Discussion Paper Series in Economics, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)
Education and family background: Mechanisms and policies.
() and Kjell G. Salvanes
Abstract: In every society for which we have data, people’s
educational achievement is positively correlated with their parents’
education or with other indicators of their parents’socioeconomic status.
This topic is central in social science, and there is no doubt that
research has intensified during recent decades, not least thanks to better
data having become accessible to researchers. The purpose of this chapter
is to summarize and evaluate recent empirical research on education and
family background. Broadly speaking, we focus on two related but distinct
motivations for this topic. The first is equality of opportunity. Here,
major the research issues are: How important a determinant of educational
attainment is family background, and is family background—in the broad
sense that incorporates factors not chosen by the individual—a major, or
only a minor, determinant of educational attainment? What are the
mechanisms that make family background important? Have specific policy
reforms been successful in reducing the impact of family background on
educational achievement? The second common starting point for recent
research has been the child development perspective. Here, the focus is on
how human-capital accumulation is affected by early childhood resources.
Studies with this focus address the questions: what types of parental
resources or inputs are important for children’s development, why are they
important and when are they important? In addition, this literature focuses
on exploring which types of economic policy, and what timing of the policy
in relation to children’s social and cognitive development, are conducive
to children’s performance and adult outcomes. The policy interest in this
research is whether policies that change parents’ resources and
restrictions have causal effects on their children.
Keywords: Intergenerational mobility; Sibling correlations; Education; Education reform.; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: I21; J13; J24; (follow links to similar papers)
82 pages, June 4, 2010
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