Are only-children always better in academic performance?

Best Evidence in Brief Index

By Winnie Tam, Centre for University and School Partnership, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In the aftermath of the one-child policy in China (1979-2016) having been implemented more than 30 years, some researchers found that only-children performed better academically. While most of these studies focused on only-children in urban China, Shi and colleagues conducted a study to investigate the sibling effect on rural children’s academic outcomes.

Families in rural China tend to have more children than their urban counterparts. Along with the national one-child policy, the “One-Son-Two-Kids” rule allowed rural couples to have a second child if the first one was a girl, due to cultural preference to have a son in the family. Families with one child only, therefore, were not common in rural areas.

The study was conducted in 2018. After a recruiting process, 156 grade 9 only-children from 102 classes were identified. For each only-child, one…

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