Effects of sibling number on child outcome

  • Heer D
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This article reviews studies concerning the impact of sibling number on aselected series of outcomes including IQ, educational attainment, status ofcurrent job, and current earnings, Sibling number is a variable over time andcannot be properly measured unless data are available on the number andtiming of all births and the age at which each child in the family ceases to bedependent. Unfortunately, existing research is too much based on secondaryanalysis of data sets for which all of the requisite information is not available.Controversies surround the question whether there is a causal impact of siblingnumber on IQ and, if so, how it can be explained; these are reviewed in detail.Research on the impact of sibling number on the other three dependent variables is reviewed, particularly where it contributes to our knowledge of theimpact on educational attainment net of IQ, on job status net of educationattainment, and on current earnings net of job status. It is concluded thatdecisions on the number and spacing of children are among the most importantdecisions parents can make. Therefore the large amounts of funds needed fordata collection will be funds well spent.

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  • David M Heer

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