Using nationally representative data in China, we find substantial positive partial correlations of both parents' education with one's wage. In addition, returns to father's education are higher in more monopsonistic and less meritocratic labor markets, including non-coastal regions, the state-owned sector, and the early periods of the reform era. The opposite is, however, true with respect to mother's education. Overall, the empirical evidence is consistent with the story that father's education mainly indicates family connections useful for locating a better-paying first job, while mother's education primarily captures unmeasured ability.
Parental education wages family connections unmeasured ability