Torkild Lyngstad: "The Production of Inequalities within Families and across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order on Educational Attainment"

In this journal article, published in European Sociological Review, Torkild Lyngstad and co-authors ask whether birth order in the parental generation influences the educational attainment of their children. 

Front page of European sociological review, volume 37, number 4


There has long been interest in the extent to which effects of social stratification extend and persist across generations. Lyngstad and co-authors take a novel approach to this question by asking whether birth order in the parental generation influences the educational attainment of their children. To address this question, they use Swedish population data on cohorts born 1960–1982. To study the effects of parental birth order, they use cousin fixed effects comparisons. In analyses where they compare cousins who share the same biological grandparents to adjust for unobserved factors in the extended family, they find that having a later-born parent reduces educational attainment to a small extent. For example, a second or fifth-born mother reduces educational attainment by 0.09 and 0.18 years, respectively, while having a second- or fifth-born father reduces educational attainment by 0.04 and 0.11 years, respectively. After adjusting for attained parental education and social class, the parental birth order effect is practically attenuated to zero. Overall their results suggest that parental birth order influences offspring educational and socioeconomic outcomes through the parents own educational and socioeconomic attainment. They cautiously suggest that parental birth order may have potential as an instrument for parental socioeconomic status in social stratification research more generally.

Read the full article.

Tags: Family, education By European Sociological Review
Published Feb. 14, 2022 1:58 PM - Last modified Feb. 17, 2022 1:47 PM