Published June 2007
There is plenty of evidence across the EU to suggest that young people from poorer backgrounds are less likely to attend tertiary education than their better-off peers. This correlation is often used to justify monetary transfers to families with students. It is not clear, however, that these differences in attendance are caused by income itself rather than by parental ability, motivation, education, and other aspects of the young person’s experience which differ between families, but are not a direct result of income. Controlling for observable family characteristics is a useful first step. But further developments are needed as families potentially differ in unobservable ways that are correlated with both income and attendance. In this paper we use families with several children to correct for unobserved time-invariant family fixed effects. Our results suggest the absence of parental income effects in Belgium and Germany, small positive effects in Poland, medium-size positive effect in the UK, and sizeable positive effects in Hungary.