Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 957–978 | Cite as

Older siblings and adolescent risky behavior: does parenting play a role?

  • Susan L. Averett
  • Laura M. Argys
  • Daniel I. Rees
Original Paper


Children with older siblings are more likely to engage in risky behavior than their firstborn counterparts. Although the relationship between birth order and risky behavior may reflect the influence of older siblings, it is also possible that parents supervise later-born children less than firstborns. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine whether the association between birth order and risky adolescent behavior is driven by differences in the level of parental supervision. Firstborns are supervised more than their later-born siblings, but this difference does not explain the relationship between having an older sibling and risky behavior.


Adolescents Parental supervision Risky behavior 

JEL Classification

I12 J12 J13 



The authors would like to thank several anonymous referees for insightful comments. They would also like to thank Asia Sikora and Dani Simova for excellent research assistance and to acknowledge support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, contract number HD047661. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan L. Averett
    • 1
  • Laura M. Argys
    • 2
  • Daniel I. Rees
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsLafayette CollegeEastonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Colorado-DenverDenverUSA

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