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Growing up in a blended family or a stepfamily: What is the impact on education?


  • Sundström, Marianne

    () (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)


This paper studies the effects of growing up in a blended family or a stepfamily on children’s educational outcomes. I use a random sample of 40,000 Swedish children born in the mid-1960s matched to their full and half-siblings born in 1960-1970, in total 76,000 children. Childhood family and siblings structure is inferred using the censuses combined with the Swedish multigenerational register. The children are followed into adulthood and their education examined. The cross-section results indicate that growing up with half-siblings is negatively correlated with education and living with both biological parents and no half-siblings is associated with more schooling than living with a single parent or a stepparent. To assess causality I estimate sibling-difference models and find that the negative correlations disappear which is consistent with selection explaining the cross-section results. Narrowing the siblings sample to children in stable blended families reveals that joint children obtain significantly more schooling than stepchildren. In stable stepfather blended families the difference is even larger. Possible explanations for these interesting findings are that fathers are more willing and able to support their children with their current spouse and that stepfathers do not share their income equally between their biological children and their stepchildren.

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  • Sundström, Marianne, 2013. "Growing up in a blended family or a stepfamily: What is the impact on education?," Working Paper Series 2/2013, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2013_002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Erdal Tekin, 2014. "Fathers and youths’ delinquent behavior," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 327-358, June.
    2. Anders Björklund & Marianne Sundström, 2006. "Parental Separation and Children's Educational Attainment: A Siblings Analysis on Swedish Register Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(292), pages 605-624, November.
    3. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Death and Divorce: The Long-Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 682-715, July.
    5. Donna Ginther & Robert Pollak, 2004. "Family structure and children’s educational outcomes: Blended families, stylized facts, and descriptive regressions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(4), pages 671-696, November.
    6. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
    8. Eirik Evenhouse & Siobhan Reilly, 2004. "A Sibling Study of Stepchild Well-being," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
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    Family structure; stepfamilies; stepfathers; sibling differences; educational attainment;

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