Month of Birth and Birth Order Effects or Bad Parental Strategies?

Mar Cañizares Espadafor , European University Institute
Fabrizio Bernardi, European University Institute

Previous studies show that both birth order and month of birth create long-lasting disadvantages for children. Empirical evidence suggest that in those countries with a strict cut-off age of entry in school, those born just before the age limit cut-off and who are therefore the youngest when school start, tend to have lower grades and perform worst in tests when compared to those who were older at school start. Similarly, being second or third born have negative effects on children’s educational outcomes. In this paper, we investigate whether second and third born children are more likely to be born in months before the cut-off and whether the negative effect of an early school entry age mediates the effect of birth order on school outcomes. We use a novel siblings dataset from Spain (N=722,335). Spain has a very strict school entry date cut-off and compliance with age at school-entry is perfect since care-givers cannot choose to advance or delay school entry. We find that the negative effect of birth order is partly due to younger siblings being disproportionally born in later months of the year. This is due to parental strategies on children spacing in order to reduce the school years difference between children.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy