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The Birth Order Paradox: Sibling Differences in Educational Attainment
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study uses population register data to examine the relationship between birth order and educational attainment in Sweden, and demonstrates that while the causal effect of birth order on educational attainment is negative, later born children actually perform better. The explanation for this finding is due to educational expansion in Sweden in the 20th century, which outweighs the negative causal effect of birth order. This is particularly true for women due to the fact that the rate of increasing educational enrolment has been greater for women than for men. These results also show that later borns in large families particularly benefit from educational expansion due to the longer average birth interval between the first and last child in large families. The difference between the negative causal effect and actual experience of birth order is likely to be contributing to the confusion regarding birth order effects in the literature.

Keyword [en]
Birth Order, Educational Attainment, Educational Expansion, Sibling Comparison, Fixed Effects, Sweden, Register Data
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Demography; Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108838OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-108838DiVA: diva2:760837
Available from: 2014-11-04 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2014-11-06
In thesis
1. The Long-term Impact of Birth Order on Health and Educational Attainment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Long-term Impact of Birth Order on Health and Educational Attainment
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis examines the long-term impact of birth order on health, and educational attainment. Swedish register data is used to link individuals to their siblings, thereby allowing members of the sibling group to be compared to one another. This thesis consists of an introductory chapter summarizing empirical research on the relationship between birth order and educational attainment, intelligence, health, and personality, as well the theoretical frameworks that have been developed to explain those relationships. This introductory chapter is followed by four original empirical studies. The first two studies show that relative to first born siblings, later borns have lower physical fitness in late adolescence, and higher mortality in adulthood. The third study uses the Swedish registers to identify sibling groups that entirely consist of adopted individuals, and shows that the commonly observed negative relationship between birth order and educational attainment persists in these fully adopted sibling groups. These results suggest that birth order effects are likely explained by post-natal, social mechanisms within the family. Finally, the fourth study shows that even though later born siblings do worse than first borns in a fully adjusted statistical model, educational expansion in the 20th century has meant that later born siblings actually tend to have greater educational attainment and are more likely to attend university in comparison to older siblings within the same family.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2014. 115 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 59
Keyword
Birth Order, Health, Mortality, Educational Attainment, Sibling Comparison, Fixed Effects, Sweden, Register Data
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108841 (URN)978-91-7649-051-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-19, hörsal 3, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Epub ahead of print. Paper 3: Accepted. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-11-27 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2014-11-21Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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