Discussion Papers

No.936 Revisiting Birth Order Effects on Child Health: Evidence from Bangladesh

by Takaaki Kishida, Masanori Matsuura-Kannari, Abu Hayat Md. Saiful Islam

May 2024


Despite significant economic growth in many developing countries, malnutrition in children remains a daunting challenge. Recent studies indicate that later-born children in these countries often face health disadvantages. This study reexamines the effects of birth order on child nutrition using the latest four rounds of the Demographic and Health Survey in Bangladesh. Using fixed effect models, we find a nutritional disadvantage for later-born children. Specifically, children who are second in birth order are approximately 0.055 standard deviations shorter in height and 2.7 percentage points more likely to be stunted than their first-born siblings. Additionally, our heterogeneity analysis reveals sharp differences in birth order effects across key individual and household characteristics. A negative association between birth order and height exists among girls, children in households headed by males, children in rural households, and children in poor households. Finally, we find that the birth order effect emerges two years after a child is born and can persist over the long run.

Keywords: Child Nutrition, Health, Stunting, Birth Order, DHS, Bangladesh
JEL classification: I14, I15, I18, J12, J13, O15, N35

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