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Parental education and children's schooling outcomes : is the effect nature, nurture, or both? evidence from recomposed families in Rwanda

  • de Walque, Damien

Educated parents tend to have educated children. But is intergenerational transmission of human capital more nature, more nurture, or both? The author uses household survey data from Rwanda that contains a large proportion of children living in households without their biological parents. The data allows him to separate genetic from environmental parental influences. The nonrandom placement of children is controlled by including the educational attainment of the absent biological parents and the type of relationship that links the children to their"adoptive"families. The results of the analysis suggest that the nurture component of the intergenerational transmission of human capital is important for both parents, contrary to recent evidence proposed by Behrman and Rosenzweig (2002) and Plug (2004). The author concludes that mothers’ education had no environmental impact on children’s schooling. Interestingly, mothers’ education matters more for girls, while fathers’ education is more important for boys. Finally, an important policy recommendation in the African context emerges from the analysis: the risk for orphans or abandoned children to lose ground in their schooling achievements is minimized if they are placed with relatives.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3483.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3483
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  1. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  2. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education and Child’s Education - A Natural Experiment," Working Papers 200414, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  4. Evans, David & Miguel, Edward A., 2005. "Orphans and Schooling in Africa: A Longitudinal Analysis," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt14w3s2fh, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Verwimp, Philip, 2003. "The political economy of coffee, dictatorship, and genocide," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 161-181, June.
  6. Richard Akresh, 2005. "Risk, Network Quality, and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso," Working Papers 902, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  7. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 4150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. 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.
  9. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  10. Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Joseph Ableidinger, 2004. "Orphans in Africa: parental death, poverty, and school enrollment," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 483-508, August.
  11. Bruce Sacerdote, 2004. "What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?," NBER Working Papers 10894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Erik Plug, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Mother's Schooling on Children's Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 358-368, March.
  13. Anne Case & I-Fen Lin & Sara McLanahan, 1999. "How Hungry is the Selfish Gene?," NBER Working Papers 7401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Joseph Ableidinger, 2002. "Orphans in Africa," NBER Working Papers 9213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Akresh, Richard, 2005. "Risk, Network Quality, and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso," IZA Discussion Papers 1471, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Taubman, Paul, 1976. "The Determinants of Earnings: Genetics, Family, and Other Environments; A Study of White Male Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 858-70, December.
  17. Richard Akresh, 2004. "Adjusting Household Structure: School Enrollment Impacts of Child Fostering in Burkina Faso," Working Papers 897, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  18. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Intergenerational Effects in Sweden: What Can We Learn from Adoption Data?," IZA Discussion Papers 1194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Akresh, Richard, 2004. "Adjusting Household Structure: School Enrollment Impacts of Child Fostering in Burkina Faso," IZA Discussion Papers 1379, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Ainsworth, Martha & Filmer, Deon, 2002. "Poverty, AIDS, and children's schooling - a targeting dilemma," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2885, The World Bank.
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