A Sibling Study of Stepchild Well-being
Examining 33 indicators of well-being from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we conclude that stepchildren’ s inferior outcomes are not entirely explained by sample selection. Using sibling comparisons to control for unobserved family characteristics, we identify stepparent effects by comparing half-siblings in families in which one child has both parents and the other a parent and stepparent. Most estimated effects retain their sign after differencing across siblings, and a third remain statistically significant. The estimates’ sensitivity to the choice of indicator suggests that studies based on a single measure of child wellbeing may be misleading.
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