Strategic parenting, birth order, and school performance

V. Joseph Hotz, Juan Pantano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Fueled by new evidence, there has been renewed interest about the effects of birth order on human capital accumulation. The underlying causal mechanisms for such effects remain unsettled. We consider a model in which parents impose more stringent disciplinary environments in response to their earlier-born children’s poor performance in school in order to deter such outcomes for their later-born offspring. We provide robust empirical evidence that school performance of children in the National Longitudinal Study Children (NLSY-C) declines with birth order as does the stringency of their parents’ disciplinary restrictions. When asked how they will respond if a child brought home bad grades, parents state that they would be less likely to punish their later-born children. Taken together, these patterns are consistent with a reputation model of strategic parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-936
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 29 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth order
  • Grades
  • Parental rules
  • Parenting
  • School performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Economics and Econometrics


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