Education of Children and Differential Mortality of Parents: Do Parents Benefit from Their Children’s Attainments?

Esther M. Friedman, University of California, Los Angeles

Contemporary stratification research on developed societies usually views the intergenerational transmission of educational advantage as a one-way effect from parent to child. However, parents’ investment in their children’s education may yield significant returns for parents themselves in later life. Well-educated children have greater knowledge of health and technology to share with their parents and more financial means to provide for parents than do their less-educated counterparts. This paper considers the effects of children’s educational attainment on the survival of parents, net of parents’ own socioeconomic status. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine whether children’s educational attainment affects parents’ survival and how these effects compare with those of parents’ own income and wealth for survival. Preliminary results suggest that one’s own education, income and wealth are associated with mortality. More importantly, we also find that sons’ and daughters’ education have independent effects on parents’ mortality.

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Presented in Session 45: Family Influences on Socioeconomic Differentials in Health and Mortality