Intergenerational Transmission of Skills (ITS) research project

The Intergenerational Transmission of Skills (ITS) project has developed a unique and unparalleled database, linking skills of parents to skills of children. This database database (internally also referred to as the ‘Goldmine project’) currently provides information on some 25,000 parents and 41,000 of their children. In the future, this database will continue to expand with new data. The unique feature of the dataset is that skills of parents and their children were measured at the same age (both around age 12) and with the same test (a national test measuring proficiency in language and math skills). This linked dataset is enriched with extensive information on the grandparents, the parents, and the children. This makes the ITS database unique in the world.


  • Project members: Per Bles (ROA), D. Boomsma (VU), Roel Bosker (RUG), Tijana Breuer-Prokic (ROA), S. Bruins (VU), Carla Haelermans (ROA), Rick Hanushek (Hoover Institution, Stanford University), Tim Huijts (ROA), Babs Jacobs (ROA), Madelon Jacobs (ROA), Matthijs Kalmijn (NIDI), C.M. van der Laan (VU), Suzanne de Leeuw (ROA), Mark Levels (ROA), Olivier Marie (EUR/ROA), Guido Schwerdt (University of Konstanz), Melline Somers (ROA), Sabine van der Veer (ROA), Stan Vermeulen (ROA), Lynn van Vugt (ROA), Dinand Webbink (EUR), Herman van de Werfhorst (UvA), Sanne van Wetten (ROA), Simon Wiederhold (KU Eichstaett-Ingolstadt), Inge de Wolf (ROA).


    The dataset

    The foundation for the ITS database is provided by linking cohort survey data gathered in the 1970’s and 1980’s containing the skill measures of the parent generation, to register data available at Statistics Netherlands, in particular the NCO database (Nationaal Cohortonderzoek Onderwijs | Onderzoek) and the CITO database, which includes the skill measures of the children’s generation, children’s educational career and current characteristics of their parents. We gratefully acknowledge a data grant received from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO: grant 405-17-900) to construct the database. For more information on the dataset, see Jacobs, van der Velden, and Vermeulen (2021).

    The ITS dataset is available as micro dataset in the highly secure environment of Statistics Netherlands (in Dutch ’CBS’). For more information about the dataset and getting access, please visit the ITS dataset pages on the CBS and NCO websites.

    The project

    The ITS project has kickstarted with two inaugural papers. The first paper is a sociological analysis by Jacobs and van der Velden (2021). They estimate structural equation models to investigate the relative contribution of three mechanisms that underlie the intergenerational transmission of education from parents to children: parent’s key skills, parent’s soft skills, and parent’s financial resources. The second is an economic analysis by Hanushek, Jacobs, Schwerdt, Van der Velden, Vermeulen and Wiederhold (2021). They focus on identifying the causal impact of parental skills on children’s skills.

    The research group is currently working on follow-up projects. Papers are being prepared on:

    • School quality and the intergenerational transmission of skills.
    • Family shocks and the intergenerational transmission of skills.
    • Parental skills and children’s learning growth during primary education
    • Parental skills, children’s skills and early school leaving.
    • Intergenerational transmission of skills and intergenerational transmission of health status.
    • Intergenerational transmission of skills and intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour.

    The research group

    The ITS research group consists of a multidisciplinary team of sociologists and economists. In our program, we provide young researchers the opportunity to collaborate with senior researchers to learn and develop their skills. The title of our project thus also reflects our working philosophy, by explicitly aiming for interdisciplinary and intergenerational transmission of scientific skills.