Parental occupation and children’s school outcomes in math

Seminar Series - Doctoral School of Social Sciences

13 December 2018
Versione stampabile

2 PM

Venue: Aula Kessler, Sociology Building, via Verdi 26 Trento




We study the relationship between math attitude and students math scores using data obtained
from PISA 2012 and a 2SLS model. Math attitude is approximated by three subjective measures:
parental attitude, student instrumental motivation and student math anxiety. The presence
of one family member in a math-related career is our instrumental variable. Our working
hypothesis is that parents may ease their children’s approach to math through three channels.
First, parents who are in a math-related career may assert that math is important in terms of
placement in the job market (parental attitude). Second, parents who are in a math-related
career might succeed in transmitting this belief, so that the children - if asked- would assert
that math is an instrument to find a good job (student instrumental motivation). Third, the fact
that parents might appear to be more self-confident and relaxed about math when working in a
math-related career, might help reduce math anxiety in their children (math anxiety). We find
that regardless of the proxy that is used for math attitude, an increase of one standard deviation
increases the student score by at least 40 points, the equivalent of one year of schooling.

Parental attitude toward math, Student instrumental motivation, Math anxiety, Math-related
career, Math scores

The paper is co-authored with Chiara Rapallini (IZA, Germany)

EM and SRS second year students will be awarded the “Certificate of Advanced Studies" in Economics and Management and in Sociology and Social Research.