Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 569–590 | Cite as

Sibling gender composition’s effect on education: evidence from China

  • Xiaoyan Lei
  • Yan Shen
  • James P. SmithEmail author
  • Guangsu Zhou
Original Paper


We use a population survey of the Chinese adult population—2010 Chinese Family Panel Studies (CFPS) modeled after the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We find that being the oldest child gives an education benefit to male and not female children who are often assigned supervisory roles for younger siblings. Most importantly, an increase in the fraction of female siblings leads to a significant increase in education of Chinese men and to a lesser extent Chinese women. This effect is concentrated among those with rural Hukou. In China, male children absorbed more education resources so that in a credit constrained family, increases in fraction of siblings who are sisters frees up resources for educating boys. This is less so for girls since their education was lower and additional resources would not be used for them.


Education Siblings China Gender composition 

JEL Classification

I20 I25 J16 J24 



This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG022481 and R37-AG025529) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 71490732 and 2016KEY02). The authors thank the editor and anonymous referees of this journal and recognize their help and guidance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyan Lei
    • 1
  • Yan Shen
    • 1
  • James P. Smith
    • 2
    Email author
  • Guangsu Zhou
    • 3
  1. 1.CCER, National School of DevelopmentPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.The RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.CICCE, School of EconomicsNankai UniversityTianjinChina

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