Sibling Delinquency and the Family Environment: Shared and Unshared Influences


Address correspondence to David C. Rowe, School of Family and Consumer Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. We acknowledge the support of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant R01-HD21973.


Few family studies of delinquency have focused on siblings. We use a sibling research design to evaluate shared (i.e., family) and unshared environmental influences on delinquency. The 15–22-year-old adolescent siblings were nationally representative, and uniquely, in families of 2 to 4 siblings. No unshared family environmental influences were found for sisters and for mixed-sex siblings, but they may exist for brothers. The data suggested substantial shared environmental and/or shared genetic influences for siblings: the median sibling correlations, averaged over family sizes, were: brothers, r= .30; sisters, r= .28; and mixed sex, r= .21.