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Education and Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Puerto Rico

  • John C. Bluedorn
  • Elizabeth U. Cascio

The existence of intergenerational spillovers to public investments in schooling is often assumed in policy discussions regarding economic development. However, few studies to date have forwarded convincing evidence that externalities exist for developing countries. In this paper, we address this issue using the arguably exogenous schooling consequences of a major hurricane strike on Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Using data from the U.S. Census of Population for Puerto Rico, we first find that individuals on the margin of school entry at the time of the storm and residing in the most exposed regions of the island had significantly lower levels of education as adults than their counterparts in less exposed regions. Using the interaction of wind speed and age at the time of the storm as an instrument, we then find that maternal education is related to the probability that a child speaks English. Our estimates imply an additional year of education raises the probability that a child speaks English by between 4.3 and 4.5 percentage points, or approximately 24 to 28 percent. We find no conclusive evidence that parental education increases the probability that a child is enrolled, literate, or in an age-appropriate grade. On balance, these findings suggest that education is responsible at least in part for the persistence of human capital across generations.

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File URL: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/papers/2005/w21/bluedorncascio-apr05.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 2005-W21.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:2005-w21
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  1. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2004. "Parental Education and Child's Education: A Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1153, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. Sandra Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Working Paper Series 2004-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  10. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  11. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
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  14. Drazen, Allan, 1978. "Government Debt, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 505-16, June.
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