Death of a Sibling in Early Life and Health of the Survivor Sibling in Later Adulthood

Daphne Kuo, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This study is to examine the long-term consequences of death of a sibling on the health of the survivor siblings in later adulthood using a modern data with rich information on family environment, SES, and life events. Using Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), I found that experiencing the death of a sibling before age 36 had direct and robust harming effects on many measures of physical health of men and women at age 50 after controlling for childhood family environment (SES, family configuration, and others), socioeconomic attainment in adulthood, and other important life events. Next, I explore some possible explanations on the associations using information on all deceased siblings in WLS, including dissecting the effects of the death by the age and the cause of the death and looking into the associations between the sibling’s death, early parental death (before age 50), family medical history, and childhood health of the respondents.

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Presented in Session 119: Intergenerational Determinants of Health