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Birth Spacing and Educational Outcomes

Elaine Hill () and David Slusky

A chapter in Human Capital and Health Behavior, 2017, vol. 25, pp 3-29 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract Virtually all parents want their children to succeed academically. How to achieve this goal, though, is far from clear. Specifically, the temporal spacing between adjacent births has been shown to affect educational outcomes. While many of these studies have produced substantial and statistically significant results, these results have been relatively narrow in their application due to data limitations. Using Colorado birth certificates matched to schooling outcomes, we investigate the relationship between birth spacing and educational attainment. We instrument birth spacing with a previous pregnancy that did not result in a live birth. We find no overall effect of spacing on either the first or second children’s grade 3–10 test scores. Stratifying by the sexes of the children, we find that when the first child is a boy and the second a girl, an extra year of spacing increases the first child’s math, reading, and writing test scores by 0.07–0.08 SD, while there is no impact on the second child. This is the first study to do such an analysis using matched large-scale birth and elementary to high school administrative data, and to leverage a very large dataset to stratify our results by the sexes of the children.

Keywords: Human capital; educational attainment; birth spacing; pregnancy loss; miscarriage (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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