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Birth order and youth delinquent behaviour testing the differential parental control hypothesis in a french representative sample

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Studies on delinquent behaviour have frequently shown that firstborn children are less involved in delinquency than middle-born children. We suggest that differential parental control of the children depending on their ordinal position might account for this phenomenon. The study, carried out with a French representative sample ( n =1129), indicated that firstborns were more supervised than middle-borns. Firstborns reported less minor offences and serious offences than middle-born children. However, when sibship size and parental supervision were controlled in a subsequent analysis of covariance, the effect of ordinal position on serious offences disappeared, whereas the birth-order effect on minor offences declined but remained significant. It is concluded that ordinal position plays a moderate role in delinquent behaviour and that this effect is partly induced by differential parental control.

Keywords: Birth Order Effect; Delinquency; Ordinal Position; Parental Supervision; Sibship Size

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005


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