Study: Do Opposite-Sex Siblings Hamper Education?

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Children with siblings of the opposite sex may not reach educational levels as high as they would have had their siblings been of the same sex, a study suggests.

According to the study by Dalton Conley, an associate professor of sociology at New York University, "men are most disadvantaged by the presence of siblings when they have sisters, while women's educational attainment is hurt more by brothers."

Specifically, Mr. Conley found that each additional brother reduces the average woman's attainment by one-tenth of a year of education, while each additional sister hurts a woman's educational attainment by only six- hundredths of a year.

The pattern is similar for men. Each brother reduced educational attainment by about one-tenth of a year, while each sister reduced the educational level by about one-sixth of a year.

Mr. Conley based his research on the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative sample of 7,573 adults between the ages of 25 and 65. All of them had at least one sibling.

Past research on how siblings affect educational outcomes have produced mixed results. One study found that women raised with brothers did better than those raised with sisters. Another researcher found that for both male and female African-Americans, having more sisters was correlated with higher educational attainment.

Explanations Offered

Mr. Conley offers a few possible explanations for his findings. First, he suggests that having same-sex siblings may create a "competitive, achievement-oriented environment" within the home, while having siblings of the opposite sex may create a "more sociable, less aggressive environment."

Second, children who are in the gender minority may not learn to behave the way they are expected to at school. "In other words," Mr. Conley writes, "there may be a mismatch between the skills that are socialized into a boy or a girl at home and the role expectations placed upon that individual by teachers and peers at school."

He speculates that such children may receive less "gender-specific attention" to their needs than those who are part of the majority in their households.

The author says his study, which appeared in the September issue of the journal Social Science Research, should not be the final word on the topic.

Vol. 20, Issue 6, Page 3

Published in Print: October 11, 2000, as Study: Do Opposite-Sex Siblings Hamper Education?
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >