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

  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Victor Lavy
  • Analia Schlosser

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 %u201Cquantity-quality trade-off,%u201D 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 provides 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 boys 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 suggest that first-born girls from large families marry sooner.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11835.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11835
Note: CH ED LS
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  5. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work and Fertility," CEPR Discussion Papers 5089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Johnson, D. Gale, 1999. "Population and economic development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16.
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  22. 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.
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