Playing Well with Others in China: The Effects of Having Siblings

Toni Falbo, University of Texas at Austin
Kokyung Soon, University of Texas at Austin
Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Texas A&M University

Downey & Condron (2004) reported that children living without siblings lacked social skills, but excelled in academic skills, based on a nationally representative sample of American kindergarteners. This finding has implications for China, where the one-child policy has been in effect since 1979. In 1990, a survey of a representative sample of schoolchildren from four provinces in China was conducted in order to evaluate social and academic skills. The children’s social skills were assessed by their teachers, parents, peers, and themselves. The children’s academic characteristics were assessed by standard tests of verbal and math skills, as well as school-based evaluations. A reanalysis of these data repeats the finding of advantages for children without siblings in academic skills. In terms of social skills, however, third grade only children are advantaged, but this advantage disappears or reverses by sixth grade. Cultural and maturational explanations for these findings are offered and tested.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Union Formation and Dissolution, Fertility, Family and Well-being