Using a large-scale Dutch national sample (N = 7,126), the authors examine the importance of similarities and differences in the sibling dyad for the provision of support. Similarities are assumed to enhance attraction and empathy; differences are assumed to be related to different possibilities for exchange. For helping with housework, helping with odd jobs, giving advice, and showing interest, logistic regression models are estimated and similarities and differences in gender, age, educational level, partner status, and whether the siblings have children are examined. The authors find only limited corroboration for the relevance of similarities, both siblings being sisters, or both being childless. Validation for the importance of differences is found, relating to different roles. For instance, older siblings are more supportive toward their younger siblings than the other way around, and the childless support their parenting siblings, especially in young adulthood.

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Journal of Family Issues
Department of Sociology

Voorpostel, M., van der Lippe, T., Dykstra, P., & Flap, H. (2007). Similar or different?: The importance of similarities and differences for support between siblings. Journal of Family Issues, 28(8), 1026–1053. doi:10.1177/0192513X07300713