Tuesday, 23 June 2020

The Strength of Weak Ties: Education Externalities and Intergenerational Mobility in Benin

WZB Talk (via Zoom)

by Leonard Wantchekon

We use historical micro-level data from the first regional schools in colonial Benin to estimate the effect of education on social mobility over three generations. Since school location and student cohorts were selected quasi-randomly, the effect of education can be estimated by comparing the treated to the untreated living in the same village as well as those from villages with no school (Wantchekon et al., 2015). We find positive treatment effects of education on social mobility across three generations. Surprisingly, the effect is strongest for descendants of grandparents who were exposed to education only through their social networks (the untreated living in villages with a school). We interpret this result as evidence of "the strength of weak ties" (Granovetter, 1977). Finally, exploring the underlying mechanism of our results, we find that mobility from the first to the second generation is driven by parental aspiration, which is sustained by the risk attitudes and mobility of the third generation. 

Please note that this event takes place in English only with no translation.

The event is part of the WZB Talks series.

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