The Production of Inequalities within Families and Across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order and Family Size on Educational Attainment

77 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2018

See all articles by Kieron Barclay

Kieron Barclay

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research; London School of Economics, Department of Social Policy; Stockholm University - Department of Sociology

Torkild Lyngstad

Department of Sociology and Human Geography; Statistics Norway - Research Department

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2018

Abstract

There has long been interest in the extent to which effects of social stratification extend and persist across generations. We take a novel approach to this question by asking whether birth order and sibling group size in the parental generation influences the educational attainment of their children. To address this question we use Swedish population data on cohorts born 1960-1982. To study the effects of parental birth order and family size we apply a cousin fixed effects design and exploit information on twin births in the parents generation. Relative to having a first-born mother, having a second-born or fifth-born mother is associated with educational attainment at age 30 being 4% and 8% of a standard deviation lower, respectively. After adjusting for attained parental education and social class, the parental birth order effect is heavily attenuated. Nevertheless, we do find that children who share the same birth order and gender as their parents attain slightly more education, and this is particularly pronounced when the parents have higher levels of education themselves. We do not find clear or consistent evidence for parental sibling group size effects. Overall our results suggest that birth order and family size effects operate through a Markovian process of transmission.

Suggested Citation

Barclay, Kieron and Lyngstad, Torkild and Conley, Dalton, The Production of Inequalities within Families and Across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order and Family Size on Educational Attainment (April 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24530, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3167044

Kieron Barclay (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research ( email )

Doberaner Str. 114
Rostock 18057, 53113
Germany

London School of Economics, Department of Social Policy ( email )

Houghton Street
London, England WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Stockholm University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Department of Sociology, Stockholm University
Stockholm S-106 91, 10691
Sweden

Torkild Lyngstad

Department of Sociology and Human Geography ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Oslo, 0851
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://folk.uio.no/torkildl

Statistics Norway - Research Department ( email )

Kongens Gt. 6
PO Box 8131 Dep
N-0033 Oslo
Norway

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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