, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Family Complexity, Siblings, and Children’s Aggressive Behavior at School Entry

  • Paula FombyEmail author
  • Joshua A. Goode
  • Stefanie Mollborn


As family structure in the United States has become increasingly dynamic and complex, children have become more likely to reside with step- or half-siblings through a variety of pathways. When these pathways are accounted for, more than one in six U.S. children live with a step- or half-sibling at age 4. We use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (N ~ 6,550) to assess the independent and joint influences of residing with a single parent or stepparent and with step- or half-siblings on children’s aggressive behavior at school entry. The influences of parents’ union status and complex sibship status on aggressive behavior are independent. Family resources partially explain the association between residing with an unpartnered mother and aggressive behavior regardless of sibship status. However, the resource hypothesis does not explain the association of complex sibship with aggressive behavior.


Family complexity Union status Siblings Aggressive behavior Early childhood 



This research is based on work supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES 1061058). Research funds were also provided by the NIH/NICHD-funded CU Population Center (R24HD066613). We thank Laura Tach and four anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on previous versions of this manuscript. All errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Fomby
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joshua A. Goode
    • 2
  • Stefanie Mollborn
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and Institute of Behavioral ScienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

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