Intergenerational Transmission of Education across the 20th Century. A Sibling Correlation Approach

Patrick Praeg , University of Oxford
Christiaan W. S. Monden, University of Oxford

We offer a fresh take on the question whether societies are becoming more open by analyzing sibling correlations in education across thirty-one countries and ten birth cohorts over the twentieth century. Sibling correlations can be interpreted as omnibus measures of family background effects, and less sibling resemblance in education indicates a weaker family background effect. Our data comprises 170 country-cohort combinations from 31 countries across all of the twentieth century, drawing on information of almost one million individuals. We show important variation in the family background effects across countries, revealing that in some countries families account for about a fifth of children's educational attainment, in others the family influence is almost three times as big. We further identify seven countries where family background effects have been decreasing over time (e.g. Belgium, Italy, Australia), and one country with the opposite trend--China.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 39. Human Capital, Wealth and Inter-Generational Transmission