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Your Peers’ Parents: Spillovers from Parental Education


Fruehwirth, Jane Cooley & Gagete-Miranda, Jessica (2019). Your Peers’ Parents: Spillovers from Parental Education. Economics of Education Review, 73, 101910.


Better-educated parents bestow significant advantages on their children in life; we explore whether this advantage multiplies, spilling over to classmates. Using a nationally-representative sample of US kindergarteners, we find significant effects of the parental education of classmates on math and reading, but not on socio-emotional skills. The effects are economically meaningful: reassigning classrooms so that all students have the same parental education composition would narrow the achievement gap between children of parents who are high-school-educated (or less) and those who are university-educated by 9 to 13 percent. These spillovers are not explained by rich, beginning of the school-year, measures of cognitive and socio-emotional skills, nor by race or socioeconomic status. Interestingly, not all spillovers from parental education are positive. In reading, we find that university-educated parents who are not working full-time create some negative spillovers for the classroom, which appear to come from their children’s relatively advanced reading skills.


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Journal Article

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Economics of Education Review


Fruehwirth, Jane Cooley
Gagete-Miranda, Jessica

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