, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 101–125 | Cite as

Children’s Experiences After the Unintended Birth of a Sibling

  • Jennifer S. BarberEmail author
  • Patricia L. East


This study examines whether children with a younger sibling whose birth was unintended experience larger declines in the quality of their home environment and larger increases in behavioral problems than children whose younger sibling’s birth was intended. We use data from the NLSY79 to estimate cross-lag regression models that assess changes in the home environment and children’s behavioral problems after the birth of a sibling (intended or unintended). Results are consistent with our hypotheses, finding that, indeed, unintended births have negative spillover effects. Compared with children whose sibling’s birth was intended, both boys and girls whose sibling’s birth was unintended experienced larger declines in the quality of their home environment, and boys had larger increases in behavioral problems. We also find some unexpected evidence that mistimed births may have larger negative effects than unwanted births. This deserves further research, and we offer some possible explanations that could guide those investigations.


Unintended childbearing Child well-being Sibling effects 



This research was supported by a center grant to the University pf Michigan (R24 HD041028), R01-HD39285 from NICHD (Barber), R01-HD39285 from NICHID (East), and APR-006013 from the Office of Population Affairs (East).


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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