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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Sibship Size on Educational Attainment in China: Cohort Variations


In industrialized nations sibship size generally depresses educational attainment—the larger the number of siblings, the lower the educational attainment, presumably because of the reduction of family resources (both material and intellectual) available to each child. However, this association is much less consistent in developing nations, and there is some evidence of substantial change over time. In this paper, we study the effect of number of siblings on educational attainment in China, a nation that has experienced sharp vacillations between policies designed to promote equality (between urban and rural residents and between men and women) and policies designed to promote economic development. The implementation of these policies in the educational arena has alternately reduced and increased competition for educational resources and, we show, has correspondingly reduced and increased the effect of the number of children in a family on their educational attainment.

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