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The Apple Falls Increasingly Far: Parent-Child Correlation in Schooling and the Growth of Post-Secondary Education in Switzerland


We analyze the completed highest education degree of four ten-year birth cohorts between 1934 and 1973 in Switzerland, using data from the Swiss Household Panel 1999–2004. As expected, the fraction of tertiary graduates has increased over time, for women more so than for men. Educational attainment is highly correlated with educational attainment of parents. We then decompose the overall trend into a parental background effect and a general expansion effect. For women in particular, we find that a substantial fraction of the overall increase in participation in tertiary education can be explained by the fact that the participation rates of women with lowly educated parents have increased. We furthermore explore the role of financial constraints in explaining these trends. Although the number of individuals suffering financial hardship during youth has declined over time, logit models suggest that financial problems might have become more important as an impediment for higher education.


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Correspondence to Rainer Winkelmann.

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We thank two anonymous referees for valuable comments.

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Cattaneo, A., Hanslin, S. & Winkelmann, R. The Apple Falls Increasingly Far: Parent-Child Correlation in Schooling and the Growth of Post-Secondary Education in Switzerland. Swiss J Economics Statistics 143, 133–152 (2007).

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  • Intergenerational mobility
  • tertiary education

JEL Classification

  • I21
  • J62