Daniel Auer, Johannes Kunz, 10 May 2022

Existing research on the integration of refugees has focused on the impact on the refugees themselves. This column uses the random allocation of refugees in Switzerland to show how allocation has significant effects even on future generations. Compared to children of refugees allocated to regions with an unfamiliar language, the children of mothers allocated to a familiar language environment have a higher birth weight on average, which is a predictor of outcomes including educational attainment, income, and health later in life. 

Eric Hanushek, Babs Jacobs, Guido Schwerdt, Rolf van der Velden, Stan Vermeulen, Simon Wiederhold, 22 February 2022

Parents influence their children in many ways, but which family features actually cause the strong intergenerational linkages that we observe? This column presents the first causal evidence on cognitive skill transmission in the family. Using Dutch survey and registry data, the authors show that parents’ maths and language skills strongly affect the same skills in their children, and that skills within dynasties are not just genetically determined but are significantly affected by educational experiences. This highlights the importance of good educational environments in alleviating persistent inequalities.

Mette Foged, Linea Hasager, Giovanni Peri, 20 March 2021

The labour market integration of refugees and immigrants is key to their ability to contribute to the economy of the receiving country and to enhancing the fiscal sustainability of more open immigration policies. Using the quasi-random assignment of Danish refugees to language training, this column shows that language acquisition significantly increased the lifetime earnings of refugees. Refugees with language training became more likely to work in communication-intensive jobs and obtained additional education. The positive effects are transmitted to the next generation in terms of improved schooling outcomes for male children of refugees.

Eric Hanushek, Lavinia Kinne, Philipp Lergetporer, Ludger Woessmann, 02 August 2020

Differences in student achievement are strongly related to both future individual earnings and national economic growth. Cultural traits that underlie intertemporal decision-making may affect how much students learn. Using data for close to two million students across 49 countries during 2000–2018, this column looks at levels of patience and risk-taking and its effect on student performance. A positive effect of patience and a negative effect of risk-taking can account for two-thirds of the cross-country variation in student achievement. Among migrant students, patience and risk-taking levels of the students’ countries of origin had remarkably similar effects on educational performance in the host country.

Gérard Roland, David Yang, 05 August 2017

Studies have shown that there is strong inertia in culture because values and beliefs are formed through intergenerational transmission. Much less is known about how culture changes, and which aspects of the changes in values and beliefs are permanent or temporary. This column examines the effects of the Cultural Revolution in China on urban elites, and reveals that the lack of access to higher education affected people’s beliefs throughout their life. Also, while the ‘lost generation’ passed down their greater mistrust in the government to their children, their changed beliefs on the roles of effort versus luck were transmitted to a much lesser degree.

Caterina Alacevich, Alessandro Tarozzi, 23 April 2017

Data typically show that people become progressively taller as living standards improve. But despite impressive recent rates of economic growth, India remains one of the worst-performing countries in terms of height. Using data from Indian and English health surveys, this column reveals that, conditional on parents’ height, children of Indian ethnicity are on average taller when born and raised in England rather than in India. The results provide evidence against the importance of genetic factors in explaining the disappointing growth performance of Indian children.

Daniel Houser, John List, Marco Piovesan, Anya Samek, Joachim Winter, 23 February 2015

Dishonesty is a pervasive and costly phenomenon. This column reports the results of a lab experiment in which parents had an opportunity to behave dishonestly. Parents cheated the most when the prize was for their child and their child was not present. Parents cheated little when their child was present, but were more likely to cheat in front of sons than in front of daughters. The latter finding may help to explain why women attach greater importance to moral norms and are more honest.

Tom Hertz, Tamara Jayasundera, Patrizio Piraino, Sibel Selcuk, Nicole Smith, Alina Verashchagina, 26 July 2008

Across the globe, children of well-off parents are generally well off; the offspring of the downtrodden are usually downtrodden. But why? This column marshals new empirical evidence on the persistence of educational attainment and its role in intergenerational transmission of social economic status.

Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, David Huffman, Uwe Sunde, 05 July 2008

Departing from the practice of treating attitudes as a black box, economists are beginning to study the process through which attitudes are formed. New evidence shows that parents pass on risk and trust attitudes to their children, with important implications for understanding persistent differences in economic outcomes across and within countries.

Marco Cipriani, Paola Giuliano, Olivier Jeanne, 01 August 2007

Through an experimental game in which participants had incentives to reveal their true preferences, we show that, surprisingly, there is no intergenerational transmission of public-mindedness between parents and their children.

Marco Cipriani, Paola Giuliano, Olivier Jeanne, 01 August 2007

Through an experimental game in which participants had incentives to reveal their true preferences, we show that, surprisingly, there is no intergenerational transmission of public-mindedness between parents and their children.


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