Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do teachers make better parents? How teachers' children do better at school

My doctor used to have pictures of his kids on his surgery wall and it occurred to me, during a consultation, that they must be very healthy. Well that is what you would expect I think? One would expect them to have a healthy lifestyle and generally not to go short on medical care. It then occurred to me that, by a similar logic, one might expect the children of educators to do well at school. There might be a genetic link, of course. Educator-parents could offer practical help with tuition or perhaps just help imbue an appreciation of education. And in a world where information on school quality is very limited (Ireland being a particularly good example, alas) one would expect teachers to make better decisions about the choice of schools for their own kids: when you are in the business you know what’s what.

So I decided to investigate using PISA data which has detailed data on parents occupation and other relevant data. The resulting paper has just been published in Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies.

Do teachers make better parents? The differential performance of teachers children at school

This paper investigates whether teenagers are educationally advantaged if their parents are educators, using data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Great Britain and Ireland from 2000. Examining whether teachers’ children do better at tests of reading ability, the results show that children whose fathers teach at third level or whose mothers teach at second level do better. The paper also shows that teenagers are more likely to be helped with their schoolwork if their mothers are educators. The evidence tends to suggest that where teenagers benefit from a parent as a teacher it is through specific assistance from the mother and a more general effect from the father.

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