Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 121–148 | Cite as

Heterogeneity in the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: evidence from Switzerland on natives and second-generation immigrants

Original Paper


This study applies rich data from the 2000 Swiss census to investigate the patterns of intergenerational education transmission for natives and second-generation immigrants. The level of secondary schooling attained by youth aged 17 is related to their parents’ educational outcomes based on data on the entire Swiss population. Extending economic theories of child educational attainment, we derive hypotheses regarding the patterns of intergenerational education transmission. The data yield substantial heterogeneity in intergenerational transmission across population groups. Only a small share of this heterogeneity is explained by the predictions of economic theory.


Intergenerational transmission Educational attainment Second generation Immigrants 

JEL Classification

I21 J61 



We acknowledge the financial support from the Swiss Nation Science Foundations NRP 52 “Childhood, Youth, and Intergenerational Relationships” grant. We thank Holger Bonin, Axel Engellandt, Horst Entorf, George Sheldon, two anonymous referees, and the participants of the IZA AM2 meeting 2004 and the ZEW Education meeting 2005 for helpful comments on earlier versions, and we thank Reto Scherrer for excellent research assistance.


  1. Amos J, Böni E, Donati M, Hupka S, Meyer T, Stalder BE (2003) Wege in die nachobligatorische Ausbildung. Die ersten zwei Jahre nach Austritt aus der obligatorischen Schule Zwischenergebnisse des Jugendlängsschnitts TREE, Bildungsmonitoring Schweiz, Bundesamt für Statistik, NeuchâtelGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauer P, Riphahn RT (2005) Timing of school tracking as a determinant of intergenerational transmission of education. Mimeo, University of BaselGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker GS, Lewis HG (1973) On the interaction between quantity and quality of children. J Polit Econ 81(2, Part 2):S279–S288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belzil C, Hansen J (2003) Structural estimates of the intergenerational education correlation. J Appl Econ 18(6):679–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Björklund A, Lindahl M, Plug E (2004) Intergenerational effects in Sweden: what can we learn from adoption data?, Discussion paper No. 1194. IZAGoogle Scholar
  6. Black S, Devereux P, Salvanes KG (2005) The more the merrier? the effect of family composition on children’s education. Q J Econ 120(2):669–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borjas GJ (1992) Ethnic capital and intergenerational mobility. Q J Econ 107(1):123–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borjas GJ (1993) The intergenerational mobility of immigrants. J Labor Econ 11(1, pt.1):113–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Borjas GJ (1995) Ethnicity, neighborhoods, and human-capital externalities. Am Econ Rev 85(3):365–390Google Scholar
  10. Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS) (1988) Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 1988. Verlag Neue Züricher Zeitung, ZürichGoogle Scholar
  11. Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS) (1997) Die Raumgliederung der Schweiz. Mimeo, BFS, NeuchatelGoogle Scholar
  12. Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS) (2004a) Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 2004. Verlag Neue Züricher Zeitung, ZürichGoogle Scholar
  13. Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS) (2004b) Pressemitteilung: Vermehrte Zuwanderung hochqualifizierter Arbeitskräfte. BFS, NeuchâtelGoogle Scholar
  14. Card D, DiNardo J, Estes E (2000) The more things change: immigrants and the children of immigrants in the 1940s, the 1970s, and the 1990s. In: Borjas GC (ed) Issues in the economics of immigration. University of Chicago Press, Chicago London, pp 227–269Google Scholar
  15. Chiswick BR (1988) Differences in education and earnings across racial and ethnic groups: tastes, discrimination, and investments in child quality. Q J Econ 103(3):571–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coleman JS (1988) Social capital in the creation of human capital. Am J Sociol 94(supplement):S95–S120Google Scholar
  17. Corak M, Lipps G, Zhao J (2004) Family income and participation in post-secondary education, IZA Discussion Paper No. 977, BonnGoogle Scholar
  18. Hupka S (2003) Ausbildungssituation und-verläufe: Übersicht. In: Amos J et al (eds) Wege in die nachobligatorische Ausbildung. Die ersten zwei Jahre nach Austritt aus der obligatorischen Schule Zwischenergebnisse des Jugendlängsschnitts TREE, Bildungsmonitoring Schweiz, Bundesamt für Statistik, Neuchâtel, pp. 33–58Google Scholar
  19. Machin SJ (2004) Education systems and intergenerational mobility, paper presented at the CESifo/PEPG Conference on schooling and human capital formation in the global economy, September 2004, MunichGoogle Scholar
  20. Moser U, Berweger S (2005) Soziale Herkunft und Mathematikleistung: Ein vertiefter Blick auf die Kantone. In: Zahner Rossier Claudia (ed) PISA 2003: Kompetenzen für die Zukunft. Zweiter nationaler Bericht, Neuchatel/BernGoogle Scholar
  21. OECD (2002) Education at a Glance. OECD Indicators 2002. OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  22. OECD (2004) Trends in international migration. Continuous reporting system on migration: annual report (SOPEMI). OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Plug E (2004) Estimating the effect of mother’s schooling on children’s schooling using a sample of adoptees. Am Econ Rev 94(1):358–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Woessmann L (2004) How equal are educational opportunities? family background and student achievement in Europe and the United States, CESifo Working Paper No. 1162, MunichGoogle Scholar
  25. Wolter SC, Coradi Vellacott M (2002) Sibling rivalry: a look at Switzerland with PISA Data, IZA Discussion Paper No. 594, BonnGoogle Scholar
  26. Zahner Rossler C (2005) PISA 2003: Kompetenzen für die Zukunft, Zweiter nationaler Bericht. Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS), NeuchâtelGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WWZ, University of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.WISO, University of ErlangenNurembergGermany

Personalised recommendations