Children from larger families, particularly boys, suffer an educational disadvantage compared with children from families of a smaller size. That is the central finding ofresearch by Dr Julie Moschion and colleagues, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society''s 2014 annual conference.


The researchers have examined the educational outcomes of over 1,800 Australianschool children in Year 3 (8/9 year olds) and Year 5 (10/11 year olds). They find that children from families with three or more siblings have reading scores 4% lower and numeracy scores 5% lower than the average score of children from smaller families.

The study also examines teachers'' attitudes towards children. It finds that teachers have a lower assessment of the educational achievements of children from larger families. In particular, teachers tend to believe that boys from larger families are doing worse in class than other children.

Dr Julie Moschion, co-author of the study by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne, comments:


''Educational penalties for children from larger families occur – and the effect is greater for boys than girls. The size of a family is an often neglected issue in thediscussion of educational outcomes.


''Underlining the educational penalties suffered by children is the first step in understanding the difficulties faced by children from larger families and serves to assist future educational training.''


The research analyses data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, anational study designed to provide an in-depth understanding of children''s development, and the Australian National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, which assesses all Australian school children in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

 ''The Impact of Family Size on School Achievement: Test Scores and Subjective Assessments by Teachers and Parents'' by Dr Julie Moschion and colleagues