Menu Close

Family Size, Sex Composition and Children’s Education: Ethnic Differentials over Development in Peninsular Malaysia


Sudha, S. (1997). Family Size, Sex Composition and Children's Education: Ethnic Differentials over Development in Peninsular Malaysia. Population Studies, 51(2), 139-151.


It is widely accepted that high fertility and the associated factors of large family size and short spacing between offspring are detrimental not only to development but also to the well-being of individual children, particularly in developing regions. Most evidence for such views comes from studies of the impact of sibship size and birthspacing on infant morbidity and mortality (Trussel and Pebley 1984; Preston 1985; Pebley and Millman 1986; Bongaarts 1987, 1988). Scholars are increasingly examining the impact of large family size on other indicators of children's well-being, notably their educational attainment, expecting to find a similar negative association (for example, Knodel, Havanon and Sittitrai, 1990; Knodel and Wongsith 1991). This expectation is also reinforced by sociological and economic theories formulated in more developed contexts. These theories point to within-family resource allocation processes, such as deliberate parental 'trade-offs' between number and quality of children or inadvertent 'dilution' of educational resources among offspring, to explain the negative relationship between sibship size and schooling observed in industrialized settings (Becker and Lewis 1974; Becker and Tomes 1976; Sewell and Hauser 1977; Blake 1981; Blake 1989).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Studies


Sudha, S.