IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ucn/oapubs/10197-310.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education

Author

Listed:
  • Paul J. Devereux
  • Sandra E. Black
  • Kjell G. Salvanes

Abstract

There is an extensive theoretical literature that postulates a trade-off between child quantity and quality within a family. However, there is little causal evidence that speaks to this theory. Using a rich data set on the entire population of Norway over an extended period of time, we examine the effects of family size and birth order on the educational attainment of children. We find a negative correlation between family size and children's education, but when we include indicators for birth order or use twin births as an instrument, family size effects become negligible. In addition, higher birth order has a significant and large negative effect on children's education. We also study adult earnings, employment, and teenage childbearing and find strong evidence for birth order effects with these outcomes, particularly among women. These findings suggest the need to revisit economic models of fertility and child "production," focusing not only on differences across families but differences within families as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education," Open Access publications 10197/310, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:oapubs:10197/310
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/310
    File Function: Open Access version, 2005
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 815, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
    3. Gary S. Becker & H. Gregg Lewis, 1974. "Interaction between Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 81-90, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Saul Hoffman & E. Foster & Frank Furstenberg, 1993. "Reevaluating the costs of teenage childbearing: Response to Geronimus and Korenman," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(2), pages 291-296, May.
    5. repec:cdl:ucsbec:10-02 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 2005. "The effect of overcrowded housing on children's performance at school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 797-819, June.
    7. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
    8. Deschenes, Olivier, 2007. "Estimating the Effects of Family Background on the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 265-277, July.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Kessler, Daniel, 1991. "Birth Order, Family Size, and Achievement: Family Structure and Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 413-426, October.
    12. Robert M. Hauser & Hsiang-Hui Daphne Kuo, 1998. "Does the Gender Composition of Sibships Affect Women's Educational Attainment?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 644-657.
    13. Dahl, Gordon B. & Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt63f8483b, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    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. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-1156, December.
    16. 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 450-477, June.
    17. Joyce P. Jacobsen & James Wishart Pearce III & Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1999. "The Effects of Childbearing on Married Women's Labor Supply and Earnings: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 449-474.
    18. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Case, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-563.
    19. Iacovou, Maria, 2001. "Family composition and children's educational outcomes," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-12, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    20. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2004. "The more the merrier? The effect of family composition on children's education," Open Access publications 10197/735, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    2. 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).
    3. 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).
    4. 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.
    5. Damian Clarke, 2018. "Children And Their Parents: A Review Of Fertility And Causality," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 518-540, April.
    6. Nancy Qian, 2009. "Quantity-Quality and the One Child Policy:The Only-Child Disadvantage in School Enrollment in Rural China," NBER Working Papers 14973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Vu, Linh Hoang & Tran, Tuyen Quang, 2021. "Sibship composition, birth order and education: Evidence from Vietnam," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    8. Zhong, Hai, 2014. "The effect of sibling size on children's health: a regression discontinuity design approach based on China's one-child policy," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 156-165.
    9. 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 450-477, June.
    10. Nguyen, Cuong & Pham, Nguyet & Westbrook, Daniel, 2007. "Do Sibship Size and Birth Order Matter to Child Education?Evidence from Vietnam," MPRA Paper 107150, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. 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.
    12. Xiaoyu Wu & Lixing Li, 2012. "Family size and maternal health: evidence from the One-Child policy in China," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 1341-1364, October.
    13. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2010. "Multiple Experiments for the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 773-824, October.
    14. Gary-Bobo, Robert J. & Picard, Natalie & Prieto, Ana, 2006. "Birth Order and Sibship Sex Composition as Instruments in the Study of Education and Earnings," CEPR Discussion Papers 5514, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. Åslund, Olof & Grönqvist, Hans, 2010. "Family size and child outcomes: Is there really no trade-off?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 130-139, January.
    18. de Haan, Monique, 2010. "Birth order, family size and educational attainment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 576-588, August.
    19. Solomon Tesfu & Shiferaw Gurmu, 2013. "Mother’s Gender Preferences and Child Schooling in Ethiopia," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 41(3), pages 265-277, September.
    20. Oliveira, Jaqueline, 2016. "The value of children: Inter-generational support, fertility, and human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-16.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucn:oapubs:10197/310. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/educdie.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Nicolas Clifton (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/educdie.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.