Childhood Family Structure and Schooling Outcomes: Evidence for Germany

Marco Francesconi, University of Essex
Stephen P. Jenkins, University of Essex
Thomas Siedler, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and University of Essex

We analyze the impact of growing up in a family headed by a lone mother on schooling outcomes using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. According to estimates from models that do not control for the possibility that family structure and educational performance share common unobserved determinants, growing up in a non-intact family is associated with worse outcomes. But once endogeneity is accounted for – whether by using estimators comparing siblings, or comparing children who experienced parental loss through death rather than divorce, or comparing children by whether their parents were exposed to a reform that made divorce easier – the evidence that family structure affects children’s schooling outcomes is much less conclusive. One exception concerns the probability of Gymnasium attendance at age 14 which is some 40 percent lower for West Germans who experienced life in a non-intact family during childhood. This result however is sensitive to the method used to account for family structure endogeneity.

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Presented in Session 174: Familial Influences on Children's Educational Outcomes