Do Siblings Make Us Happy?

31 Pages Posted: 25 May 2016

See all articles by Shun Wang

Shun Wang

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Weina Zhou

Dalhousie University

Date Written: February 6, 2016


In this paper we estimate the causal effect of having brothers as compared to having sisters on individuals’ happiness in China. To identify the effect, we explore random gender assignment of siblings, conditional on the number of siblings, among urban residents born before the One Child Policy (1979). We find that having more brothers significantly increases individuals’ happiness. Specifically, having one more brother rather than one sister increases one’s self reported happiness by 0.023 on a 1 to 5 scale, which is equivalent to the effect of a 14% increase in the annual household income. The brothers effect is particularly large among low-income individuals and individuals with large income uncertainties. These results are consistent with findings in early literature, suggesting that brothers provide each other with financial support in case of need.

Keywords: Happiness, Brothers, Siblings, China

JEL Classification: I31, J12, J16

Suggested Citation

Wang, Shun and Zhou, Weina, Do Siblings Make Us Happy? (February 6, 2016). KDI School of Pub Policy & Management Paper No. 16-04, Available at SSRN:

Shun Wang (Contact Author)

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Weina Zhou

Dalhousie University ( email )

6225 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H7

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