Family Resource Allocation after Firstborns Leave Home: Implications for Secondborns' Academic Functioning

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This study assessed secondborn adolescents' perceptions of changes in the allocation of family resources following their firstborn siblings' departure from home after high school, and whether perceived changes were related to changes over 1 year in secondborns' academic functioning. Participants were secondborn siblings (mean age = 16.58, SD = 0.91) from 115 families in which the older sibling had left the family home in the previous year. Allocation of resources was measured via coded qualitative interviews. Most (77%) secondborns reported increases in at least one type of family resource (i.e., parental companionship, attention, material goods), and many reported an increase in multiple types of resources in the year following their older sibling's departure. Consistent with resource dilution theory, perceptions of increases in fathers' companionship, fathers' attention, and mothers' companionship were related to improvements over time in secondborns' academic functioning.