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

Katherine Keenan*, Kieron Barclay, Alice Goisis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPopulation Studies
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date1 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Life course
  • Health
  • Mortality
  • Family size
  • Only child
  • Sibling
  • Family complexity
  • Sweden
  • Register data

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Health outcomes of only children across the life course: an investigation using Swedish register data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this