Journal of Family Issues

Glenna D. Spitze* & Katherine Trent*

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Abstract: Data from the first two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households are used to examine how individual sibling relationships change in response to life events in a gendered context. We find union formation is associated with a decline in sibling visits, as is transitioning from part- to full-time work. Becoming a parent increases support from a sibling and remaining childless over time is associated with more exchanges of support. Parental death decreases support to a sibling. Moving farther away lowers the number of visits, exchanges of support, and frequency of phoning or writing. However, for most of the life events examined, we find no significant effects on sibling relationships and little evidence that gender of siblings influences the effects of life events on sibling relationships. We conclude that the nature of individual sibling relationships remains relatively stable in the face of life events.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates and Staff