The Generational Boundaries of Educational Advantage: Does Great-Grandparent Education Predict Great-Grandchild Early Academic Achievement?
Megan Evans1, Jonathan Daw1, S. Michael Gaddis
1Pennsylvania State University

Across how many generations do elders’ educational advantages directly benefit their descendants? A long history of stratification research thought the answer to this question was one – that benefits from grandparents and earlier generations are entirely mediated through intervening generations. The last decade of stratification research has upended this Markovian assumption, but it remains unclear how far back direct intergenerational education effects operate, most inquiries limited to two or three generations. In this paper, we employ four generations of family data from the PSID to examine the association of great-grandparental educational attainment with the early academic achievement of their great-grandchildren, net of intervening generations’ education attainments. We find that great-grandparent effects on great-grandchild early academic achievement are non-linear, modest, and entirely accounted for by the educational attainment of intervening generations and great-grandchild demographic characteristics, suggesting that direct intergenerational advantage transmission is limited to three generations in these data.