Elite Higher Education, the Marriage Market and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital

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Date and Time: 
Monday, November 16, 2015
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Katja Maria Kaufmann
University of Mannheim

We use administrative records on university applicants, their spouses and their children to estimate the marriage market and intergenerational e ects of being admitted to a more elite university program, i.e. a program that is both objectively more selective and subjectively more preferred by the applicant. We exploit unique features of the Chilean university admission system which centrally allocates applicants based on university entrance scores to identify causal e effects using a regression discontinuity design. Moreover, the Chilean context provides us with the necessary data on (completed) marriage and fertility decisions and with measures of spouse and child quality. We investigate the effects of admission to a more elite program on three sets of outcomes. First, we find that it does not a effects the likelihood of marriage or of having a child. Second, being admitted to a higher ranked program has substantial e effects on spouse quality, but only for female applicants. Their husbands perform 0.2 standard deviations better on the admission test and are 10 p.p. more likely to have been admitted to a top university. Also, females are more likely to have husbands whose mother is college educated and working (by 12 p.p.), and whose fathers are in high ranked occupations (by 21 p.p.). Third, children of both male and female applicants admitted to a more elite program perform 0.1 standard deviations better on a national standardized test. Making use of data on child investment, our results suggest important resource effects for men, while for women results are consistent with genetic endowment effects.