Intergenerational Educational Attainment Mobility and Family Structure

Type Conference Paper - 29th General Conference of The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth
Title Intergenerational Educational Attainment Mobility and Family Structure
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
Intergenerational mobility is addressed through an examination of the role of family
structure in the transmission of educational attainment within a family using the one
percent Integrated Public Use Microsample Series (IPUMS) of the decennial Census for
the decades 1970 and 1990. Two alienation measures, which test the degree to which
children from different family structures differ in attainment, indicate that although
children from intact family consistently outperform their peers from single parent
families, this differential has shrunk between 1970 and 1990. They also indicate
improvements in attainment for endogenously (divorced and separated) relative to
exogenously (widowed) single parent children, suggesting changes in custody laws over
the 1980s had a desirable impact on children from endogenously single parent families.
Welfare implications based upon Stochastic Dominance tests accord with the above
findings. Assuming a quadratic human capital production technology, we found that
income effects are smaller in 1990 than they were in 1970, but the returns to parental
educational status increased over the same period. These observations are similar for both
intact and endogenously single parent families. Further, there seems to be a convergence
in technology between intact and single parent families, evidence of a trend towards
equal opportunity for all children. Finally mobility indices are developed which indicate
that mobility in the generational transition has improved for all but exogenously single
parent family types.

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