1. Intrahousehold Resource Allocation, Son Preference, and Fertility restrictions: A Tale of Birth Order (Job Market Paper)

Abstract: Birth order is crucial for child development, yet the evidence of the heterogeneous effects of birth order by gender preferences and fertility control policies is limited. This paper aims to study how birth order effects on child health interact with gender preference and the family planning policy. I develop an illustrative model that incorporates parents’ fertility and child investment decisions. The model can not only help understand birth order effects in a general framework in which parents have no gender preferences but also explain why birth order effects arise in the presence of son preference and fertility control policies and how birth order effects interact with them. Using China Family Panel Studies (2010–2018), I find a negative birth order effect on health outcomes in rural China. Consistent with the model predictions, I find that: 1) a higher family income narrows birth order differences in child health, which suggests that the early stage of skill formation plays a more important role in human capital than the late stage; 2) in regions with stricter enforcement of the one-child policy, richer families are less likely to have multiple children, and birth order effects in stricter regions are stronger compared to families in less strict regions; 3) in regions with higher son preferences, richer families are more likely to have multiple children, and birth order effects in high-son-preference regions are less prominent compared with those in lower-son-preference regions.

Please see my Job Market Paper here.

2. Reexamining the Effect of Birth Order on Cognition and Noncognition: New Evidence from China, (with Naijia Guo and Junsen Zhang), Revise and Resubmit at Economics of Education Review

Abstract: We present rich new evidence on birth order effects on cognition and noncognition using a rural sample from China Family Panel Studies. Within families, being the later-born child confers both statistically and economically significant disadvantages in cognition, but has no effects on noncognition. In particular, the deficits in the cognition of the later-born are persistently large between the ages 10 and 18, despite showing a modest decrease with age. We shed new light on the mediating role of school starting age, which explains more than a quarter of the total effect of birth order on cognition. We also find that birth order is negatively associated with home environment and parent–child interactions. In addition, we find a negative relationship between birth order and education among adults, which suggests that China today shares more similarities with developed economies.