Numerous scholars stress that parents’ level of education has a tremendous impact on their children’s educational attainment, as the parents are the first role models and teachers. According to Gratz, children of parents with higher levels of education are more likely to receive tertiary education than people whose parents have lower levels of education. There are a variety of opinions about whether a person’s educational attainment is more closely related to that of his/her father’s or mother’s; still, more and more researchers stress that both parents have an important influence on their child’s education.
This blog post is based on data from the Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia survey carried out by CRRC-Georgia in April-May, 2014. The findings allow us to see whether parents’ and their children’s educational attainments are correlated.
The survey provides information on:
- Highest level of education completed by the respondent;
- Highest level of education completed by respondent’s mother;
- Highest level of education completed by respondent’s father;
- Respondent’s self-assessed proficiency in Russian and English languages, and;
- Respondent’s self-assessed proficiency in computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games).
For the analysis performed for this blog post, the data was not weighted.
In line with what earlier studies suggest, Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia survey data also show that a person’s mother’s and father’s levels of education are strongly correlated. At the same time, the levels of education of both the mother and father are only moderately correlated with that of the respondent. Still, respondents’ level of education is slightly more strongly correlated with the father’s level of education than the mother’s (see the table below). However, the correlation between the levels of education of the respondent and his/her mother or father weakens when we control for the level of education of another parent.
* The level of education is measured on an ordinal scale with values from 1 to 8 ( 1 – “No primary education,” 2 – “Primary education,” 3 – “Incomplete secondary education,” 4 – “Completed secondary education,” 5 – “Secondary technical education,” 6 – “Incomplete higher education,” 7 – “Completed higher education,” 8 – “PhD, Postdoc or a similar degree”). In order to come up with both parents’ combined level of education, codes for mother’s and father’s levels of education were summed (e.g., mother’s secondary technical education, code 5 and father’s completed secondary education, code 4 would add up to code 9 on the combined scale). This combined scale ranges from 2 to 16; the higher the resulting code, the higher the level of education of both parents taken together, and vice versa.
The chart below shows that when at least one of the parents has tertiary education, the respondent is statistically more likely to also have tertiary education compared to people with parents who do not have tertiary education. This is confirmed by results of a Kruskal-Wallis test.
* The original question on the highest level of education achieved by the respondent has been recoded. Answer options “No primary education”, “Primary education”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were combined into “Secondary or lower education.” Answer options “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education”, and “PhD, PostDoc or a similar degree” were combined into “Tertiary education”.
** The original variables on the highest level of education achieved by respondent’s mother and father were recoded into the variable “Parents’ education” covering all possible combinations of the parents’ level of education: (1) both parents have tertiary education; (2) both parents have secondary technical or lower education; (3) father has tertiary education, mother has secondary technical or lower education; (4) mother has tertiary education, father has secondary technical or lower education.
As for individuals’ self-assessed proficiency in foreign languages and computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games), more respondents whose parents have tertiary education report an advanced level of knowledge in these areas compared to those whose parents’ level of education is lower. Not surprisingly, the share reporting advanced knowledge of how to use computers is even higher when both parents have tertiary education compared to when only one parent has tertiary education. Interestingly, when only one parent has tertiary education, the level of knowledge of English is reported to be higher when it is the mother who has tertiary education, rather than the father. The Mann-Whitney test shows this difference is statistically significant.
Thus, the data shows that the levels of education of both parents are strongly correlated with each other, while respondent’s level of education is moderately correlated with that of each of his/her parents. The data shows that parents’ levels of education are most strongly correlated to the child’s when the mother’s and father’s levels of education are combined. The respondent’s level of education tends to be higher when at least one of the parents, no matter whether it is the mother or the father, has tertiary education. The same is true about self-reported level of knowledge of foreign languages (English and Russian) and computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games). Those whose mothers have tertiary education report better knowledge of English.
For more information about parents’ level of education and their child’s occupation, take a look at these earlier blog posts: A taxi driver’s tale, Part 1 and Part 2. Also, check out our Online Data Analysis tool.