Child’s Age at Parental Death and University Education

Sanna Kailaheimo & Jani Erola

Losing a parent due to premature death has generally been found to be associated with negative outcomes in children. However, the study of possible (modifying) effects of the child´s age and family background have been neglected in previous research. In this paper, we analyse the relationship between the child’s age at parental death and the child’s university education, and we study whether the possible association is modified by the child’s family background. We apply ordinary least square regression and linear sibling fixed effect models to high-quality Finnish Census Panel data, consisting of 88,727 children born between 1982 and 1990. According to our results, the negative influence of parental death varies by the child’s age. The consequences of parental death for children of highly educated parents and for young children were the most adverse. Interestingly, parental income played only a limited role.

parental death, maternal death, paternal death, social inheritance, higher education, children

Published in European Societies