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Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men

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  • Black, Sandra
  • Devereux, Paul J.
  • Salvanes, Kjell G

Abstract

How do families influence the ability of children? Cognitive skills have been shown to be a strong predictor of educational attainment and future labor market success; as a result, understanding the determinants of cognitive skills can lead to a better understanding of children’s long run outcomes. This paper uses a large dataset on the male population of Norway and focuses on one family characteristic: the effect of family size on IQ. Because of the endogeneity of family size, we instrument for family size using twin births and sex composition. IV estimates using sex composition as an instrument show no negative effect of family size; however, IV estimates using twins imply that family size has a negative effect on IQ. Our results suggest that effect of family size depends on the type of family size intervention. We conclude that there are no important negative effects of expected increases in family size on IQ but that unexpected shocks to family size resulting from twin births have negative effects on the IQ of existing children.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6443.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6443

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Keywords: family size; intelligence; Quantity-Quality Model;

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Cited by:
  1. Letícia Marteleto & Laetícia Souza, 2012. "The Changing Impact of Family Size on Adolescents’ Schooling: Assessing the Exogenous Variation in Fertility Using Twins in Brazil," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(4), pages 1453-1477, November.
  2. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2008. "Like Father, Like Son? A Note on the Intergenerational Transmission of IQ Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 3651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Solomon Tesfu & Shiferaw Gurmu, 2013. "Mother’s Gender Preferences and Child Schooling in Ethiopia," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 41(3), pages 265-277, September.
  4. Almås, Ingvild & Cappelen, Alexander W. & Lind, Jo Thori & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2011. "Measuring unfair (in)equality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 488-499.
  5. Christoph T. Weiss, 2012. "Persistent Attitudes and Behaviors," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0143, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  6. Kruk, Kai Eberhard & Reinhold, Steffen, 2014. "The effect of children on depression in old age," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-11.
  7. Jose Maria Cabrera, 2011. "Fecundidad e Ingresos en Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1110, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
  8. Grytten, Jostein & Skau, Irene & Sørensen, Rune J., 2014. "Educated mothers, healthy infants. The impact of a school reform on the birth weight of Norwegian infants 1967–2005," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 84-92.
  9. Holmlund, Helena & Rainer, Helmut & Siedler, Thomas, 2013. "Meet the Parents? Family Size and the Geographic Proximity Between Adult Children and Older Mothers in Sweden," Munich Reprints in Economics 19441, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Silke Anger & Guido Heineck, 2009. "Do Smart Parents Raise Smart Children?: The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Abilities," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 156, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  11. Baumgarten Skogstrøm, Jens Fredrik, 2012. "Entrepreneurial School Dropouts: A Model on Signalling, Education and Entrepreneurship," Memorandum 10/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  12. Marc Frenette, 2011. "Why do larger families reduce parental investments in child quality, but not child quality per se?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 523-537, December.
  13. Kasey S. Buckles & Elizabeth L. Munnich, 2012. "Birth Spacing and Sibling Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 613-642.
  14. Åslund, Olof & Grönqvist, Hans, 2007. "Family size and child outcomes: Is there really no trade-off?," Working Paper Series 2007:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  15. Silles, Mary A., 2010. "The implications of family size and birth order for test scores and behavioral development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 795-803, October.
  16. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde, 2014. "Empirically probing the quantity–quality model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 33-68, January.
  17. Alma Cohen & Rajeev Dehejia & Dmitri Romanov, 2007. "Do Financial Incentives Affect Fertility?," NBER Working Papers 13700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2014. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents and their parents – Evidence of intergenerational transmission of well-being from urban China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 11-18.

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