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Health outcomes of only children across the life course: An investigation using Swedish register data

Keenan, KL; Barclay, K; Goisis, A; (2022) Health outcomes of only children across the life course: An investigation using Swedish register data. Population Studies: A Journal of Demography 10.1080/00324728.2021.2020886. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: Health outcomes of only children across the life course: An investigation using Swedish register data
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2021.2020886
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2021.2020886
Language: English
Additional information: 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.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137967
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