Welcome to the website of the research project “Understanding Intergenerational Transmissions - A Cross-Disciplinary Approach” (UNITRAN). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no ERC-2012-STG-312906

The Aim of The UNITRAN Project

The aim of the UNITRAN project is to provide a better understanding of intergenerational transmissions. Although we know that children resemble their parents with regard to many socioeconomic outcomes, we have little understanding of why this is the case. Rooted in sociology, the UNITRAN project combines ideas from sociology and economics to provide a better approach to analyzing the causes and consequences of intergenerational transmissions. The project is innovative both theoretically and empirically. Theoretically, it combines formal models of intergenerational transmissions in economics with theories in sociology that conceptualize a wide range of family factors that might affect children’s outcomes. Empirically, it uses high-quality data and econometric methods to describe intergenerational associations and to estimate the causal effect of parental resources and behaviors on child outcomes.

Empirical Research Topics

The UNITRAN project provides new empirical evidence on several aspects of intergenerational transmissions:

  1. Cultural resources: Sociologists argue that cultural resources in the family of origin are important for children’s educational outcomes. Yet, there is little agreement on the mechanisms through which cultural resources operate and whether or not they are substantively important. The UNITRAN project develops a formal theoretical model of cultural capital investments and provides new empirical evidence on the causal effect of cultural resources on children’s educational outcomes.
  2. Educational aspirations: Sociologists and economists argue that educational aspirations shape educational outcomes. Yet, little is known about the transmission of aspirations over more than two generations. The UNITRAN project analyzes the potential multigenerational effects of educational aspirations on educational attainment and the extent to which aspirations account for persistence in outcomes across multiple generations.
  3. Extended family: Sociologists and economists now realize that intergenerational transmissions extend beyond parent-child relationships and also include extended family members. The UNITRAN project analyzes extended family members’ contributions to intergenerational transmissions via, for example, financial transfers, shared family environments, and social support.
  4. Parental investments and practices: There is agreement that parenting plays a key role in shaping child development and outcomes. The UNITRAN project provides new empirical evidence on two aspects of parenting. First, it analyzes how parents’ beliefs about the returns to investments in children affect resource allocation within the family. Second, it analyzes how cultural and material resources shape parenting practices, which in turn affect child outcomes.