One of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Britain will be revealed Friday in "Britain in 2011, the State of the Nation", a magazine published by the Economic and Social Research Council. One of its findings is something very interesting: happiness declines the more siblings are in a househould. I guess it makes sense!
There are many factors that come into play in a finding like this. Competition for the parents' attention or the fact that toys, sweets or space need to be shared could be the culprit. Gundi Knies from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex also pointed to other data within the study on sibling bullying: 29.5% of teenagers complained of being called "nasty names" by brothers or sisters "quite a lot" or "a lot", while 17.6% said they have their belongings taken away from them. These percentages come from analyzing in-depth questionnaires from 2,500 young Brits.
While there is also evidence that points to the benefits of siblings (i.e. supporting each other, etc), he warned that children who faced bullying both at home and in the playground were particularly vulnerable to behaviour problems and unhappiness. Dieter Wolke, who helped conduct the study, remarked, "From anecdotal reports, quarrelling siblings increase stress for parents and some just give up intervening or intervene inconsistently, leaving the field wide open for the bully sibling."
Take these results however you want, but this study may come as a relief to parents who feel guilty about the lack of brothers and sisters in the house. Does this finding match up with what you've experience?