Parental resources, sibship size and educational performance in 20 countries: Evidence for the compensation model

Antti Tanskanen, Jani Erola & Johanna Kallio


We study whether having several siblings decreases the level of educational performance of the second generation and whether this phenomenon can be compensated by other factors such as the economic or cultural resources of the parents. Based on this compensation model, parental resources should be associated with children’s educational attainments more strongly in families with a higher rather than a lower number of children. We analyzed the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from 20 Western countries and found that better family wealth, an increased level of parental education and a higher parental occupational status were associated with increased educational attainments more strongly among 15-year-old children who have siblings than among children without siblings. The same effect was not found in the case of family cultural possessions. Although parental resources may matter more in larger families than in smaller families, some types of resources are more important than others regarding compensation.

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