Now showing 1 - 10 of 14
  • Publication
    From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes
    (MIT Press Journals, Massachusets Institute, 2007-02) ; ;
    Lower birth weight babies have worse outcomes, both short-run in terms of one-year mortality rates and longer run in terms of educational attainment and earnings. However, recent research has called into question whether birth weight itself is important or whether it simply reflects other hard-to-measure characteristics. By applying within twin techniques using an unusually rich dataset from Norway, we examine the effects of birth weight on both short-run and long-run outcomes for the same cohorts. We find that birth weight does matter; despite short-run twin fixed effects estimates that are much smaller than OLS estimates, the effects on longer-run outcomes such as adult height, IQ, earnings, and education are significant and similar in magnitude to OLS estimates.
      1141Scopus© Citations 651
  • Publication
    The (Un)Importance of Inheritance
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022-01) ; ; ;
    Transfers from parents—either in the form of gifts or inheritances—have received much attention as a source of inequality. This paper uses a 19-year panel of administrative data for the population of Norway to examine the share of the Total Inflows available to an individual (defined as the capitalized sum of net labor income, government transfers, and gifts and inheritances received over the period) accounted for by capitalized gifts and inheritances. Perhaps surprisingly, we find that gifts and inheritances represent a small share of Total Inflows; this is true across the distribution of Total Inflows, as well as at all levels of net wealth at a point in time. Gifts and inheritances are only an important source of income flows among those who have very wealthy parents. Additionally, gifts and inheritances have very little effect on the distribution of Total Inflows – when we do a counterfactual Total Inflows distribution with zero gifts and inheritances, it is not much different from the actual distribution. Our findings suggest that inheritance taxes may do little to mitigate the extreme wealth inequality in society.
      282
  • Publication
    Under pressure? The effect of peers on outcomes of young adults
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2010-05) ; ;
    A variety of public campaigns, including the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s and 1990s that encouraged teenagers to “Just Say No to Drugs”, are based on the premise that teenagers are very susceptible to peer influences. Despite this, very little is known about the effect of school peers on the long-run outcomes of teenagers. This is primarily due to two factors: the absence of information on peers merged with long-run outcomes of individuals and, equally important, the difficulty of separately identifying the role of peers. This paper uses data on the population of Norway and idiosyncratic variation in cohort composition within schools to examine the role of peer composition in 9th grade on longer-run outcomes such as IQ scores at age 18, teenage childbearing, post-compulsory schooling educational track, adult labor market status, and earnings. We find that outcomes are influenced by the proportion of females in the grade, and these effects differ for men and women. Other peer variables (average age, average mother’s education) have little impact on the outcomes of teenagers.
      664
  • Publication
    The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education
    (MIT Press Journals, Massachusets Institute, 2005-05) ; ;
    There is an extensive theoretical literature that postulates a trade-off between child quantity and quality within a family. However, there is little causal evidence that speaks to this theory. Using a rich data set on the entire population of Norway over an extended period of time, we examine the effects of family size and birth order on the educational attainment of children. We find a negative correlation between family size and children's education, but when we include indicators for birth order or use twin births as an instrument, family size effects become negligible. In addition, higher birth order has a significant and large negative effect on children's education. We also study adult earnings, employment, and teenage childbearing and find strong evidence for birth order effects with these outcomes, particularly among women. These findings suggest the need to revisit economic models of fertility and child "production," focusing not only on differences across families but differences within families as well.
      1866Scopus© Citations 708
  • Publication
    Why the apple doesn't fall far : understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital
    (American Economic Association, 2005-03) ; ;
    This paper examines the causal relationship between parents' education and that of their children in Norway. In 1959, the Norwegian Parliament legislated a mandatory school reform. In addition, the reform standardized the curriculum and increased access to schools, since the nine years of mandatory school was eventually made available in all municipalities. Cohorts of parents born between 1947 and 1958 were included in the sample. In the case of the Norwegian reform, the increase in compulsory schooling had a significant effect on educational attainment at the bottom of the distribution. The primary effect of the reform was to reduce the proportion of people with fewer than nine years of education from 12 percent to three percent, with a new spike at nine years. For mothers, there is a positive effect of maternal education on the education of sons but no such relationship for daughters. The results indicate that the positive correlation between parents' education and children's education largely represents positive relationships between other factors that are correlated with education. These could be ability, family background, income, or other factors. It is also clear, however, that the effect of the reform on children's educational attainment is small, with only the mother/son pair demonstrating any real relationship.
