Discussion paper

DP10607 Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India

Using data from nationally representative household surveys, we test whether Indian parents make trade-offs between the number of children and investments in education and health of their children. To address the endogeneity due to the joint determination of quantity and quality of children by parents, we instrument family size with the gender of the first child which is plausibly random. Given a strong son-preference in India, parents tend to have more children if the first born is a girl. Our IV results show that children from larger families have lower educational attainment and are less likely to have ever been enrolled and to be currently enrolled in school, even after controlling for parents? characteristics and birth-order of children. The effects are larger for rural, poorer and low-caste families and for families with less educated mothers. On the other hand, we find no evidence of a trade-off for health outcomes.


Kugler, A and S Kumar (eds) (2015), “DP10607 Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 10607. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10607