Journal Article

The effect of number of siblings on adult mortality: evidence from Swedish registers for cohorts born between 1938 and 1972

Baranowska-Rataj, A., Barclay, K. J., Kolk, M.
Population Studies, 71:1, 43–63 (2017)
Open Access


Demographic research has paid much attention to the impact of childhood conditions on adult mortality. We focus on one of the key aspects of early life conditions, sibling group size, and examine the causal effect of growing up in a large family on mortality. While previous studies have focused on low- or middle-income countries, we examine whether growing up in a large family is a disadvantage in Sweden, a context where most parents have adequate resources, which are complemented by a generous welfare state. We used Swedish register data and frailty models, examining all-cause and cause-specific mortality between the ages of 40 and 74 for the 1938–72 cohorts, and also a quasi-experimental approach that exploited multiple births as a source of exogenous variation in the number of siblings. Overall our results do not indicate that growing up in a large family has a detrimental effect on longevity in Sweden.

Keywords: Sweden, family size, mortality
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.