Changing Sibling Relationships After Parents' Death: The Role of Solidarity and Kinkeeping

M. Kalmijn, T. Leopold

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The solidarity hypothesis predicts a short‐term strengthening of sibling relationships after parental death, whereas the kinkeeping hypothesis predicts a long‐term weakening of sibling relationships after parental death.
Hypotheses were tested with fixed effects regression models using four waves of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (2003–2015; N = 3,812 respondents), a nationally representative sample of individuals in the Netherlands. This survey combined data on sibling ties with data on intergenerational ties to (surviving) parents.
Consistent with the solidarity hypothesis, results showed that sibling contact intensified after parental death. The increase lasted longer after losing the first parent and was partially explained by changes in contact with and support to the surviving parent. After the death of the second parent, contact and conflict between siblings increased, but these effects were short‐lived. In line with the kinkeeping hypothesis, sibling relations among adult orphans faded in the long run.
Changes in horizontal ties between siblings followed to a large extent from changes in vertical ties between siblings and their parents.
Sibling ties can be understood better when they are studied in the context of the larger family network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-114
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • death
  • intergenerational relationships
  • parents
  • siblings


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