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Birth order and height development in early childhood: empirical evidence of 21st century Flanders

Lieselot De Keyser (UGent) and Ronan Van Rossem (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Objective. Height is not only considered as an anthropometric detail, but it is also generally accepted as an alternative measure of well-being and standard of living in a specific context. Historical research shows a negative association between living in large families and the growth pattern of individuals before and during the demographic transition. This thesis is frequently explained by the resource dilution hypothesis. We, however, question this negative effect of birth order on growth patterns in present day society, whereas the fertility decline has stabilised and policies supporting the family are well established. Therefore, the first aim of this study is to investigate the influence of birth order on the early child development – expressed in length/height – in today’s society. Secondly, we control for socio-economic and socio-demographic parameters. Methods. We studied a longitudinal dataset of near all births in Flanders between 2006 – 2009 (N = 294,495), which covers N = 2,951,024 check-ups. We used both linear regression, logistic regression and growth curve models to estimate the five-step-model. WHO-standards, based on the LMS-method, were used to standardize the height measures. Results. Results show that the effects of birth order is significant at the 5% level but explain very little of the variation in height growth. Socio-economic indicators like educational level of the mother and deprivation of the household seem to be a part of the possible explanation. Conclusion. This contribution improves the understandings of the present-day link between birth order and early child development in Flanders. In light of historical trends, our results indicate that the effect of birth order is almost non-existent in contemporary Flanders. A part of the explanation for the changing role of birth order at the macro level can be found in the demographic transition, the fertility decline and family policy.
Keywords
anthropometry, child development, birth order, Flanders, poverty

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
De Keyser, Lieselot, and Ronan Van Rossem. “Birth Order and Height Development in Early Childhood: Empirical Evidence of 21st Century Flanders.” 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts. 2015. Print.
APA
De Keyser, L., & Van Rossem, R. (2015). Birth order and height development in early childhood: empirical evidence of 21st century Flanders. 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts. Presented at the 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015.
Chicago author-date
De Keyser, Lieselot, and Ronan Van Rossem. 2015. “Birth Order and Height Development in Early Childhood: Empirical Evidence of 21st Century Flanders.” In 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Keyser, Lieselot, and Ronan Van Rossem. 2015. “Birth Order and Height Development in Early Childhood: Empirical Evidence of 21st Century Flanders.” In 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts.
Vancouver
1.
De Keyser L, Van Rossem R. Birth order and height development in early childhood: empirical evidence of 21st century Flanders. 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts. 2015.
IEEE
[1]
L. De Keyser and R. Van Rossem, “Birth order and height development in early childhood: empirical evidence of 21st century Flanders,” in 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts, Prague, Czech Republic, 2015.
@inproceedings{6926584,
  abstract     = {Objective. Height is not only considered as an anthropometric detail, but it is also generally accepted as an alternative measure of well-being and standard of living in a specific context. Historical research shows a negative association between living in large families and the growth pattern of individuals before and during the demographic transition. This thesis is frequently explained by the resource dilution hypothesis. We, however, question this negative effect of birth order on growth patterns in present day society, whereas the fertility decline has stabilised and policies supporting the family are well established. Therefore, the first aim of this study is to investigate the influence of birth order on the early child development – expressed in length/height – in today’s society. Secondly, we control for socio-economic and socio-demographic parameters.
Methods. We studied a longitudinal dataset of near all births in Flanders between 2006 – 2009 (N = 294,495), which covers N = 2,951,024 check-ups. We used both linear regression, logistic regression and growth curve models to estimate the five-step-model. WHO-standards, based on the LMS-method, were used to standardize the height measures.
Results. Results show that the effects of birth order is significant at the 5% level but explain very little of the variation in height growth. Socio-economic indicators like educational level of the mother and deprivation of the household seem to be a part of the possible explanation. 
Conclusion. This contribution improves the understandings of the present-day link between birth order and early child development in Flanders. In light of historical trends, our results indicate that the effect of birth order is almost non-existent in contemporary Flanders. A part of the explanation for the changing role of birth order at the macro level can be found in the demographic transition, the fertility decline and family policy.},
  author       = {De Keyser, Lieselot and Van Rossem, Ronan},
  booktitle    = {12th Conference of the European Sociological Association 2015, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {anthropometry,child development,birth order,Flanders,poverty},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Prague, Czech Republic},
  title        = {Birth order and height development in early childhood: empirical evidence of 21st century Flanders},
  year         = {2015},
}