Poster Paper: Effects of Sibling Size and Structure Revisited: New Evidence of the Allocation of Family Educational Resources in China

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Shoudeng Zhang and Po Yang, Peking University

China has made a great change in birth control policy recently to encourage fertility, which directly affects couples’ birth decisions and education investment for their offspring. Prior literature provides insights on the relation between sibling size/structure and intra-household allocation. Both the quantity-quality trade-off theory (Becker, 1960) and the resource dilution theory (Blake, 1981) argue that when the number of children increases, the resources that each child receive will decrease because of budget constraint. Numerous studies have consistently found negative effects of sibling size on educational outcomes, which also held in China (Li & Zhang, 2008). Sibling structure—in terms of gender inequality—also influences household resources allocation. There is a longstanding debate on whether parents’ allocation of resources is reinforcing (Becker & Tomes, 1979; 1986) or compensatory (Wolfe & Behrman, 1982) for children of different gender. Some researchers claim that in China sibling structure matters, because boys are culturally preferred and resources from all family members are pooled together for boys (Chu et al., 2007).

A large body of literature has been devoted to the study of the relationship between sibling and education outcomes (usually years of schooling or degree attainment) using adult samples (Angrist et al., 2010; Kessler, 1991; Zheng, 2013). Prior studies fail to address the effect of sibling size/structure on intra-household resources allocation for education, which leaves the mechanism of sibling effect an unsolved puzzle. This study utilized China Education Panel Survey, a nationally representative survey starting with the 7th and 9th graders in 2013-2014 academic year, to examine the distribution of education resources within Chinese households regarding sibling size and structure. Based on the baseline survey data of 2013/2014, we divide family educational resources into three groups: financial investment, parental involvement, and family environment. We use Propensity Score Matching to take care of group imbalance and try to identify the causal effect of sibling size/structure on individual’s access to family resources. We repeat PSM three times for (1) only child; (2) having brothers; (3) having sisters. The OLS results are also listed for comparison.

Our preliminary analysis shows that (1) sibling size has a negative effect on the access of educational resources. Children who have siblings receive significantly less financial investment, especially in the rural area. Meanwhile, parents less frequently check children’s homework or provide guidance on children’s study if they have more than one child. Children who have siblings are less likely to have a personal desk at home, while their relationships with parents are not so good as those only-child. (2) Having brothers results in less financial investment no matter for boys or girls. Having sisters provides boys more financial investment from parents. For girls, having brothers leads to a worse relationship with parents, but it provides boys a better relationship with father. Having brothers or sisters both refuse access to a personal desk at home. (3) After controlling for sibling size and birth order, sibling structure effect reveals that boys are preferred. The sibling size effects above are smaller for boys.