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The Impact of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Educational Achievements: A Unique Natural Experiment by Twins Gender Shocks


  • Stacey H. Chen

    () (Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London)

  • Yen-Chien Chen

    () (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University)

  • Jin-Tan Liu

    () (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University)


In a pro-male biased society, brothers may reduce the parental investment received by female siblings, if parents face time or financial constraints. But brothers may also cause positive externalities. Using more than 12,000 firstborn twins from a highly sex-imbalanced economy, Taiwan, we test if women have fewer opportunities to attend college if they have a brother rather than a sister. To minimize the problem of sex selection, we exploit the fact that twin sex is random given the sex of the other twin, once we limit the data to time periods in which abortion was illegal and technology was unavailable to abort one of the two twins. We show that the birth of a male sibling, relative to a female, has almost no impact on women's or men's college enrollments on the average. If there is any effect, it is small and imprecise. Our results point to the importance of accounting for positive externalities (e.g., decreasing family size) created by a son's birth, in studies on sibling rivalry.

Suggested Citation

  • Stacey H. Chen & Yen-Chien Chen & Jin-Tan Liu, 2009. "The Impact of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Educational Achievements: A Unique Natural Experiment by Twins Gender Shocks," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 09/08, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London.
  • Handle: RePEc:hol:holodi:0908

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    education; son preference; sibling rivalry; sibling spillover; sex selective abortion; within-family allocation of resources;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General


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