Low Grades, Bad Behavior? Siblings May Be to Blame

Florida State University

Living with half or stepsiblings can result in more school-related behavioral problems for youth, according to sociology professor Kathryn Harker Tillman. She looked at the academic markers of children in a variety of sibling combinations, using longitudinal data on 11,000 American youths in grades 7 through 12 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Boys living with half or stepsiblings had grade-point averages a quarter of a point lower than boys living only with full siblings. Both boys and girls living with half or stepsiblings had more school behavioral problems, such as trouble paying attention, getting homework done and getting along with teachers and other students.

Tillman attributes the lower grades primarily to lower educational investments by the parents in stepfamilies. The study appeared in the journal Social Science Research. An overview of the study is available at or by calling (850) 644-2525.


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