Sibling Gender Composition's Effect on Education

Evidence from China

Published in: Journal of Population Economics (April 2017), Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 569-590. doi:10.1007/s00148-016-0614-z

Posted on RAND.org on May 16, 2017

by Xiaoyan Lei, Yan Shen, James P. Smith, Guangsu Zhou

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We use a population survey of the Chinese adult population — €”2010 Chinese Family Panel Studies (CFPS) modeled after the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We find that being the oldest child gives an education benefit to male and not female children who are often assigned supervisory roles for younger siblings. Most importantly, an increase in the fraction of female siblings leads to a significant increase in education of Chinese men and to a lesser extent Chinese women. This effect is concentrated among those with rural Hukou. In China, male children absorbed more education resources so that in a credit constrained family, increases in fraction of siblings who are sisters frees up resources for educating boys. This is less so for girls since their education was lower and additional resources would not be used for them.

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