The Transmission of Educational Advantage across Three Generations: Grandparent Effects and Spousal Mediation in the Second Generation
41 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 17, 2016
The publication of research examining three-generational mobility processes has accelerated during the past half-decade, due in part to new and expanded data that now include large sample sizes of families with more than two generations. However, this area of inquiry is relatively new and little is known about the mechanisms of intergenerational effects beyond parent-child ties. In this article, we draw upon theory and research on intergenerational mobility, maternal education, educational homogamy, and status exchange to propose a new potential mechanism of the transmission of educational attainment from grandparents to grandchildren in the United States: second generation spousal mediation. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we find evidence that grandparent’s educational attainment positively effects their child’s spouse’s educational attainment net of child’s educational attainment. This pathway then mediates the effect of grandparent’s educational attainment on grandchild’s educational attainment. Further analysis suggests no gender differences in the spousal mediation effect. Overall, this research suggests that grandparent’s educational attainment matters to grandchildren, but is partially mediated through child’s spouse’s educational attainment. We suggest that three-generational transmission of educational advantage is a complex topic in need of further, careful examination of original mechanisms.
Keywords: Intergenerational Mobility, Educational Attainment, Mobility, Inequality, Grandparents
JEL Classification: E24, I20, I24, J11, J12, J62, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation