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Parental Educational Investment and Children's Academic Risk: Estimates of the Impact of Sibship Size and Birth Order from Exogenous Variations in Fertility

  • Dalton Conley
  • Rebecca Glauber
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    The stylized fact that individuals who come from families with more children are disadvantaged in the schooling process has been one of the most robust effects in human capital and stratification research over the last few decades. For example, Featherman and Hauser (1978: 242-243) estimate that each additional brother or sister costs respondents on the order of a fifth of a year of schooling. However, more recent analyses suggest that the detrimental effects of sibship size on children's educational achievement might be spurious. We extend these recent analyses of spuriousness versus causality using a different method and a different set of outcome measures. We suggest an instrumental variable approach to estimate the effect of sibship size on children's private school attendance and on their likelihood of being held back in school. Specifically, we deploy the sex-mix instrument used by Angrist and Evans (1998). Analyses of educational data from the 1990 PUMS five percent sample reveal that children from larger families are less likely to attend private school and are more likely to be held back in school. Our estimates are smaller than traditional OLS estimates, but are nevertheless greater than zero. Most interesting is the fact that the effect of sibship size is uniformly strongest for latter-born children and zero for first born children.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11302.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11302.

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    Date of creation: May 2005
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    Publication status: published as Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2006. "Parental Educational Investment and Children’s Academic Risk: Estimates of the Impact of Sibship Size and Birth Order from Exogenous Variation in Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11302
    Note: CH ED HE
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    1. Alan B. Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2003. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 9418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 2001. "Would Smaller Classes Help Close the Black-White Achievement Gap?," Working Papers 830, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. James J. Heckman & Thomas E. MaCurdy, 1985. "A Simultaneous Equations Linear Probability Model," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(1), pages 28-37, February.
    6. John Bound & David A. Jaeger, 1996. "On the Validity of Season of Birth as an Instrument in Wage Equations: A Comment on Angrist & Krueger's "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Scho," NBER Working Papers 5835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    10. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Split-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 225-35, April.
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