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Older and Wiser? Birth Order and IQ of Young Men

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

Abstract

While recent research finds strong evidence that birth order affects children's outcomes such as education and earnings, the evidence on the effects of birth order on IQ is decidedly mixed. This paper uses a large dataset on the population of Norway that allows us to precisely measure birth order effects on IQ using both cross-sectional and within-family methods. Importantly, irrespective of method, we find a strong and significant effect of birth order on IQ, and our results suggest that earlier born children have higher IQs. Our preferred estimates suggest differences between first-borns and second-borns of about one fifth of a standard deviation or approximately 3 IQ points. Despite these large average effects, birth order only explains about 3% of the within-family variance of IQ. When we control for birth endowments, the estimated birth order effects increase. Thus, our analysis suggests that birth order effects are not biologically determined. Also, there is no evidence that birth order effects occur because later-born children are more affected by family breakdown.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13237.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13237

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References

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  1. Alison Booth & Hiau Kee, 2009. "Birth order matters: the effect of family size and birth order on educational attainment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 367-397, April.
  2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2006. "From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19425, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Birth Order, Schooling, and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S121-45, July.
  4. S Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Childrens Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0050, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  5. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bu, Feifei, 2014. "Sibling configurations, educational aspiration and attainment," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-11, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Martin Schlotter, 2011. "The Effect of Preschool Attendance on Secondary School Track Choice in Germany - Evidence from Siblings," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 106, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  3. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2009. "Like father, like son? A note on the intergenerational transmission of IQ scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 138-140, October.
  4. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2007. "Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men," CEPR Discussion Papers 6443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Grönqvist, Erik & Öckert, Björn & Vlachos, Jonas, 2010. "The intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities," Working Paper Series 2010:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  6. Gennetian, Lisa A. & Hill, Heather D. & London, Andrew S. & Lopoo, Leonard M., 2010. "Maternal employment and the health of low-income young children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 353-363, May.
  7. Anger, Silke & Heineck, Guido, 2010. "Do Smart Parents Raise Smart Children? The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Abilities," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1105-1132.
  8. Venke Furre Haaland & Mari Rege & Mark Votruba, 2013. "Nobody Home: The Effect of Maternal Labor Force Participation on Long-Term Child Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 4495, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Height and Cognitive Function among Older Europeans: Do People from "Tall" Countries Have Superior Cognitive Abilities?," IZA Discussion Papers 6210, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Leandro Carvalho, 2012. "Childhood Circumstances and the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 913-938, August.
  11. Monfardini, Chiara & See, Sarah Grace, 2012. "Birth Order and Child Outcomes: Does Maternal Quality Time Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 6825, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.
  13. Martin Schlotter, 2012. "Educational Production in Preschools and Schools - Microeconometric Evidence from Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 41.
  14. 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.

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