Birth order matters: the effect of family size and birth order on educational attainment
- 3.6k Downloads
Using the British Household Panel Survey, we investigate if family size and birth order affect children’s subsequent educational attainment. Theory suggests a trade-off between child quantity and “quality” and that siblings are unlikely to receive equal shares of parental resources devoted to children’s education. We construct a new birth order index that effectively purges family size from birth order and use this to test if siblings are assigned equal shares in the family’s educational resources. We find that the shares are decreasing with birth order. Ceteris paribus, children from larger families have less education, and the family size effect does not vanish when we control for birth order. These findings are robust to numerous specification checks.
KeywordsFamily size Birth order Education
JEL ClassificationI2 J1
We are grateful to Tim Hatton for very helpful discussions, and to the Editor Alessandro Cigno, two anonymous referees, John Ermisch, Paul Miller and seminar participants at the Australian National University and Melbourne University for their comments. We also thank Margi Wood and Jeta Vedi for data assistance. The data were made available through the UK Data Archive and were originally collected by the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change at the University of Essex, now incorporated within the Institute for Social and Economic Research. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Archive bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. Part of this research was funded by the ARC under Discovery Project Grant No. DP0556740.
- Becker GS (1960) An economic analysis of fertility. In: Becker GS (ed) Demographic and economic change in developed countries. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
- Birdsall N (1991) Birth order effects and time allocation. In: Schultz TP (ed) Research in population economics: a research annual. JAI Press, Greenwich, pp 191–213Google Scholar
- Bjorklund A, Eriksson T, Jantti M, Raaum O, Osterbacka E (2004) Family structure and labor market success: the influence of siblings and birth order on the earnings of young adults in Norway, Finland and Sweden. In: Miles Corak (ed) Generational income mobility in North America and Europe, Chapter 9. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Booth AL, Kee H-J (2006) Intergenerational transmission of fertility patterns in Britain. IZA Discussion Paper No 2437, NovemberGoogle Scholar
- Chiang AC (1984) Fundamental methods of mathematical economics. international edition. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Conley D, Glauber R (2005) Parental educational investment and children’s academic risk: estimates of the impact of sibship size and birth order from exogenous variation in fertility. NBER Working Paper 11302, AprilGoogle Scholar
- Hauser RM, Sewell WH (1985) Birth order and educational attainment in full sibships. Am Educ Res J 22(1):1–23Google Scholar
- Iacovou M (2001) Family composition and children’s educational outcomes. Working paper of institute for social and economic research, paper 2001-12 (PDF). University of Essex, Colchester (June)Google Scholar
- Parish WL, Willis RJ (1993) Daughters, education, and family budgets taiwan experiences. The Journal of Human Resources, Special Issue: Symposium on Investments in Women’s Human Capital and Development 28(4):863–898Google Scholar
- Rosenzweig MR, Zhang J (2006) Do population control policies induce more human capital investments? Twins, birthweight, and Chinas one child policy. Yale University, Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper 933Google Scholar