Is There Really a Trade-Off? Family Size and Investment in Child Quality in India

Mehtabul Azam 1  and Chan Hang Saing 2
  • 1 Department of Economics, Oklahoma State University & IZA, 326 Business Building, Stillwater, USA
  • 2 Cambodia Development Resource Institute, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Mehtabul Azam
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  • Department of Economics, Oklahoma State University & IZA, 326 Business Building, Stillwater, USA
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and Chan Hang Saing


We address the relationship between number of children and investment in child quality, known as quantity–quality (Q–Q) trade-off, for India. Using a number of investment and outcome measures, we find that the OLS estimates suggest the presence of Q–Q trade-offs in nine out of ten measures considered. Using the gender of the first-born child as an instrument, the trade-offs in all measures disappear. Given the concerns about the exogeneity of the instrument, we apply Oster (2016) bounds to assess the sensitivity of OLS estimates to omitted variables. We find robust trade-off estimates in three measures currently enrolled in school, years of schooling and height-for-age. The results are more robust when observing trade-offs in rural areas. Trade-offs appear in ever enrolled in school, private school attendance, expenditure on education and private coaching in addition to the trade-offs in the three measures for all India sample.

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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP) is an international forum for scholarship that employs microeconomics to analyze issues in business, consumer behavior and public policy. Topics include the interaction of firms, the functioning of markets, the effects of domestic and international policy and the design of organizations and institutions.