Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 509–523 | Cite as

Intergenerational Persistence of Skills and Socioeconomic Status

  • Raymundo M. Campos-VazquezEmail author
Original Paper


This paper describes how the socioeconomic status (SES) of parents relates to the formation and development of the skills and preferences of their teenage children, which have proven to be key to understanding differences in life outcomes. The study used data from a novel survey, conducted in Mexico, that recorded cognitive and non-cognitive skills and social preferences of both parents and children. It analyzed the relationship between the SES of parents and their children’s skills, and found that children’s skills were consistently related to parental skills, and that intergenerational persistence of skills was higher for cognitive than for non-cognitive skills or social preferences. It also found that the cognitive skills gap between the first and fifth quintile of SES was related mainly to characteristics like parents’ own skills, years of schooling, and aspirations for their children, but that these parental characteristics were less important in explaining non-cognitive skills and preferences.


Skills Preferences Intergenerational Persistence Socioeconomic status Mexico 



I am grateful for comments from Mariano Bosch, Isidro Soloaga, Sergio Urzua, and participants at the following conferences: “Skills: Measurements, Dynamics, and Effects,” hosted by the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association; “The Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status: Exposure, Heritability, and Opportunity,” organized by the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid; and the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America. I also wish to thank Cristobal Domínguez for excellent research assistance and two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their thoughtful comments and suggestions. Any errors or omissions are solely my responsibility.


This work was supported by the Sectorial Fund for Research on Social Development of the Mexican National Council on Science and Technology (CONACyT) and the Secretary of Social Development (SEDESOL) (Project No. 217909). The Espinosa Yglesias Research Center provided financing for a research assistant and a roundtable with academics to discuss the survey.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsEl Colegio de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico

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