Siblings and human capital. A comparison between Italy and France

Giulia Ferrari, Università di Roma "La Sapienza"
Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, University of Padua

AIM. We study the effect of the number of siblings on educational achievement, comparing France and Italy. Previous studies show that as the number of siblings increases, the quantity (and quality) of familial resources available for each child decreases (the so called “dilution effect”). Our hypothesis is that in France – where the Government sustains financially families with two or more children, regardless their income – children’s chances are less affected by the dilution effect. In particular, we expect that the French children grown up in larger families have higher probabilities of reaching high levels of education if compared with the Italians. DATA. The data for Italy come from “Famiglia e soggetti sociali (2003)” a survey conducted by Istat among 24,000 Italian families and 50,000 people. The data for France come from the “Etude de l’Histoire Familiale (1999)” a survey conducted by Insee and Ined, among 380,000 respondents. METHOD. We have employed logistic models to analyze the force of the number of siblings and birth order on the probability of achieving at least the High School, controlling for other covariates. PRELIMINARY RESULTS. Our findings do not completely claim to the expected outcome: the dilution effect is weaker in France than in Italy, but it still persists. In general, the number of siblings determines education in the predicted direction. Being the only child or having only one sibling bears to higher probabilities of obtaining high education, even controlling for father’s occupation, mother’s work status, gender and age, in both Italy and France. Moreover, in France the effect of birth order is larger than in Italy, and the lastborns are penalized. Our results hold also if the social strata are considered separately, with the exception of French bourgeoisies, where the dilution effect is very low.

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Presented in Session 78: Education