Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings and Longitudinal Data

65 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2002 Last revised: 30 Oct 2010

See all articles by Janet Currie

Janet Currie

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Princeton University

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: December 2002

Abstract

We estimate the effect of maternal education on birth outcomes using data from the Vital Statistics Natality files for 1970 to 1999. We also assess the importance of four potential channels through which maternal education may improve birth outcomes: use of prenatal care, smoking behavior, marriage, and fertility. In an effort to account for unobserved characteristics of women that could induce spurious correlation, we pursue two distinct empirical strategies. First, we construct panel data by linking women in different years of the Vital Statistics records and examine the effects of changes in education on changes in birth outcomes. Second, we have compiled a new data set on openings of two and four year colleges between 1940 and 1990. We use data about the availability of colleges in the woman's county in her 17th year as an instrument for maternal education Our findings using the two approaches are similar. Higher maternal education improves infant health, as measured by birthweight and gestational age. It also increases the probability that a new mother is married, reduces parity, increases use of prenatal care, and reduces smoking, suggesting that these are important pathways for the ultimate effect on health.

Suggested Citation

Currie, Janet and Moretti, Enrico, Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings and Longitudinal Data (December 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9360. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=359861

Janet Currie (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
6092587393 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/~moretti/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
46
Abstract Views
1,813
PlumX Metrics