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

40 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2010

See all articles by Agnes R. Quisumbing

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Alexis Murphy

CGIAR - Food Consumption and Nutrition Division

Kathryn Yount

Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Hubert Department of Global Health ; Emory University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: February 3, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: intergenerational Transmission of Poverty, Childhood Poverty, Education

Suggested Citation

Quisumbing, Agnes R. and Behrman, Jere R. and Murphy, Alexis and Yount, Kathryn, 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 (February 3, 2010). Chronic Poverty Research Centre Working Paper No. 160; IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 12-4. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1719646 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1719646

Agnes R. Quisumbing (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Jere R. Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7704 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

Alexis Murphy

CGIAR - Food Consumption and Nutrition Division ( email )

Washington, DC 20006-1002
United States

Kathryn Yount

Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Hubert Department of Global Health ( email )

United States

Emory University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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