Birth order and child nutritional status: evidence from the Philippines.
The effects of birth order on child nutritional status, both current and long-term, in the Philippines are examined using data collected as part of a multipurpose survey of 1903 households. Socioeconomic data as well as nutritional status measures by trained medical technologists were collected. Results suggest that the effects of birth order on long-term nutritional status are considerably greater than those observed in current nutritional status. Parents are unable to allocate resources over time in such a way as to offset the inevitable advantages accruing to children in earlier birth orders who are born when per capita resources are greater. The last-born child in a family of 7 has a height for age which is .5-2.5 standard deviations below that of the 1stborn. Family planning programs that reduce the size of the very largest families will reduce the numbers of severely disadvantaged children from later birth orders. Increased spacing between children should alleviate some of the strain on resources. Human resource program interventions should avoid requiring the input of large amounts of parental time which may tend to exacerbate inequality within households.