Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling

48 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2003

See all articles by Philip Oreopoulos

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Marianne Page

University of California, Davis

Ann Huff Stevens

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2003

Abstract

The strong correlation between parents' economic status and that of their children has been well-documented, but little is known about the extent to which this is a causal phenomenon. This paper attempts to improve our understanding of the causal processes that contribute to intergenerational immobility by exploiting historical changes in compulsory schooling laws that affected the educational attainment of parents without affecting their innate abilities or endowments. We examine the influence of parental compulsory schooling on grade retention status for children aged 7 to 15 using the 1960, 1970 and 1980 U.S. Censuses. Our estimates indicate that a one-year increase in the education of either parent reduces the probability that a child repeats a grade by between two and seven percentage points. Among 15 to 16 year olds living at home, we also estimate that parental compulsory schooling significantly lowers the likelihood of dropping out. These findings suggest that education policies may be able to reduce part of the intergenerational transmission of inequality.

Suggested Citation

Oreopoulos, Philip and Page, Marianne and Stevens, Ann, Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling (December 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w10164. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=478674

Philip Oreopoulos (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

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Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Marianne Page

University of California, Davis ( email )

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Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-1551 (Phone)

Ann Stevens

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

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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