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Industrial Composition and Educational Intergenerational Mobility


Using the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY), this article examines the influence of a region’s industrial composition on the educational attainment of children raised by parents who do not have college degrees. The NLSY’s geo-coded panel allows for precise measurements of the local industries that shaped the parents’ employment opportunities and the labor market that the children directly observed. For cohorts finishing school in the 1990s and early 2000s, concentrations of manufacturing are positively associated with both high school and college attainment. Concentrations of college-degree intensive industries are positively associated with college attainment. I investigate several potential mechanisms that could relate the industrial composition to educational attainment, including returns to education, opportunity costs, parental inputs, community resources, and information.

JEL codes: E24, J24, O14, R11.
Keywords: Industrial Composition, Intergenerational Mobility, Educational Attainment.


Suggested citation: Whitaker, Stephan, 2020. “Industrial Composition and Educational Intergenerational Mobility,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper no. 15-33R. https://doi.org/10.26509/frbc-wp-201533R.

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