Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Attainment

Intergenerational transmission of education from parents to children has been investigated extensively, and the parent-child correlation of schooling is about .46 in the US. a high intergenerational persistence of educational attainment is not only an indicator of educational inequality but also a barrier to equal opportunities in the labor market and beyond. This study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to generate a sample of two cohorts of white children (’84 and ’94 cohorts), and examines whether intergenerational transmission of education varies by household economic resources, especially household assets. Results show that, in the ’94 cohort, financial assets increase the parent-child association of schooling for male children, but decrease the parent-child association for female children. In addition, financial assets and net worth have a negative interaction effect with parental education on female child’s educational attainment as measured by college completion. Research and policy implications of the findings are discussed.

The paper was presented during the Assets and Education Symposium, a March 2012 conference cosponsored by the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and CSD. The symposium was convened to explore the role of savings and asset holding in post-secondary educational achievement. Many of the original conference papers are accessible in the center’s online collection and were subsequently developed for publication in Assets and Educational Attainment: Theory and Evidence, a special issue of Economics of Education Review.

Subsequent publication: Huang, J. (2013). Intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: The role of household assets. Economics of Education Review, 33, 112–123.

Project: College Success


Huang, J. (2012). Intergenerational transmission of educational attainment (CSD Working Paper No. 12-18). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.