Department of Economics and Business Economics

Birth Order and Delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida

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  • Sanni Nørgaard Breining
  • ,
  • Joseph Doyle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NBER, National Bureau of Economic Research
  • ,
  • David N. Figlio, Northwestern University, NBER, United States
  • Krzysztof Karbownik, Emory University, NBER, United States
  • Jeffrey Roth, University of Florida, United States

Little is known about the role birth order plays in delinquency and adult crime outcomes that carry significant externalities. We use rich data sets from Denmark and Florida to examine these outcomes and explore potential mechanisms. Despite large environmental differences between the areas, we find remarkably consistent results: in families with two or more children, secondborn boys are 20%–40% more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system than are their firstborn male siblings. We rule out health at birth and school quality as mechanisms but find evidence for the role of parental time investment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Labor Economics
Pages (from-to)95-142
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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