Birth Order and Human Capital Development: Evidence from Ecuador

Published in: Journal of Human Resources 49 (2). (2014). 359-392. (with Monique de Haan and Jose Rosero)

In this paper we examine the effect of birth order on human capital development in Ecuador using a large national database on beneficiaries of social assistance programs together with self-collected survey data. With family fixed effects models, we find that earlier born children stay behind in their human capital development from infancy to adolescence. If we turn to potential mechanisms, we find that earlier born children receive less time from their mothers than later born children. In addition, they are breastfed shorter. Our estimates further suggest that poverty plays an important role in explaining the observed birth order patterns; that is, we find the largest birth order effects for children in their teens who grow up in poor families, with low-educated parents.

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