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Education and Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Purerto Rico

John Bluedorn and Elizabeth Cascio ()

No 2005-W21, Economics Papers from Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford

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 US. Census of Population for Puerto Rico, we first find that individuals on to 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 raise the probability that a child speaks English by between 4.3 and 4.5 percentage points, c 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 grad, On balance, these findings suggest that education is responsible at least in part for the persistence of human capital across generations.

Keywords: education; intergenerational mobility; natural experiment; hurricane (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 J62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2005-04-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-lab
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