Does Children’s Education Matter for Parents’ Health and Cognition in Old Age?

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Event Type: 
Brown Bag
Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 9, 2017
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Mingming Ma
Econ, USC

 Intergenerational transmission of human capital from parents to offspring has been widely documented. However, whether there are also upward spillovers from children to parents remains understudied. This paper uses data from China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study to estimate the causal impact of educational attainments of the highest educated adult children on various health and cognition outcomes of older adults. Identification is achieved by using the exposure of adult children to the compulsory education reform around 1986 in China and its interaction with enforcement intensity as instruments for children’s years of schooling. IV estimation results demonstrate that increasing years of education of adult children lead to higher level of cognitive functions of older adults. Parents with better educated children also have greater body weight, higher subjective survival expectations and better lung function. Dynamic model results using the follow-up data indicate positive and significant incremental effects of children’s education on cognitive abilities of older adults when baseline cognition is controlled for. Further evidence suggests that adult children’s education might shape parental health in old age through providing social support, affecting parental access to resources as well as influencing parental labor supply and psychological well-being