Does birth order affect the cognitive development of a child?

Frank Heiland, Florida State University

We investigate the effects of birth order on child cognitive development, using large child and sibling samples obtained from the mother-child data of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Controlling for various determinants of cognitive development we find that having a high birth rank is detrimental and that the gap between adjacent siblings is larger for children early in the birth sequence. The pattern is strongest for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic children. Among African-American children no difference between the first- and the second-born child is found. The negative birth order effects are robust to specification that control for family fixed effects, use a sibling first difference approach, or account for subsequent siblings.

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Presented in Poster Session 2