, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 1-25

Do children from small families do better?

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The education, income, wealth and satisfaction with life of australians aged 25–54 are examined in relation to the circumstances of their childhood, paying particular attention to variation by number of siblings when growing up. The data are from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survery. Educational attainment, income earned and household wealth tend to be greater for people who grew up in relatively small families. The effect of the number of siblings on educational attainment is greater for females than for males. However the advantages of growing up in a smaller family do not translate into higher levels of satisfaction with life. The implications of the findings for the public debate on fertility and child-related benefits in Australia are discussed, as are the implications of a child-quality-child-quantity trade-off for the explanation of fertility levels in more developed countries.