Parental Socioeconomic Status and Children's Cognitive Ability in China
45 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2022
It is widely recognized that intergenerational transmission is one of the primary causes of persistent social inequality. To what extent is a child’s cognitive development, which is highly related to their school performance and future labor market outcomes, impacted by their parents’ socioeconomic status? Using nationally representative data from the China Family Panel Studies (2010, 2014, and 2018), this paper is one of the first to provide a comprehensive investigation of parental SES and children’s cognitive outcomes in China. Our study moves beyond existing work by accounting for the direct intergenerational transmission of cognitive ability and by examining various novel mechanisms within the same framework. Our results show that parents’ education rather than income is positively associated with their children’s cognitive abilities. The analysis of mechanisms shows that educational disparity widens the gap in parental investment, as well as parental beliefs regarding education and expectations for their children. Nevertheless, we do not find differences in parenting productivity. In addition, we find that the impact is more prominent in rural areas where education resources are much more limited. Various tests have been performed to prove the robustness of our findings.
Keywords: Socioeconomic status, cognitive ability, parental investment, parenting productivity, beliefs
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