The heterogeneous effects of parental unemployment on siblings’ educational outcomes

Authors: Hannu Lehti, Jani Erola, Aleksi Karhula,
Issue: 2021
Themes: ,
Link to Publication (External Site)

This study looks at the long-term effects of parental unemployment on children’s education. It finds that while there are negative impacts if the unemployment is during adolescence, there are, on average, none if it happens in early childhood.

The researchers used data based on a 10 per cent sample of the adult population of Finland, looking at the children boron to those adults between 1986 and 1997. The children were followed, where possible, until 2014 to see whether their education was affected by parental spells of unemployment. The final sample covered 113,000 people in 79,000 families.

Children’s grades, and their transitions into secondary and post-school education at 18 were measured, and parental unemployment was found to have a negative effect on all three.

The study concludes that income is not the main driver of this effect, but that the experience of unemployment in the family has a negative effect on decisions made by young people. Better counselling and information in schools could help.