Explaining the Birth Order Effect: The Role of Prenatal and Early Childhood Investments
AbstractThe critical role of prenatal and early childhood conditions on adult outcomes has been the focus of a rich body of research. In this paper, we examine various pre- and postnatal investments as possible sources behind the "birth order effect" – significant differences in the educational and labor market outcomes across children of varying birth orders. Taking advantage of a rich set of information on in utero and early childhood conditions in the Children of the NLSY79, we find that, within the same household, siblings of higher birth order experience a lower reduction in cigarette usage during pregnancy, are breastfed less often, and experience less cognitive stimulation and emotional support at ages 0 to 1. Next, we test for the presence of birth order effects in early cognitive and non-cognitive test scores and examine whether these differences can be explained by variations in prenatal and early childhood investments. Although there exists a significant negative relationship between birth order and early cognitive/non-cognitive test scores, the size and the significance of the negative birth order effects in test scores and educational attainment are robust to controlling for variations in early childhood factors.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6755.
Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
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