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Correlation, Consumption, Confusion, or Constraints: Why do Poor Children Perform so Poorly?

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  • Lance Lochner

    (University of Western Ontario)

  • Elizabeth Caucutt

    (University of Western Ontario)

Abstract

Early developing and persistent gaps in child achievement by family income combined with the importance of adolescent skill levels for educational attainment and lifetime earnings suggest that a key component of intergenerational economic and social mobility is determined by the time individuals enter school. After providing new evidence of important differences in early child investments by family income, we study four leading mechanisms thought to explain these gaps: an intergenerational correlation in ability, a consumption value of investment, information frictions, and credit constraints. Specifically, we evaluate the extent to which these mechanisms are consistent with other important stylized facts related to the marginal returns on investments and the effects of parental income on child investments and skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Lance Lochner & Elizabeth Caucutt, 2016. "Correlation, Consumption, Confusion, or Constraints: Why do Poor Children Perform so Poorly?," 2016 Meeting Papers 158, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:158
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    Cited by:

    1. Suzanne Bellue, 2024. "Why Don’t Poor Families Move? A Spatial Equilibrium Analysis of Parental Decisions with Social Learning," Working Papers 2024-07, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    2. Uguccioni, James, 2022. "The long-run effects of parental unemployment in childhood," CLEF Working Paper Series 45, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    3. Bhalotra, Sonia & Delavande, Adeline & Font-Gilabert, Paulino & Maselko, Joanna, 2020. "Maternal investments in children: the role of expected effort and returns," ISER Working Paper Series 2020-03, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Jo Blanden & Matthias Doepke & Jan Stuhler, 2022. "Education inequality," CEP Discussion Papers dp1849, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Teodora Boneva & Christopher Rauh, 2018. "Parental Beliefs about Returns to Educational Investments—The Later the Better?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(6), pages 1669-1711.
    6. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2020. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1065-1147.
    7. Urvi Neelakantan & Ivan Vidangos & Felicia Ionescu & Kartik Athreya, 2016. "Investment Opportunities and the Sources of Lifetime Inequality," 2016 Meeting Papers 1177, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Juan Chaparro & Aaron Sojourner & Matthew J. Wiswall, 2020. "Early Childhood Care and Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 26813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander & Popova, Irina, 2024. "Shaping inequality and intergenerational persistence of poverty: Free college or better schools," ICIR Working Paper Series 54/24, Goethe University Frankfurt, International Center for Insurance Regulation (ICIR).
    10. Emily Beam & Priya Mukherjee & Laia Navarro-Sola, 2022. "Lowering Barriers to Remote Education: Experimental Impacts on Parental Responses and Learning," Working Papers 2022-030, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    11. Youngmin Park, 2018. "Inequality in Parental Transfers, Borrowing Constraints, and Optimal Higher Education Subsidies," 2018 Meeting Papers 623, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Francesco Agostinelli & Matthew Wiswall, 2016. "Estimating the Technology of Children's Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 22442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Orazio Attanasio & Teodora Boneva & Christopher Rauh, 2022. "Parental Beliefs about Returns to Different Types of Investments in School Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 57(6), pages 1789-1825.
    14. Georg F. Camehl & C. Katharina Spieß & Kurt Hahlweg, 2019. "Short- and Mid-Term Effects of a Parenting Program on Maternal Well-Being: Evidence for More and Less Advantaged Mothers," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1062, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    15. Josh Kinsler & Ronni Pavan, 2016. "Parental Beliefs and Investment in Children: The Distortionary Impact of Schools," Working Papers 2016-029, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    16. Suzane Bellue, 2023. "Why Don’t Poor Families Move? A Spatial Equilibirum Analysis of Parental Decisions with Social Learning," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2023_472, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    17. Orazio Attanasio & Sarah Cattan & Costas Meghir, 2021. "Early Childhood Development, Human Capital and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 29362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Marti Mestieri & Johanna Schauer & Robert Townsend, 2017. "Human Capital Acquisition and Occupational Choice: Implications for Economic Development," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 25, pages 151-186, April.

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    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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