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Birth order and mortality: a population-based cohort study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Demografiska enheten (SUDA))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7175-4040
2015 (English)In: Demography, ISSN 0070-3370, E-ISSN 1533-7790, Vol. 52, no 2, 613-639 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study uses Swedish population register data to investigate the relationship between birth order and mortality in adulthood over the ages 30 to 69 for Swedish cohorts born between 1938 and 1960, using a within-family comparison. The main analyses are conducted with discrete-time survival analysis using a within-family comparison, and the estimates are adjusted for age, mother's age at the time of birth, and cohort. Focusing on sibships ranging in size from two to six, we find that mortality risk in adulthood increases with later birth order. The results show that the relative effect of birth order is greater amongst women than amongst men. This pattern is consistent for all the major causes of death, but is particularly pronounced for mortality attributable to cancers of the respiratory system, and external causes. Further analyses where we adjust for adult socioeconomic status and adult educational attainment suggest that social pathways only mediate the relationship between birth order and mortality risk in adulthood to a limited degree.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 52, no 2, 613-639 p.
Keyword [en]
Birth order, Mortality, Sibling Comparison, Fixed Effects, Sweden, Register Data
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Demography; Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108832DOI: 10.1007/s13524-015-0377-2ISI: 000352643000011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-108832DiVA: diva2:760832
Available from: 2014-11-04 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Long-term Impact of Birth Order on Health and Educational Attainment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Long-term Impact of Birth Order on Health and Educational Attainment
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis examines the long-term impact of birth order on health, and educational attainment. Swedish register data is used to link individuals to their siblings, thereby allowing members of the sibling group to be compared to one another. This thesis consists of an introductory chapter summarizing empirical research on the relationship between birth order and educational attainment, intelligence, health, and personality, as well the theoretical frameworks that have been developed to explain those relationships. This introductory chapter is followed by four original empirical studies. The first two studies show that relative to first born siblings, later borns have lower physical fitness in late adolescence, and higher mortality in adulthood. The third study uses the Swedish registers to identify sibling groups that entirely consist of adopted individuals, and shows that the commonly observed negative relationship between birth order and educational attainment persists in these fully adopted sibling groups. These results suggest that birth order effects are likely explained by post-natal, social mechanisms within the family. Finally, the fourth study shows that even though later born siblings do worse than first borns in a fully adjusted statistical model, educational expansion in the 20th century has meant that later born siblings actually tend to have greater educational attainment and are more likely to attend university in comparison to older siblings within the same family.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2014. 115 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 59
Keyword
Birth Order, Health, Mortality, Educational Attainment, Sibling Comparison, Fixed Effects, Sweden, Register Data
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108841 (URN)978-91-7649-051-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-19, hörsal 3, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Epub ahead of print. Paper 3: Accepted. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-11-27 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2014-11-21Bibliographically approved

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