Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance

V. Joseph Hotz, Juan Pantano

NBER Working Paper No. 19542
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED

Fueled by new evidence, there has been renewed interest about the effects of birth order on human capital accumulation. The underlying causal mechanisms for such effects remain unsettled. We consider a model in which parents impose more stringent disciplinary environments in response to their earlier-born children's poor performance in school in order to deter such outcomes for their later-born offspring. We provide robust empirical evidence that school performance of children in the NLSY-C declines with birth order as does the stringency of their parents' disciplinary restrictions. And, when asked how they will respond if a child brought home bad grades, parents state that they would be less likely to punish their later-born children. Taken together, these patterns are consistent with a reputation model of strategic parenting.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19542

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