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Following in Your Parents’ Footsteps? Empirical Analysis of Matched Parent–Offspring Test Scores


  • The authors are grateful to the Data Archive, University of Essex, for supplying the National Child Development Study data. They are also grateful to Arnaud Chevalier, Steve Machin and Ian Walker, plus conference participants at the Work, Pensions and Labour Economics Study Group (WPEG) Annual Conference in Sheffield (2008) and at the European Association of Labour Economists Annual Conference in Amsterdam (2008), and to two anonymous referees of this journal, for valuable comments. The normal disclaimer applies.


In this article, we explore whether an intergenerational relationship exists between the reading and mathematics test scores, taken at age 7, of a cohort of individuals born in 1958 and the equivalent test scores of their offspring measured in 1991. Our results suggest that how the parent performs in reading and mathematics during their childhood is positively related to the corresponding test scores of their offspring as measured at a similar age. The results further suggest that the effect of upbringing is mainly responsible for the intergenerational relationship in literacy, although genetic effects seem more relevant with respect to numeracy.