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Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's "One-Child" Policy

  • Mark R. Rosenzweig
  • Junsen Zhang

In this paper, we address the issues of whether reductions in fertility increase human capital investments per child and whether twinning can identify the quantity—quality (Q-Q) trade-off. We show that estimates of the effects of twinning at higher parities on the outcomes of older children in prior studies do not identify family-size effects but are confounded by inter-child allocation effects because of the endowment deficit and close spacing of twins. However, examining the effects of twinning by birth order, net of the effects stemming from the endowment deficit of twins, can provide upper and lower bounds on the trade-off between the family size and average child quality. Our estimates, based on data from China, indicate that an extra child at parity one or at parity two, net of one component of birth-endowment effects associated with birth weight, significantly decreases the schooling progress, the expected college enrolment, grades in school and the assessed health of all children in the family. Despite the evident significant trade-off between number of children and child quality in China, the findings suggest that the contribution of the one-child policy in China to the development of its human capital was modest. Copyright , Wiley-Blackwell.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 1149-1174

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:3:p:1149-1174
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  1. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paul Schultz, T., 2004. "School subsidies for the poor: evaluating the Mexican Progresa poverty program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 199-250, June.
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  9. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor & Schlosser, Analia, 2006. "New Evidence on the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," IZA Discussion Papers 2075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  12. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
  13. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
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