Birth Order and the Amount of Time Children Spend with their Parents

Joseph P Price, Cornell University

Recent research shows that the effects of birth order on an individual’s educational outcomes are very large. However, little work has been done to provide a mechanism to explain these effects. This paper examines one potential mechanism: the effect of birth order on the amount of time a child spends with his or her parents. Using the American Time Use Survey, I find that a first-born child receives 20-30 more minutes of active interaction each day with his or her parent than a second born child of the same age and from a similar family. I use the cross-sectional estimates to simulate the amount of time that a child spends with his or her parents over the first eighteen years of life. The results indicate that the first child in a two-child family will spend about 4,300 more hours interacting with his or her parents than the second born child.

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Presented in Session 145: Demographic Impacts on Parental Time with Children