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

  • Angrist, Joshua
  • Lavy, Victor
  • Schlosser, Analia

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 causal "quantity-quality trade-off," 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 suggests that this is indeed the case. This paper presents 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 male births 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 from one sub-sample suggest that first-born girls from large families marry sooner.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5668.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5668
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Sandra E. Black & Paul G. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2004. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education," NBER Working Papers 10720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jungmin Lee, 2008. "Sibling size and investment in children’s education: an asian instrument," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 855-875, October.
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  7. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: an empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility," Staff Report 361, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2009. "The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1384-1414, September.
  9. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-77, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Nancy Qian, 2010. "Quantity-Quality and the One Child Policy: The Only-Child Disadvantage in School Enrollment in Rural China," Working Papers id:2558, eSocialSciences.
  12. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1992. "Average causal response with variable treatment intensity," Discussion Paper 1992-34, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  13. Omer Moav, 2005. "Cheap Children and the Persistence of Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 88-110, 01.
  14. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Parental Educational Investment and Children's Academic Risk: Estimates of the Impact of Sibship Size and Birth Order from Exogenous Variations in Fertility," NBER Working Papers 11302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Moshe Hazan & Binyamin Berdugo, 2005. "Child Labor, Fertility and Economic Growth," Development and Comp Systems 0507002, EconWPA.
  18. 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.
  19. Johnson, D. Gale, 1999. "Population and economic development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16.
  20. Kenneth I. Wolpin & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2000. "Natural "Natural Experiments" in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 827-874, December.
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  22. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Sibling Similarity and Difference in Socioeconomic Status: Life Course and Family Resource Effects," NBER Working Papers 11320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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