Mothers’ Human Capital and the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty: The Impact of Mothers’ Intellectual Human Capital and Long-Run Nutritional Status on Children’s Human Capital Guatemala
Agnes R. Quisumbing
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) - Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CIGAR)
University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) - Food Consumption and Nutrition Division
February 3, 2010
Chronic Poverty Research Centre Working Paper No. 160
IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 12-4
Many prior studies find significant cross-sectional positive ordinary least squares (OLS) associations between maternal human capital (usually maternal schooling attainment) and children’s human capital (usually children’s schooling, but in some cases children’s nutritional status). This paper uses rich Guatemalan longitudinal data collected over 35 years to explore several limitations of these ‘standard’ estimates. The preferred estimates developed herein suggest that: (1) maternal human capital is more important than suggested by the standard estimates; (2) maternal cognitive skills have a greater impact than maternal schooling attainment on children’s biological human capital; and (3) for some important indicators of children’s human capital, maternal biological capital has larger effect sizes than maternal intellectual capital (schooling and cognitive skills). These results imply that breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, malnutrition and intellectual deprivation through investments in women’s human capital may be more effective than previously suggested, but will require approaches that account for dimensions of women’s human capital beyond just their schooling. Effective interventions to improve women’s biological and intellectual human capital often begin in utero or in early childhood; thus, their realisation will take longer than if more schooling were the only relevant channel.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: intergenerational Transmission of Poverty, Childhood Poverty, Educationworking papers series
Date posted: December 5, 2010
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