Sibling, peer, neighbor, and schoolmate correlations as indicators of the importance of context for adolescent development

Demography. 2001 Aug;38(3):437-47. doi: 10.1353/dem.2001.0026.


We use nationally representative data to calculate correlations in achievement and delinquency between genetically differentiated siblings within a family, between peers as defined by adolescents' "best friend" nominations, between schoolmates living in the same neighborhood, and between grademates within a school. We find the largest correlations between siblings, especially identical twins. Grademate and neighbor correlations are small. Peer-based correlations are considerably larger than grademate and neighbor correlations but not larger than most sibling correlations. The data suggest that family-based factors are several times more powerful than neighborhood and school contexts in affecting adolescents' achievement and behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nuclear Family / psychology*
  • Peer Group*
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Social Environment