Sibling Bonds Can Predict Education Completion

June 19, 2018

Sibling relationships can predict similarities and differences in higher education completion, according to a new study at Pennsylvania State University.

The study found that siblings who show more warmth toward each other during childhood are more likely to complete similar levels of education later in life. When two siblings felt that parents' treatment of them or their sibling was unfair, or when a father spent more time with one child than the other, they completed different levels of education.

Researchers followed the two oldest siblings from 152 families in central Pennsylvania and first interviewed the siblings when they were an average of 11.8 and 9.2 years old to ask questions about their sibling relationships, preferential treatment from parents and how much time each child spent alone with each parent. The researchers checked in with the families again at 26 years old to ask about each sibling's highest level of completed education.

"When two people are closer to each other, they tend to treat each other as role models," Xiaoran Sun, a doctoral candidate in human development and family studies, said in a press release. "And this could be for better or for worse. They can be 'partners in crime,' as some prior work suggests, or partners in achievement, as we found. It's not that siblings who are close are more likely to graduate from college, they're just more likely to end up with the same level of education, either graduating from college or not."

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