Aspirations and Educational Poverty Traps Across Generations
This paper empirically tests whether there exists any 'aspirations failure' and poverty traps in education over generations drawing upon nationally representative household data in China. Causalities from parental aspirations to filial aspirations as well as to education are identified by using natural experiments since the 1950s based on instruments, such as parental sufferings during the Great Famine, their social class and experiences in the "(Up to the Mountains and) Down to the Countryside" movement during the Cultural Revolution, and filial in utero exposure to the Great Famine and compliance to the One-Child Policy. Matching the data for parents and children, we have found that aspirations and educational attainments are transmitted across generations, that is, parental aspiration causes filial aspiration, parental education positively affects filial education, and father's education, rather than mother's, raises filial aspiration. Historically, parental experience in political campaigns decreases their educational aspirations, and in utero exposure to severe undernutrition enhances fatalism. Aspirations failure in terms of less perceived importance of education in future life and fatalism that are transmitted from parents tends to decrease filial educational attainments, underlying intergenerational educational poverty traps.
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