Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Economics

Advisor

Nuria Rodriguez-Planas

Advisor

Wim Vijverberg

Committee Members

Jonathan Conning

Roy Van der Weide

Subject Categories

Growth and Development | Income Distribution | Labor Economics | Regional Economics

Keywords

Educational intergenerational mobility, Geography, Latin America, Neighborhood effects, Chile, Socioeconomic mobility

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three chapters that investigate intergenerational mobility in education in Chile, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Chapter 1: In this chapter, I estimate intergenerational mobility (IGM) in education using data from 91 censuses that span 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over half a century. I measure upward mobility as the likelihood of obtaining at least a primary education for individuals whose parents did not finish primary school, whereas downward mobility as the likelihood of failing to complete primary education for individuals whose parents completed at least primary school. In addition, I explore the geography of educational IGM using nearly 400 “provinces” and more than 6,000 “districts”. I document wide cross-country and within-country heterogeneity. I document a declining trend in the mobility gap between urban and rural populations, and small differences by gender. Within countries, the level of mobility is highly correlated to the share of primary completion of the previous generation, which suggests a high level of inertia. In addition, upward (downward) mobility is negatively (positively) correlated to distance to the capital and the share of employment in agriculture, but positively (negatively) correlated to the share of employment in industry.

Chapter 2: In this chapter, I study whether the observed differences in intergenerational educational mobility across regions in Latin America and the Caribbean are due to the sorting of families or the effect of growing up in these different places. I exploit differences in the age of children at the time their families move across locations to isolate regional childhood exposure effects from sorting. I find a convergence rate of 3.5% per year of exposure between age 1 to 11, implying that children who move at the age of 1 would pick up 35% of the observed differences in mobility between origin and destination. These results are robust to using a specification that identifies the effect of place within households, the use of only anomalously high migration outflows, instrumenting the choice of destination with historical migration, and a combination of both approaches.

Chapter 3: In this chapter, I provide estimates of intergenerational mobility (IGM) in education at a disaggregated geographic level for Chile, a country with high school-level stratification by socioeconomic status and a decentralized administration of public schools. I document wide variation across communes. Relative mobility is correlated to the number of doctors, the number of students per teacher, and earnings inequality. Using a LASSO, I find that the share of students enrolled in public schools, the number of students per teacher, population density, and municipal budget are the strongest predictors of IGM. I also document within-country variability in how parental education affects other children’s outcomes.

The three papers further our understanding of intergenerational mobility in education in developing countries.

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