Family Size, Children’s Cognitive Test Scores and Familial Interaction: U.S., 1997-2002

John Sandberg, McGill University
Patrick Rafail, Pennsylvania State University

This research evaluates hypotheses derived from two prominent explanatory frameworks related to the well- known negative association between family size and children’s outcomes: the resource dilution and confluence models. Central to both models is the distribution of interpersonal resources, especially time children spend in interaction with parents and siblings. This research tests for potential resource dilution effects in larger families associated with differential time spent with parents and confluence effects associated with time spent with siblings on children’s scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Revised Letter-Word Identification test. Models are estimated using both cross-sectional and longitudinal fixed effects designs. Results from the cross-sectional analysis suggest important resource dilution effects associated with time parents are accessible to but not directly engaged with children.

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Presented in Session 10: Family Size and Human Capital