A recent article in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility finds that having a lot of books in your house increases the amount of education your children will attain. The cross-national research was conducted by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikora, and Donald J. Treiman. Here is a Chronicle of Higher Education post on this piece and the abstract is as follows:
Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. This is as great an advantage as having university educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father. It holds equally in rich nations and in poor; in the past and in the present; under Communism, capitalism, and Apartheid; and most strongly in China. Data are from representative national samples in 27 nations, with over 70,000 cases, analyzed using multi-level linear and probit models with multiple imputation of missing data.
This isn’t all that surprising to me – though it is nice to see an effect even controlling for parental socio-economic status (SES). I couldn’t get past the gate to the article so assuming that this is all up to snuff methodologically.
Now assuming that more formal education is a good thing, this is basically, in my case, like telling a blow addict who cares about his kids that the presence of coke in the house will benefit his offspring: it will only serve to further an unhealthy addiction (in my case, one that has negative fiscal ramifications and health effects — breaking my back and threatening hernias every time I move). Just kidding.
This is great news that will assuage my conscience while surfing Amazon and help me effectively counter my wife every time she asks if we have enough books already. The downside is my kids might get a Ph.D.
But I still wonder what the causal path is as there might be a correlation without causation and I’d like some theory to explain how the IV causes the DV.