In related literature of education attainment, there is a consistent consensus in academia that more siblings lower individual education achievements. There are two representative basic theories in this research. One is famous siblings resources-dilution hypothesis. Anastasi（1956）found that the increasing number of siblings and decreasing age gap among siblings dilute the family resources for each child. The other one is quality and quantity trade-off theory. Becker & Lewis（1973）found that there is a negative relationship between the quality and quantity of the children within a family. Based on existing literature, this paper investigates education dilution effect among siblings in China, and gender difference in education dilution effect. These questions are worth to study since they can help us to think about efficiency, like whether small family size can lead to higher human capital and income of individuals at micro level or helps to improve economic growth at macro level, and also fairness, like whether education dilution effect among siblings in a family puts the female in a more disadvantageous position. On the one hand, China is a developing country; per capita income is not high, and most of the families face serious financial constraints when they invest on children’s education. Family education investment could not increase as fast as the number of children, which means that siblings resources-dilution would happen with the increase in the number of children. On the other hand, there is a traditional custom in China that prefers boys more than girls, so there is inequality in income and job hunting between male and female, and some families, especially those with serious financial constraints, may sacrifice the quality of the girls for the boys within a family to some extent. Therefore, it may predict that there exists education dilution effect among siblings, and this effect has different influences on male and female in China. This paper employs three micro-data sets to show that the siblings’ education dilution effect（SEDE）exists in Chinese families and has gender differences. The empirical results show that, an individual with more siblings has lower education attainment. Furthermore, the SEDE on females’ education is much more serious than the one on males’ education. The argument above is robust in a series of robustness checks with different micro data sets. Moreover, we find that the gender difference of SEDE has two important causes; the one is widely existent son-preference of Chinese families, and the other is that families are sensitive to gender discrimination existent in China labor market. There are some obvious different findings between our research and existing literature. First, existing literature focuses more on the gender structure of siblings, like the proportion of girls on all family children, but we study the number of siblings, including the number of brothers and sisters, which can help us to find the effect of the SEDE more accurate. Second, existing literature argues that the proportion of brothers has negative effect on education achievement, but the proportion of sisters has no effect on education. However, we show that both the increase in the number of brothers and sisters has negative effect on education achievement, and the negative effect strengthens if the individual is a girl.
Do More Siblings Lower Educational Attainment? Micro Evidence from Chinese Families
Journal of Finance and Economics Vol. 44, Issue 02, pp. 75 - 89 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jfe.2018.02.006
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Cite this article
Zhong Yuejun, Dong Zhiqiang. Do More Siblings Lower Educational Attainment? Micro Evidence from Chinese Families[J]. Journal of Finance and Economics, 2018, 44(2): 75–89.
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