That getting a college education is associated with improved prospects not only for oneself, but for one’s children, is well-established. The children of better-educated parents are less likely to be exposed to poverty and tend to be healthier, to have higher self-esteem, and to do better in school themselves (Attewell & Lavin 2007; Roksa & Potter 2011). Most studies which investigate parental education effects take the child as their unit of analysis and presume a parent’s education to be a fixed background characteristic of that child. However, many parents return to school in order to increase their level of educational attainment during their children’s lifetimes. It may be presumed that such parental efforts positively impact their children; and indeed adults who return to college often state that one of their motivations for so doing is to better serve as an educational role model to their children (Author, forthcoming). However, the impact of parental educational upgrading has itself rarely been investigated (for exceptions, see e.g. Domina & Roksa 2011). In this study, I will draw on data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY-79 and NLSY-79 Children and Young Adults) to determine the impacts of maternal educational upgrading on children’s cognitive scores, academic progress, and other outcomes. I will make use of fixed-effects and marginal structural models in order to investigate these time-varying effects. Finally, I will investigate whether any positive impacts appear to be the direct result of educational attainment itself or, rather, to be an indirect of educational upgrading acting through improved household incomes or maternal marital status.
Attewell, P., & Lavin, D. (2007). Passing the torch: Does higher education for the disadvantaged pay off across the generations?. Russell Sage Foundation.
Domina, T., & Roksa, J. (2012). Should Mom go back to school? Post-natal educational attainment and parenting practices. Social science research, 41(3), 695-708.
Roksa, J., & Potter, D. (2011). Parenting and Academic Achievement Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Advantage. Sociology of Education, 84(4), 299-321.