Does Parents' Education Matter for Children's Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Germany

Marc Piopiunik
Ifo Institute, Germany

Children of low-educated parents tend to end up with low education as well. If parental education has a causal effect on child's education, then improving parents' education might be one possibility to improve the educational success of low-ability children. This paper exploits compulsory schooling reforms that affected low-ability students and were implemented in all West German states between 1946 and 1969. This provides both regional and time-series variation in the amount of required schooling to identify causal effects of an additional year of parents' schooling on their children's education in a differences-in-difference framework. I find that mother's education affects the education of her son but not of her daughter, and that father's education seems to have no effect on his children's education. Concerning policy implications, the findings suggest that one way to improve the educational outcome of low-ability children is to focus on future mothers in their youth by
improving their education before they give birth.

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