Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Why Children of College Graduates Outperform their Schoolmates: A Study of Cousins and Adoptees

By Torbjørn Haegeland, Lars Johannessen Kirkebøen, Oddbjørn Raaum and Kjell G. Salvanes


Massive cross-sectional evidence exists indicating that children of more educated parents outperform their schoolmates. However, evidence for causal interpretation of this association is weak. We examine a causal relationship using two approaches for identification within the same data: cousins with twin parents and adopted children. We find no effect of mothers' education on children's school performance using the children-of-twins approach. However, for adopted children, mother's education has a small positive effect. Tracking the work experience of parents during offspring childhood, we find no support that this effect can be explained by a higher labor force participation among more educated mothers.intergenerational mobility, education, twin parents, adoptees

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2009). A Flying Start or no effect? Long Term Consequences of Time Investment in Children during their first Year of Life, Mimeo, Norwegian School of Economics.
  2. and E.Maurin (2008), Vive la Revolution! Long-term Educational Returns of 1968 to the Angry Students,
  3. and E.Plug (2008), The Causal Effect of Parent’s Schooling on Children’s Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods,
  4. (2002). and L.Westlie (2008), More than Genes: Intergenerational schooling Transmission in adopting families,
  5. (1999). Biases in Twin Estimates of the Return to Schooling,
  6. (2009). Decomposing the Changing Returns to Schooling by Explaining Twin Differences, The Danish National Centre for Social Research Working Paper 076:2009.
  7. (2005). Diary versus Questionnaire Information on Time Spent on time spent on housework - The Case of Norway,
  8. (2005). Do Educated Women Make Bad Mothers? Twin Studies and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital,
  9. (2003). Does Early Maternal Employment Harm Child Development? An Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Leave Taking,
  10. (2006). Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling,
  11. (2002). Does Increasing Women’s Schooling Raise
  12. (1999). Double Trouble: On the Value of Twins-Based Estimation of the Returns to Schooling,
  13. (1994). Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins,
  14. (2004). Estimating the Effect of Mother’s Schooling on Children’s Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees,.
  15. (2006). Father’s Education and Children’s Human Capital: Evidence from the World War II GI Bill, Working Paper 06-33, UC Davies.
  16. (2007). From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes,.
  17. (2008). How Do Parents Allocate Time? The Effects of Wages and Income, IZA Discussion Papers 3679.
  18. (2007). How Large are the Effects from Changes in Family Environment?
  19. (2003). Human Capital Policies,
  20. (2007). Marital Sorting, Household Labor Supply, and Intergenerational Earnings Mobility across Countries, The B.E.
  21. (1997). Mothers Schooling and Child Education: A Survey,
  22. (2008). Parental Education and Parental Time with Children,
  23. (2009). Parental schooling and child development: Learning from twin Twin Parents, The Danish National Centre for Social Research Working Paper 07:2009.
  24. Returns to Birthweight,
  25. (1997). S.Machin and H.Reed
  26. (2005). The children of twins design,
  27. (1995). The Determinants of Children Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings,
  28. (2008). The Effect of Expansions
  29. (2006). The Neighbourhood is not what it used to be,
  30. (2006). The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data,
  31. (2007). The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children,
  32. (2006). What Children Need.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.