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Human Capital Spillovers in Families: Do Parents Learn from or Lean on their Children?


  • Ilyana Kuziemko


I develop a model in which a child's acquisition of a given form of human capital incentivizes adults in his household to either learn from him (if children act as teachers then adults' cost of learning the skill falls) or lean on him (if children's human capital substitutes for that of adults in household production then adults' benefit of learning the skill falls). I exploit regional variation in two shocks to children's human capital and examine the effect on adults. The rapid introduction of primary education for black children in the South during Reconstruction not only increased literacy of children but also of adults living in the same household ("learning" outweighs "leaning"). Conversely, the 1998 introduction of English immersion in California public schools appears to have increased the English skills of children but discouraged adults living with them from acquiring the language ("leaning" outweighs "learning"). Whether family members learn from or lean on each other has implications for the externalities associated with education policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Human Capital Spillovers in Families: Do Parents Learn from or Lean on their Children?," NBER Working Papers 17235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17235
    Note: CH ED LS PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tom S. Vogl, 2012. "Education and Health in Developing Economies," Working Papers 1453, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    2. Xu, Kun & Guan, Zhihua & Xu, Wenli, 2015. "省级财政支出效率空间溢出效应研究:基于超效率dea和gsm模型
      [Study on Spatial Spillover Effect of Provincial Fiscal Efficiency: Based on Super-Efficient DEA and GSM Model]
      ," MPRA Paper 71132, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:pri:rpdevs:vogl_ed_health_review is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Tengtrakul, Pitikorn & Peha, Jon M., 2013. "Does ICT in schools affect residential adoption and adult utilization outside schools?," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 540-562.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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