Does teaching run in families?

A recent study by Alberto Jacinto and Seth Gershenson explores the degree to which the teaching profession runs across generations in families.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey on Youth and the Child and Young Adults Supplement, the researchers found that children whose mothers were teachers were nine percentage points more likely to become teachers than children whose mothers were not teachers. The effect appeared among both sons and daughters, although it appeared stronger among daughters. The transmission rate was greatest among Latinx mother-child pairs and weakest among Black pairs. When race and sex are combined, the likelihood of children becoming teachers appeared to be about the same for White sons and daughters and Black daughters, but lowest for Black sons. However, Latinx daughters of teacher mothers showed the highest likelihood of becoming teachers.

The data on fathers was more limited but it showed that having a father who was a teacher might have an even greater influence than having a mother in the profession, particularly among sons. There was small increase in transmission rates when both parents were teachers, but the difference between two teaching parents and teaching mothers was not statistically significant.

These transmission rates were higher than in similar professions, such as counseling, social work, and nursing. The authors note that these findings could partially explain the under-representation of Black males in the teaching workforce, and they recommend further study of the reasons children of teachers are more likely to become teachers and whether they are more likely to be effective teachers.

Source: Jacinto, A. & Gershenson, S. (2019). The intergenerational transmission of teaching. Bonn, Germany: Institute of Labor Economics.



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