Birth order and delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida

Sanni Breining, Joseph Doyle, David N. Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Little is known about the role birth order plays in delinquency and adult crime outcomes that carry significant externalities. We use rich data sets from Denmark and Florida to examine these outcomes and explore potential mechanisms. Despite large environmental differences between the areas, we find remarkably consistent results: in families with two or more children, secondborn boys are 20%–40% more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system than are their firstborn male siblings. We rule out health at birth and school quality as mechanisms but find evidence for the role of parental time investment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-142
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Labor Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Economics and Econometrics


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