Are Returns to Mothers’ Human Capital Realized in the Next Generation? The Impact of Mother’s Schooling and Long-Run Nutritional Status on Child Human Capital in Guatemala

Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania
Alexis Murphy, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Agnes R. Quisumbing, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Usha Ramakrishnan, Emory University

This paper explores how estimates of the impact of both maternal schooling attainment and long-run nutritional status on child human capital are affected if both are treated as behaviorally determined, using an unusually rich longitudinal data set collected over 35 years in Guatemala. We find that OLS estimates for maternal schooling are likely to understate slightly the impact on grades of schooling relative to the age-cohort mean, but overstate substantially the magnitude and significance of the effect on being ever-schooled. OLS estimates for maternal height understate the causal impact of maternal long-run nutritional status on both anthropometric and schooling child outcomes. Thus, standard estimates may not only be misleading due to endogeneity of maternal human capital; they are also likely to understate the importance of long-run maternal nutritional status relative to maternal schooling attainment in determining child human capital.

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Presented in Session 141: Parental Influences on Child and Adult Health