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The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes

  • Bruce Sacerdote

This paper uses data on adopted children to examine the relative importance of biology and environment in determining educational and labor market outcomes. I employ three long-term panel data sets which contain information on adopted children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. In at least two of the three data sets, the mechanism for assigning children to adoptive parents is fairly random and does not match children to adoptive parents based on health, race, or ability. I find that adoptive parents' education and income have a modest impact on child test scores but a large impact on college attendance, marital status, and earnings. In contrast with existing work on IQ scores, I do not find that the influence of adoptive parents declines with child age.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7949.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7949.

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Date of creation: Oct 2000
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Publication status: published as Sacerdote, Bruce. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes." American Economic Review 92, 2 (May 2002): 344-48.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7949
Note: CH LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, And Ability: Evidence From A New Sample Of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284, February.
  2. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  3. 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).
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & Alan Krueger, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," Working Papers 683, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  6. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Is Schooling "Mostly in the Genes"? Nature-N urture Decomposition Using Data on Relatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1425-46, December.
  7. Das, Mitali & Sjogren, Tanja, 2002. "The inter-generational link in income mobility: evidence from adoptions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 55-60, March.
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