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The Quantity-Quality Trade-off and the Formation of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills

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  • Chinhui Juhn
  • Yona Rubinstein
  • C. Andrew Zuppann

Abstract

We estimate the impact of increases in family size on childhood and adult outcomes using matched mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Using twins as an instrumental variable and panel data to control for omitted factors we find that families face a substantial quantity-quality trade-off: increases in family size decrease parental investment, decrease childhood cognitive abilities, and increase behavioral problems. The negative effects on cognitive abilities are much larger for girls while the detrimental effects on behavior are larger for boys. We also find evidence of heterogeneous effects by mother's AFQT score, with the negative effects on cognitive scores being much larger for children of mothers with low AFQT scores.

Suggested Citation

  • Chinhui Juhn & Yona Rubinstein & C. Andrew Zuppann, 2015. "The Quantity-Quality Trade-off and the Formation of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills," NBER Working Papers 21824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21824
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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2010. "Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
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    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
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    5. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    6. 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 279-288, Part II, .
    7. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School, and Racial Test Score Gaps," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-136.
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    13. 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 227-240, January.
    14. 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.
    15. Bagger, Jesper & Birchenall, Javier A. & Mansour, Hani & Urzua, Sergio, 2013. "Education, Birth Order, and Family Size," IZA Discussion Papers 7454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Adriana D. Kugler & Santosh Kumar, 2017. "Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(3), pages 835-859, June.
    2. Kabir Dasgupta & Keisha T.-Solomon, 2017. "Family Size Effects on Child Health: Evidence on the Quantity-Quality Trade-off using the NLSY," Working Papers 2017-04 JEL Classificatio, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    3. Jessica Leight & Elaine M. Liu, 2016. "Maternal Education, Parental Investment and Non-cognitive Characteristics in Rural China," Department of Economics Working Papers 2016-05, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    4. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:42-55 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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