Educational Mobility in Three Generations: Single Parent and Grandparent Effect

Xi Song, University of California, Los Angeles

This study examines the educational reproduction of American families in multiple generations. The key question is how grandparents’ education contributes to the educational success of grandchildren, and how the grandparent’s effect differs for single- and two-parent families. The grandparent effect works through both demographic and mobility processes, because grandparents’ education first affects whether parents have any children and how many children they have, before grandparents proceed to influence the educational mobility of their grandchildren. Analyses build upon the mobility and demography model used in Mare and Song (2012), and draw on empirical evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Recent researchers and policymakers alike have expressed a growing concern that single-parent family is responsible for the growth of an “undereducated class” in America. This study investigates whether or not grandparent effect contributes to the growth of the undereducated class from single-parent families in the grandchild generation.

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Presented in Session 160: Multi-Generational Effects on Economic and Education Outcomes