Theses Doctoral

Three Essays on How Parents and Schools Affect Offspring’s Outcomes

Shen, Menghan

There are many ways parents can improve their offspring’s outcomes. For example, they can invest in offspring’s education or health. They can provide better social connections to obtain job information or personal references. In addition, they can exert political influence to obtain better labor market outcomes for their offspring.
Understanding exactly how parents improve their offspring’s outcomes is very important for the formation of political perspectives and policy designs. However, it is very difficult to disentangle the factors, as parents of high socioeconomic status do many things to help their children succeed. This dissertation presents three quasi-experimental studies to understand the causal mechanisms of parents’ influence on children’s outcomes in the context of China and United States.
Chapter two examines the implementation of court-ordered racial desegregation of schools and finds that school desegregation increases biracial births. This provides the first evidence of how an education policy that affects racial integration also has demographic implications and an intergenerational impact on social and economic opportunities.
Chapter three examines the effect of school desegregation on infant health. This chapter adopts the same empirical strategy and data as chapter three. I extend the paper by examining the effect of school desegregation on infant health. I find that for black mothers, school desegregation improves infant health, as measured by preterm birth. It also increases maternal education and fertility age. These may be important pathways to improve infant health. Chapter two and chapter three add to the growing literature on the impact of school desegregation beyond academic achievement.
Chapter five examines the effect of fathers’ political influence on offspring’s labor market outcomes in China. It presents a difference-in-difference approach that exploits the variation of political influence in three dimensions: parent bureaucrat occupation, retirement status instrumented by retirement policy, and offspring gender. Using cross-section data from China Household Income Survey, it finds that the retirement of a bureaucrat with political influence translates into a decrease in offspring’s income of 13 percent.
Chapter six provides a summary and conclusions and discusses future research directions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Economics and Education
Thesis Advisors
Levin, Henry M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 27, 2016