Parenting, Birth Order and School Achievement

V. Joseph Hotz, University of California, Los Angeles
Juan Pantano, University of California, Los Angeles

Interest on the effect of birth order on human capital accumulation has recently re-emerged. The debate about its existence seems to be settled, but identification of the main mechanisms remains somewhat elusive. While the latest research aims at rediscovering dilution theory, we advance complementary economic hypothesis regarding the causal mechanism underlying birth order effects in education. In particular, we entertain theories of differential discipline in which those who are born later face more lenient disciplinary environments. In such context, the later born will be likely to exert lower school effort, thus reaching lower achievement levels. We provide robust empirical evidence on substantial attenuation of TV viewing restrictions for those with higher birth order (born later). We speculate this may arise a) as a result of parental reputation dynamics and/or b) because of the changing relative cost of alternative punishment technologies available to parents.

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Presented in Session 62: Sibling Effects Across the Life Course