Health outcomes of only children across the life course : an investigation using Swedish register data
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Only children (with no full biological siblings) are a growing subgroup in many high-income settings. Previous studies have largely focused on the short-term developmental outcomes of only children, but there is limited evidence on their health outcomes. Using Swedish population register data for cohorts born 1940–75, we compare the health of only children with that of children from multi-child sibling groups, taking into account birth order, family size, and presence of half-siblings. Only children showed lower height and fitness scores, were more likely to be overweight/obese in late adolescence, and experienced higher later-life mortality than those with one or two siblings. However, only children without half-siblings were consistently healthier than those with half-siblings, suggesting that parental disruption confers additional disadvantages. The health disadvantage was attenuated but not fully explained by adjustment for parental characteristics and after using within-family maternal cousin comparison designs.
Keenan , K , Barclay , K & Goisis , A 2022 , ' Health outcomes of only children across the life course : an investigation using Swedish register data ' , Population Studies , vol. Latest Articles . https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2021.2020886
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DescriptionThis work was partially supported by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland [RIG008234] awarded to Katherine Keenan and by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/S002103/1] to Alice Goisis. This work was also supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) via the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences (SIMSAM), grant 340-2013-5164.
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