Study: “Determining the Impact of Family Size on Child Welfare Across the Developing World”
PI(s): Filmer, Deon
Co-PI(s): Friedman, Jed; Schady, Norbert
Affiliation(s): World Bank
Institutional Partner(s): World Bank
Data Source(s): Pooled DHS
Methods: IV Econometric
Geographic Location(s): Cross-Country Analysis (60+ countries)
Much development aid for the past 40 years has been devoted to family planning based on the assumption that information and supply constraints for contraceptive services result in larger families than desired. Consequently, the welfare of each child in a large family suffers due to more limited household resources. However, it is not clear that larger families experience worse outcomes than smaller families, especially if older children play a role in household production or if the marginal cost of child investment is low. This research provides an improved understanding of the relationship between fertility and child welfare in developing countries. The research team analyzed over 120 household surveys from more than 60 developing countries using DHS data to explore the impact of family size on child welfare outcomes. Findings show that in Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries, families with a greater number of female children are more likely to have an additional child, and this likelihood increases with more children born. However, in Latin American countries, there appears to be a desire for at least one child of each gender. These findings can help inform future policies related to child investments including the targeting of health or education subsidies or conditional aid transfers.
Filmer, Deon, Friedman, Jed & Schady, Norbert. (2008). Development, Modernization, and Son Preference in Fertility Decisions (World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4716).
Filmer, Deon, Friedman, Jed & Schady, Norbert. (2009). Development, Modernization, and Childbearing: The Role of Family Sex Composition. The World Bank Economic Review, 23(3), 371-398. DOI: 10.1093/wber/lhp009