February 2012

IZA DP No. 6386: Books Are Forever: Early Life Conditions, Education and Lifetime Income

Giorgio Brunello, Guglielmo Weber, Christoph T. Weiss

published in: The Economic Journal, 2017

In this paper we estimate the effect of education on lifetime earnings in Europe, by distinguishing between individuals who lived in rural or urban areas during childhood and between individuals who had access to many or few books at age ten. We instrument years of education using reforms of compulsory education in nine different countries, and find that individuals in rural areas were most affected by the reforms while individuals with many books at home mostly benefited from education. Our main result is that books at home at age ten have had long-lasting beneficial effects on the individuals who were pushed by the reforms to increase their years of education.