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

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

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13336.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2010. "Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13336

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Åslund, Olof & Grönqvist, Hans, 2010. "Family size and child outcomes: Is there really no trade-off?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 130-139, January.
  3. 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).
  4. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde, 2014. "Empirically probing the quantity–quality model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 33-68, January.
  5. 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.
  6. Helena Holmlund & Helmut Rainer & Thomas Siedler, 2013. "Meet the Parents? Family Size and the Geographic Proximity Between Adult Children and Older Mothers in Sweden," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 903-931, June.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Christoph T. Weiss, 2012. "Persistent Attitudes and Behaviors," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0143, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  11. Alma Cohen & Rajeev Dehejia & Dmitri Romanov, 2007. "Do Financial Incentives Affect Fertility?," NBER Working Papers 13700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  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. Silke Anger & Guido Heineck, 2010. "Do smart parents raise smart children? The intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 1105-1132, June.
  15. Baumgarten Skogstrøm, Jens Fredrik, 2012. "Entrepreneurial School Dropouts: A Model on Signalling, Education and Entrepreneurship," Memorandum 10/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. Jose Maria Cabrera, 2011. "Fecundidad e Ingresos en Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1110, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
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