Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Murat Iyigun

Second Advisor

Martin Boileau

Third Advisor

David Hekman


This thesis investigates the influence of economic conditions on parental attitudes and student performance using PISA and OECD data. In 2014, Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti published a paper theorizing that parenting styles emerge as equilibrium outcomes depending on both parental preferences and the economic environment (Doepke and Zilibotti, 2014). Their theory states that parents adopt more involved and overbearing parenting styles as the economic returns to student achievement rise. This thesis empirically tests Doepke and Zilibotti’s theory using the triennial PISA survey, and it further tests whether parenting styles directly influence student performance in math, science, and reading. My results support Doepke and Zilibotti’s theory by finding a positive relationship between the Wage Premium and Parental Dissatisfaction. I also find a negative relationship between Parental Dissatisfaction and Student Performance and a mixed relationship between the Wage Premium and Student Performance. The contribution of this thesis is empirical support for Doepke and Zilibotti’s theory and a creative and novel use of the PISA data.