The Jeffersons, the poster family of intergenerational mobility
There are a number of issues, that I feel Kenyans need to have articulated to them in a tangible and understandable manner. It is often the case that a great number of useful articles in economics are in the language of econometrics which is just Greek to most. A language where instead of calling an equation 'simple' they call it 'parsimonious'. I hope to be able to read through these articles and journals and share some of the important findings that they present.

My former econometrics professor Prof Nair once told me that if you can't measure it, you're just guessing, and I totally agree, if public policy is in question. I therefore try not to argue if I don't have the facts. The issue in question is one of intergenerational mobility. What this means is that does your parents education and prestige have an effect on your education and thus prestige?. Does the Kenyan dream exist, where one does what the Jeffersons did in the 70's and 80's, moved from their humble beginnings to the East side?.It is an important question to discuss. In a good society, there should be high levels of intergenerational mobility as people move on up, regardless of their background. So having defined it? how can we analyse it? To this we turn to what I would call Kenya's Chicago School. The University of Gothenburg, the training ground of Kenya's current Central Bank governor. If anyone is in doubt of his abilities and knowledge, I would request them to relax because I don't think there is anyone else in Kenya with such a deep understanding of Kenya's economy.

The Chicago School for Kenyan economists
However, back to the analysis, University of Gothenburg economist Anthony Wambugu, carried out a study in 2000, in which he surveyed 200 Kenyan manufacturing firms from Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret and around 800 of their employees. In the study he asked them about how far they went in terms of their schooling, their wage rate, their parents education, proximity to their school (when they were schooling) and years of tenure in that company. His aim was to find out if parents education and therefore by proxy family background had an effect on an individuals wages. Through sound but complex techniques he came up with findings that are against intergenerational mobility.

Firstly he found out that the higher the parents level of education, the more the years of education one is expected to complete. It is worth noting that a fathers level of education had more of an effect than a mothers level of education. Secondly, Mr. Wambugu found that an extra year of education post primary generated a 21% rise in income. To cap this statistics, it was also observed that a person who attended secondary school was likely to have a wage that is 67% higher than a person who did not. The effects of tertiary education are not explicitly stated, however in another paper, Mr. Wambugu finds that attending university had the biggest effect on distorting wage inequality. Therefore it is clear that a parents level of education has a clear effect on the number of years of education that a person completes. It is also clear that there are differences in the number of years of education and the wage rate that one is likely to receive.

Higher education leads to higher wages
The third issue is one directly related to a parents level of education and his/her child's earnings. The study found that when parent's level of education is controlled for i.e. held constant, the returns to education would fall by about 22%. Therefore, a parents level of education is likely to increase your returns to education by about 22%. However, the effect of family background goes beyond education. 40% of the workers sampled were found to have found their jobs through their family contacts. Thus the family effect also plays a hand in terms of contacts and connections.The wage differential due to parents education can be explained in a number of ways. The first reason is that higher education would lead to higher wages and therefore the parents can provide a more suitable environment from which to learn and grow. Secondly, a more prestigious background reduces job search costs, what this means is that a job seeker can have extended periods of unemployment as he has the luxury of waiting for the best job offer. Someone of a worse off background would have to take the first job that comes. The third reason is that the parents can sponsor the child to attain tertiary education and thus improve his/her wage prospects.

In conclusion, the effects of your parents education and by extension their wealth has a material effect on your level of education and by extension your earnings. Higher parents education leads to higher personal education and thus higher earnings. To augment these findings, in a 2002 essay Anthony Wambugu found that education reduced the chances of a persons employment in the agricultural and informal sectors, both notorious for their meager wages. For Kenya, there is thus very little intergenerational mobility as your parents education heavily affects your life prospects. Poverty is therefore a recurring theme across generations and it is very hard to make it out. There are of course, some exceptions but they are just exceptions and not the norm. In terms of public policy, Kenya has already taken a step in terms of free primary education, but as the article suggests the real differences come in terms of post primary and post secondary education. These two tiers are both marred in under enrolment and there is where the most effort needs to be put. Moving on up is therefore more of a dream, the Kenyan dream doesn't exist.