06 Nov @12:30

Demographic behaviour and the association between parents’ and children’s education

Speaker(s): John Ermisch

Date: 12:30 on Mon, 06 Nov 2017

Duration: 1.5 hours

Seminar Series: Lunchtime Seminars

Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building,Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ

Abstract: Many studies have found a strong association between a person’s educational attainment and the education of their mother, father, or both. In this paper we aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of the demographic pathways that mediate the association between parents’ and children’s educational attainment in Great Britain. We focus on maternal education and ask how much of the better educational outcomes enjoyed by children of highly educated women can be accounted for by the different demographic behaviour of higher compared with less highly educated women. The demographic characteristics we study are assortative mating (the extent to which a woman’s education is associated with the education of her partner), age at first birth, family size, and family stability. Our analysis of British intergenerational data constructed from the British Housheold Panel Study uncovered three important mediating mechanisms through which mother’s degree status influences the chances her child obtains a degree. The most important is assortative mating, but later age at first birth also accounts for some of the positive association between mother’s and child’s degree status. The higher probability of separation among degree women works in the opposite direction—it dampens the average positive association between mother’s and child’s degree status.

John Ermisch’s research is concerned with the structure and dynamics of families and their interaction with wider society. His recent research has studied the allocation of resources within the family, the transmission of advantage across generations, non-marital childbearing, the interaction of child support and non-resident fathers' contact with their children, the impact of family ties on trust in strangers and the effect of fertility expectations on residential mobility. Currently he is studying the geographic proximity of parents to children and the effect of family ties on residential mobility, as well as the intergenerational transmission of social status from a prospective point of view. He is co-investigator for the ESRC-supported project called Life Course and Family Dynamics in a Comparative Perspective. It is a cross-national study involving partners from China, the Netherlands and Germany as well as the UK. A primary objective is to compare the dynamics of changes over the life course at four key stages: child development and schooling; the transition to adulthood; security, insecurity and well- being in midlife; and intergenerational support in later life. In addition, an equally important aim of the project is the creation of a harmonised, documented longitudinal dataset for the four countries