Tim Riswick

PhD Dissertation

Between Rivalry and Support. The impact of Brothers and Sisters on Infant and Child Mortality Risks in Taiwan and the Netherlands, 1860-1945.

Although the historical Dutch and Taiwanese populations studied are very different, sibship size and composition influenced the survival of infants and children in both. In general, the presence of siblings led to higher infant and child mortality risks. This is in line with what we know about sibling rivalry and parental investment, which suggest that parents need to make decisions regarding the amount of resources to allocate to each child. Yet, my study also demonstrates that the way siblings influenced infant and child mortality risks differs within and between the Netherlands and Taiwan due to regional variation in economic conditions, cultural norms, and household organisation. My dissertation therefore gives insight into the conditions under which siblings have an effect on the creation of health inequalities. This is important, since this subject not only has broad implications for how we understand the lives of our predecessors, but also those of ourselves.

Download it here.