Birth Order Matters: The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Educational Attainment

37 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2005

See all articles by Alison L. Booth

Alison L. Booth

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Hiau Looi Kee

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

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Date Written: August 2005

Abstract

We use unique retrospective family background data from the 2003 British Household Panel Survey to explore the degree to which family size and birth order affect a child's subsequent educational attainment. Theory suggests a trade off between child quantity and 'quality'. Family size might adversely affect the production of child quality within a family. A number of arguments also suggest that siblings are unlikely to receive equal shares of the resources devoted by parents to their children's education. We construct a composite birth order index that effectively purges family size from birth order and use this to test if siblings are assigned equal shares in the family's educational resources. We find that they are not, and that the shares are decreasing with birth order. Controlling for parental family income, parental age at birth and family level attributes, we find that children from larger families have lower levels of education and that there is in addition a separate negative birth order effect. In contrast to Black, Devereux and Kelvanes (2005), the family size effect does not vanish once we control for birth order. Our findings are robust to a number of specification checks.

Keywords: Family size, birth order, education

JEL Classification: I2, J1

Suggested Citation

Booth, Alison L. and Kee, Hiau Looi, Birth Order Matters: The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Educational Attainment (August 2005). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1713, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=783727

Alison L. Booth (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
+61 2 6125 3285 (Phone)
+61 2 6125 0182 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Hiau Looi Kee

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-4155 (Phone)
202-522-1159 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/hkee

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