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Birth Order and the Decline in College Completion among the Baby Boom Generation

Handy, Christopher and Shester, Katharine (2021): Birth Order and the Decline in College Completion among the Baby Boom Generation.

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Abstract

We show that changes in birth order during the U.S. baby boom can explain a substantial share of the decline and recovery in college completion among cohorts born between 1946 and 1974. Combining birth order effects estimated using the Health and Retirement Survey and birth order data from Vital Statistics, we estimate that changes in birth order can explain more than 20 percent of the decline in white male college completion rates among the 1946–1960 cohorts, and more than one third of the rebound among the 1960–1974 cohorts.

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