Parental Unemployment: How Much and When Does It Matter for Children’s Educational Attainment?

Irma Mooi-Reci, University of Melbourne
Bart Bakker, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

This study examines the effect of parents’ involuntary unemployment on their children’s subsequent educational attainment by focusing on parents’ changing work ethics before and after unemployment. Integrating multiple survey and administrative data sources, our estimates are based on an intergenerational sample of Dutch children (n=812) who were exposed to their parents’ unemployment during the previous economic crisis in the early 1980s. Our results indicate that children’s educational attainment deteriorate exponentially with fathers’ duration in unemployment. In addition, we find that mothers’ changing attitudes towards work mediate to a large extent the father-offspring relationship. Our findings imply that children’s educational success is partly contingent upon mother’s ability to cope with her husband’s unemployment. Overall, our study shows the power of positive work ethics to bridge the intergenerational scars of unemployment while it supports the hypothesis that stability in the socioeconomic resources of the family is key for children’s later educational success.

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity