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Children's Experiences after the Unintended Birth of a Sibling

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionBarber, Jennifer S., and Patricia East. 2007. "Children's Experiences after the Unintended Birth of a Sibling." PSC Research Report No. 07-625. June 2007.

This study examined whether children with a younger sibling whose birth was unintended experience larger declines in the quality of their home environment and larger increases in behavioral problems than children whose younger sibling’s birth was intended. We use data from the NLSY79, which involved approximately 1,500 children who experienced a sibling’s birth. We estimate crosslag regression models to assess changes in the home environment and children’s behavioral problems after the birth of a sibling (intended or unintended). Results were consistent with our hypotheses, such that compared to boys and girls whose sibling’s birth was intended, children whose sibling’s birth was unintended experienced larger declines in the quality of their home environment, and boys had larger increases in behavioral problems. These associations were limited to children whose sibling’s birth was mistimed, and were not observed for children whose younger sibling’s birth was unwanted. The effects of unintended childbearing, and of mistimed births particularly, on siblings are discussed.

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