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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

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  • Dalton Conley
  • Rebecca Glauber

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11302
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Sanhueza, 2009. "Family Size and Birth Order in Chile: Using Twins as a Natural Experiment," ILADES-UAH Working Papers inv234, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Business.
    2. Frini, Olfa & Muller, Christophe, 2012. "Demographic transition, education and economic growth in Tunisia," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 351-371.
    3. Jung Hur & Yohanes E. Riyanto, 2012. "Organizational Structure and Product Market Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 707-743, September.
    4. Millimet, Daniel & Wang, Le, 2005. "Is the Quantity-Quality Trade-off Really a Trade-off for All?," Departmental Working Papers 0502, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
    5. Martin Huber, 2015. "Testing the Validity of the Sibling Sex Ratio Instrument," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 29(1), pages 1-14, March.
    6. Alison Booth & Hiau Kee, 2009. "Birth order matters: the effect of family size and birth order on educational attainment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 367-397, April.
    7. Vladimir Ponczek & Andre Portela Souza, 2012. "New Evidence of the Causal Effect of Family Size on Child Quality in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 64-106.
    8. Ding, Weili & Lehrer, Steven F. & Rosenquist, J.Niels & Audrain-McGovern, Janet, 2009. "The impact of poor health on academic performance: New evidence using genetic markers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 578-597, May.
    9. Wendt, Minh & Kinsey, Jean D., 2009. "Childhood Overweight and School Outcomes," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49347, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "New Evidence on the Causal Link Between the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 11835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Meltem Dayioğlu & Murat G. Kirdar & Aysit Tansel, 2009. "Impact of Sibship Size, Birth Order and Sex Composition on School Enrolment in Urban Turkey," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(3), pages 399-426, June.
    12. Daniel L. Millimet & Le Wang, 2011. "Is the Quantity-Quality Trade-Off a Trade-Off for All, None, or Some?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 155-195.
    13. Ponczek, Vladimir Pinheiro & Souza, André Portela Fernandes de, 2007. "The causal effect of family size on child labor and education," Textos para discussão 162, FGV EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil).
    14. Huber, Martin, 2012. "Statistical verification of a natural "natural experiment": Tests and sensitivity checks for the sibling sex ratio instrument," Economics Working Paper Series 1219, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    15. Cascio, Elizabeth U., 2005. "School Progression and the Grade Distribution of Students: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1747, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Jason M. Fletcher & Steven F. Lehrer, 2009. "Using Genetic Lotteries within Families to Examine the Causal Impact of Poor Health on Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 15148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Baez, Javier E., 2008. "Does More Mean Better? Sibling Sex Composition and the Link between Family Size and Children’s Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 3472, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Shen, Guangjun & Zou, Jingxian & Liu, Xiaoguang, 2017. "Economies of scale, resource dilution and education choice in developing countries: Evidence from Chinese households," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 138-153.
    19. Rees, Daniel I. & Lopez, Elizabeth & Averett, Susan L. & Argys, Laura M., 2008. "Birth order and participation in school sports and other extracurricular activities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 354-362, June.

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