 2011. "Body mass index in families: spousal correlation, endogeneity, and intergenerational transmission," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 841-864, December.
    13. 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.
    14. de Walque, Damien, 2005. "Parental education and children's schooling outcomes : is the effect nature, nurture, or both? evidence from recomposed families in Rwanda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3483, The World Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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