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Intergenerational Transmission of Education and Mediating Channels: Evidence from a Compulsory Schooling Reform in Germany


  • Marc Piopiunik

    1. Ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, Munich, Germany
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    • I thank Francesco Cinnirella, Oliver Falck, Elke Lüdemann, Martin Schlotter, Guido Schwerdt, Till von Wachter, Joachim Winter, Ludger Woessmann, and two anonymous referees, as well as participants at the ESPE 2010 in Essen and at the EEA 2010 in Glasgow, for their valuable comments and suggestions.


In this paper, I estimate the causal effect that an additional year of schooling for parents has on their children's education, by exploiting a compulsory schooling reform that was implemented in all West German states between 1946 and 1969. Although previous research indicates that the reform had no effect on earnings, I find that an additional year of schooling for women strongly affects the education of their sons. There is no effect for the other parent–child gender pairs. I investigate numerous channels that might mediate the positive effect of the education of mothers. Most importantly, I find that individuals with more schooling value their children's educational success as more important.