Education and Long Term Social Mobility in Benin
This paper uses a unique data set from quasi-randomly located colonial and Catholic missionary schools in colonial Benin to measure intergenerational mobility and its effects across three generations. Returns to human capital are first positive but then decline from the second to the third generation. This third-generation downward mobility is found to be associated with changes in the likelihood of being low-wage civil servants, greater aversion to risk-taking, weaker work ethics, and more negative life outlook. Overall, the paper provides an intergenerational and family-centric framework for the study of economic development, investments in human capital, and the behavioral capacity of individuals.
Leonard Wantchekon is professor of politics at Princeton University, where he is associated faculty in the Economics Department. His scholarship is deeply shaped and informed by his experiences and tribulations as a left-wing pro-democracy student activist under a repressive military regime in his native Benin...