Education and intergenerational mobility: evidence from a natural experiment in Puerto Rico


Bluedorn, John and Cascio, Elizabeth U. (2005) Education and intergenerational mobility: evidence from a natural experiment in Puerto Rico. Oxford, UK, University of Oxford (Nuffield College Economics Paper, (2005-W21) ).

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Description/Abstract

The existence of intergenerational spillovers to public investments in schooling is often assumed in policy discussions regarding economic development. However, few studies to date have forwarded convincing evidence that externalities exist for developing countries. In this paper, we address this issue using the arguably exogenous schooling consequences of a major hurricane strike on Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Using data from the U.S. Census of Population for Puerto Rico, we first find that individuals on the margin of school entry at the time of the storm and residing in the most exposed regions of the island had significantly lower levels of education as adults than their counterparts in less exposed regions. Using the interaction of wind speed and age at the time of the storm as an instrument, we then find that maternal education is related to the probability that a child speaks English. Our estimates imply an additional year of education raises the probability that a child speaks English by between 4.3 and 4.5 percentage points, or approximately 24 to 28 percent. We find no conclusive evidence that parental education increases the probability that a child is enrolled, literate, or in an age-appropriate grade. On balance, these findings suggest that education is responsible at least in part for the persistence of human capital across generations.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
Keywords: education, intergenerational mobility, natural experiment, hurricane
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Economics
ePrint ID: 42753
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:27
Publisher: University of Oxford
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/42753

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