Are there long term consequences to growing up with few siblings? Sibship size in childhood and social life in adulthood


Dr. Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, Department of Sociology
Rank at the time of award: Assistant Professor
Dr. Douglas Downey, Department of Sociology 
Rank at the time of award:  Professor


Some scholarship has considered the potential problems low fertility may cause at the societal level, such as labor shortages and an aging population (Zachariah 2001), but surprisingly little research has explored how growing up with few siblings influences children’s ability to get along with peers and eventually develop long-term meaningful relationships in adulthood.  The primary goal of this seed grant is to assess these questions using a unique instrumental variable:  miscarriages.  This research will serve as the basis for a conference presentation, a publishable manuscript, and development of a full grant proposal for the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD). 

Publications resulting from this seed grant

2016. Bobbitt-Zeher, Donna, Douglas B. Downey, and Joseph Merry. “Number of Siblings During Childhood and the Likelihood of Divorce in Adulthood.” J Fam Issues. 2016 Nov; 37(15): 2075–2094. PMCID: PMC5098899