Childhood circumstances and the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status

Demography. 2012 Aug;49(3):913-38. doi: 10.1007/s13524-012-0120-1.


A large literature has documented the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status (SES). However, the mechanisms by which SES transmits across generations are still little understood. This article investigates whether characteristics determined in childhood play an important role in the intergenerational transmission. Using data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, I document the extent to which childhood human capital accounts for the intergenerational SES correlation. My results imply that childhood health and nutrition, cognitive and noncognitive abilities, and early schooling account for between one-third and one-half of the relationship between parents' SES and their offspring's SES.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Diet*
  • Family*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Socioeconomic Factors