Volume 23 - Article 4 | Pages 73–104

Sibship size and status attainment across contexts: Evidence from the Netherlands, 1840-1925

By Hilde Bras, Jan Kok, Kees Mandemakers

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Date received:27 Aug 2009
Date published:13 Jul 2010
Word count:7957
Keywords:19th century, child well-being, family size, Netherlands, resource dilution, sibship size, status attainment
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection “Social Mobility and Demographic Behaviour: A Long-Term Perspective” at http://www.demographic-research.org/special/10/


This paper investigates the effects of sibship size on status attainment across different contexts and subgroups. Resource dilution theory predicts that with larger sibship size, children’s status outcomes fall. However, the empirical record has shown that this is not always the case. In this paper we have tested three alternative hypotheses for neutral or even positive effects of sibship size on status attainment on the basis of a large-scale registry database covering the period of industrialization and fertility decline in the Netherlands in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century. Our findings offer support for the family developmental cycle, buffering by kin groups, and socio-economic development as alternative explanations to the resource dilution hypothesis.

Author's Affiliation

Hilde Bras - Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands [Email]
Jan Kok - Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences (VKS), the Netherlands [Email]
Kees Mandemakers - International Institute for Social History (IISH), the Netherlands [Email]

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