Adolescents in the United States are currently experiencing a mental health crisis. While evidence shows that parents play an important role in shaping the mental health of youth, little has been done to understand how siblings may contribute to the psychological well-being of adolescents. I examine this association through the lenses of social capital and resource dilution perspectives. Social capital theory suggests that siblings may act as an additional source of resources, such as social support, which promote positive mental health. In contrast, resource dilution theory posits that the presence of siblings decreases the availability of parental resource in a way that negatively impacts adolescent psychological well-being. Utilizing a sample of 6,454 American youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, I estimate a series of Generalized Linear Models predicting adolescent CES-D depression scores. Results, which are largely consistent with a resource dilution perspective, indicate that having three or more siblings is detrimental to the mental health of adolescents. These results indicate that interventions aimed at improving or protecting adolescent mental health should be targeted at creating networks that provide additional sources of adult social support for children from large families.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Thorpe, Jared D., "Adolescent Depressive Symptomology: Do Siblings Hurt or Help?" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8445.
adolescence, siblings, mental health, resource dilution, social capital