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Birth Order and Sibship Sex Composition as Instruments in the Study of Education and Earnings

  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J.
  • Picard, Natalie
  • Prieto, Ana

This paper presents an empirical study of birth-order and sibship sex-composition effects on educational achievement, and uses these variables as instruments to estimate returns to education, with the help of a rich set of individual data. Our sample includes more than 12,000 men and 10,000 women, who all left school in 1992, in France. The wages and educational achievements of individuals, as well as many aspects of family background, including birth order, number of sisters and brothers, are observed. An Ordered Probit model explains educational achievements. Sibship sex composition is shown to have an impact. Brothers and sisters have significant, non-negligible and different effects on educational achievement. A higher number of siblings has a negative effect in general, holding birth order constant, except when parents belong to the highest occupational groups; in other words, it is good to have many brothers and sisters if one's parents are well-to-do (the 'rich daddy effect'). On average, girls suffer significantly more from an additional brother than boys. Birth-order effects are both significant and substantial, even when many controls are included in the regressions. A high rank among siblings is detrimental for educational attainment (all other things equal), except in the case of fatherless children. Finally, a two stage method is used to estimate log-wage equations, taking care of education endogeneity, using birth order and the number of siblings as instruments. The OLS estimates of returns to education are biased downwards, when females are considered, but do not seem to be biased in the male sub-sample, given that many controls have been added in the wage equation.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5514.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5514
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  1. Robert Kaestner, 1997. "Are Brothers Really Better? Sibling Sex Composition and Educational Achievement Revisited," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 250-284.
  2. 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.
  3. Dominique Goux & Éric Maurin, 1994. "Éducation, expérience et salaire," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 116(5), pages 155-178.
  4. Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education," Open Access publications 10197/310, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  5. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Iacovou, Maria, 2001. "Family composition and children's educational outcomes," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-12, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  8. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-12, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek & Ian Walker, 2003. "The Returns to Education: Microeconomics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 115-156, 04.
  11. Robert M. Hauser & Hsiang-Hui Daphne Kuo, 1998. "Does the Gender Composition of Sibships Affect Women's Educational Attainment?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 644-657.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  13. Yves Guillotin & Patrick Sevestre, 1994. "Estimations de fonctions de gains sur données de panel : endogéneité du capital humain et effets de la sélection," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 116(5), pages 119-135.
  14. Butcher, Kristin F & Case, Anne, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-63, August.
  15. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  16. 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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