Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Bergen, Department of Economics

No 10/05: Educational Attainment and Family Background

Arild Aakvik (), Kjell Gunnar Salvanes () and Kjell Vaage ()
Additional contact information
Arild Aakvik: University of Bergen, Department of Economics, Postal: Hermann Fossgt. 6, N-5007 Bergen, Norway
Kjell Gunnar Salvanes: Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business, Postal: Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Kjell Vaage: University of Bergen, Department of Economics, Postal: Hermann Fossgt. 6, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: This paper analyses the effect of aspects of family background, such as family income and parental education, on the educational attainment of persons born from 1967 to 1972. Family income is measured at different periods of a child’s life to separate longterm versus short-term effects of family income on educational choices. We find that permanent income matters to a certain degree, and that family income when the child is 0-6 years old is an important explanatory variable for educational attainment later in a child’s life. We find that short-term credit constraints have only a small effect on educational attainment. Long term factors, such as permanent family income and parental education are much more important for educational attainment than are shortterm credit constraints. Public interventions to alleviate the effects of family background should thus also be targeted at a child's early years, the shaping period for the cognitive and non-cognitive skills important later in life.

Keywords: credit constraints; education; Norway; family background

JEL-codes: D33; H43; I28

15 pages, April 5, 2005

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