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New Evidence on the Causal Link Between the Quantity and Quality of Children

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  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Victor Lavy
  • Analia Schlosser

Abstract

A longstanding question in the economics of the family is the relationship between sibship size and subsequent human capital formation and economic welfare. If there is a %u201Cquantity-quality trade-off,%u201D then policies that discourage large families should lead to increased human capital, higher earnings, and, at the macro level, promote economic development. Ordinary least squares regression estimates and a large theoretical literature suggest that this is indeed the case. This paper provides new evidence on the child-quantity/child-quality trade-off. Our empirical strategy exploits exogenous variation in family size due to twin births and preferences for a mixed sibling-sex composition, as well as ethnic differences in the effects of these variables, and preferences for boys in some ethnic groups. We use these sources of variation to look at the causal effect of family size on completed educational attainment, fertility, and earnings. For the purposes of this analysis, we constructed a unique matched data set linking Israeli Census data with information on the demographic structure of families drawn from a population registry. Our results show no evidence of a quantity-quality trade-off, though some estimates suggest that first-born girls from large families marry sooner.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11835.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11835

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  1. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1992. "Average causal response with variable treatment intensity," Discussion Paper 1992-34, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
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  7. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 11268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-40, January.
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  18. Johnson, D. Gale, 1999. "Population and economic development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16.
  19. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Family Resources, Family Size, and Access to Financing for College Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 398-419, April.
  20. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2004. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education," IZA Discussion Papers 1269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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