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

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

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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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6443.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6443
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  1. Robert Kaestner, 1996. "Are Brothers Really Better? Sibling Sex Composition and Educational Achievement Revisited," NBER Working Papers 5521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
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  8. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  9. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "Older and Wiser? Birth Order and IQ of Young Men," NBER Working Papers 13237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2010. "Multiple Experiments for the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 773-824, October.
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  15. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700, May.
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  20. 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.
  21. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 10281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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