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

  • Angrist, Joshua



  • Lavy, Victor


    (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

  • Schlosser, Analia


    (Tel Aviv University)

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 tradeoff," 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 suggest 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 subsample suggest that first-born girls from large families marry sooner.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2075.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2075
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  1. Moshe Hazan & Binyamin Berdugo, 2002. "Child Labour, Fertility, and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 810-828, October.
  2. 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.
  3. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-77, January.
  4. Moav, Omer, 2001. "Cheap Children and the Persistence of Poverty," CEPR Discussion Papers 3059, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Imbens, G. & Angrist, J.D., 1992. "Average Causal Response with Variable Treatment Intensity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1611, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Johnson, D. Gale, 1999. "Population and economic development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Charles F. Manski & Joram Mayshar, 2002. "Private and Social Incentives for Fertility: Israeli Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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, .
  21. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  22. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
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