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John E. Knodel photo

Family Size and Children's Education in Thailand: Evidence from a National Sample

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E., and Malinee Wongsith. "Family Size and Children's Education in Thailand: Evidence from a National Sample." PSC Research Report No. 89-168. December 1989.

Considerable evidence has been amassed recently documenting a negative effect of family size on children's educational attainment in the United States and other economically advanced countries. The primary reason thought to underlie this effect has been referred to as "the dilution hypothesis," namely that with larger numbers of children, familial resources available to an individual child in the family are increasingly reduced. This paper explores this hypothesis, not in a developed country, but in Thailand, where in recent decades there has been both a rapid decline in fertility and a rapid increase in educational levels experienced by successive cohorts. The study is based on data from the 1987 Thailand Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS), which involved interviews with a nationally representative sample of 6775 married women aged 15-49. This paper focuses on three measures of educational attainment of children: (1) the proportion who enter lower secondary school among all children aged 12 and above; (2) the proportion who continue to upper secondary schooling among children aged 15 and above who enter lower secondary school; and (3) the proportion who enter upper secondary schooling among all children aged 15 and above. Study results indicate that a substantial inverse association exists in Thailand between family size and children's education. In a culture in which the burden of paying for children's education falls on the parents themselves and in which education beyond the compulsory levels is viewed as a necessity for making a better living, this would seem to support the "dilution hypothesis."

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