      1084Scopus© Citations 444
  • Publication
    The more the merrier? The effect of family composition on children's education
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2004-08) ; ;
    Among the perceived inputs in the “production” of child quality is family size; there is an extensive theoretical literature that postulates a tradeoff between child quantity and quality within a family. However, there is little causal evidence that speaks to this theory. Our analysis is able to overcome many limitations of the previous literature by using a rich dataset that contains information on the entire population of Norway over an extended period of time and allows us to match adult children to their parents and siblings. In addition, we use exogenous variation in family size induced by the birth of twins to isolate causation. Like most previous studies, we find a negative correlation between family size and children’s educational attainment. However, when we include indicators for birth order, the effect of family size becomes negligible. This finding is robust to the use of twin births as an instrument for family size. In addition, we find that birth order has a significant and large effect on children’s education; children born later in the family obtain less education. These findings suggest the need to revisit economic models of fertility and child “production”, focusing not only on differences across families but differences within families as well.
      381
  • Publication
    Small family, smart family? Family size and the IQ scores of young men
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2007-08) ; ;
    How do families influence the ability of children? Cognitive skills have been shown to be a strong predictor of educational attainment and future labor market success; as a result, understanding the determinants of cognitive skills can lead to a better understanding of children’s long run outcomes. This paper uses a large dataset on the male population of Norway and focuses on one family characteristic: the effect of family size on IQ. Because of the endogeneity of family size, we instrument for family size using twin births and sex composition. IV estimates using sex composition as an instrument show no negative effect of family size; however, IV estimates using twins imply that family size has a negative effect on IQ. Our results suggest that effect of family size depends on the type of family size intervention. We conclude that there are no important negative effects of expected increases in family size on IQ but that unexpected shocks to family size resulting from twin births have negative effects on the IQ of existing children.
      383
  • Publication
    Older and wiser? Birth order and IQ of young men
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2007-08) ; ;
    While recent research finds strong evidence that birth order affects children’s outcomes such as education and earnings, the evidence on the effects of birth order on IQ is decidedly mixed. This paper uses a large dataset on the population of Norway that allows us to precisely measure birth order effects on IQ using both cross-sectional and within-family methods. Importantly, irrespective of method, we find a strong and significant effect of birth order on IQ, and our results suggest that earlier born children have higher IQs. Our preferred estimates suggest differences between first-borns and second-borns of about one fifth of a standard deviation or approximately 3 IQ points. Despite these large average effects, birth order only explains about 3% of the within-family variance of IQ. When we control for birth endowments, the estimated birth order effects increase. Thus, our analysis suggests that birth order effects are not biologically determined. Also, there is no evidence that birth order effects occur because later-born children are more affected by family breakdown.
      768
  • Publication
    Why the apple doesn't fall far : understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2003-10) ; ;
    Parents with higher education levels have children with higher education levels. However, is this because parental education actually changes the outcomes of children, suggesting an important spillover of education policies, or is it merely that more able individuals who have higher education also have more able children? This paper proposes to answer this question by using a unique dataset from Norway. Using the reform of the education system that was implemented in different municipalities at different times in the 1960s as an instrument for parental education, we find little evidence of a causal relationship between parents’ education and children’s education, despite significant OLS relationships. We find 2SLS estimates that are consistently lower than the OLS estimates with the only statistically significant effect being a positive relationship between mother's education and son's education. These findings suggest that the high correlations between parents’ and children’s education are due primarily to family characteristics and inherited ability and not education spillovers.
      637
  • Publication
    Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2014-03) ; ;
    While much is now known about the effects of physical health shocks to pregnant women on the outcomes of the in-utero child, we know little about the effects of psychological stresses. One clear form of stress to the mother comes from the death of a parent. We examine the effects of the death of the mother's parent during pregnancy on both the short-run and the long-run outcomes of the infant. Our primary specification involves using mother fixed effects— comparing the outcomes of two children with the same mother but where a parent of the mother died during one of the pregnancies—augmented with a control for whether there is a death around the time of the pregnancy in order to isolate true causal effects of a bereavement during pregnancy. We find small negative effects on birth outcomes, and these effects are bigger for boys than for girls. The effects on birth outcomes seems to be driven by deaths due to cardiovascular causes suggesting that sudden deaths are more difficult to deal with. However, we find no evidence of adverse effects on adult outcomes. The results are robust to alternative specifications.
      410