The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education

51 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2004

See all articles by Sandra E. Black

Sandra E. Black

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Paul J. Devereux

University College Dublin - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2004

Abstract

Among the perceived inputs in the "production" of child quality is family size; there is an extensive theoretical literature that postulates a tradeoff between child quantity and quality within a family. However, there is little causal evidence that speaks to this theory. Our analysis is able to overcome many limitations of the previous literature by using a rich dataset that contains information on the entire population of Norway over an extended period of time and allows us to match adult children to their parents and siblings. In addition, we use exogenous variation in family size induced by the birth of twins to isolate causation. Like most previous studies, we find a negative correlation between family size and children's educational attainment. However, when we include indicators for birth order, the effect of family size becomes negligible. This finding is robust to the use of twin births as an instrument for family size. In addition, we find that birth order has a significant and large effect on children's education; children born later in the family obtain less education. 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.

Keywords: I2, J1

Suggested Citation

Black, Sandra E. and Devereux, Paul J. and Salvanes, Kjell G., The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education (August 2004). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1269. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=583144

Sandra E. Black (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Paul J. Devereux

University College Dublin - Department of Economics ( email )

Dublin 4, 4
Ireland

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway
+47 5 595 9315 (Phone)
+47 5 595 9543 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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