Three essays on economic instability, social context & outcomes in early adulthood

Laryssa Mykyta, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the effects of economic disadvantage and economic instability on educational and family outcomes in early adulthood. In two related essays, I explore the influence of childhood poverty exposure on educational attainment (Chapter 2) and homeleaving (Chapter 3) in early adulthood using data from the children of the female respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. I apply Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological framework and examine the extent to which family processes, peer and school contexts and neighborhood environment serve as mechanisms through which childhood poverty shapes these outcomes. In Chapter 2, I find that persistent and long-term childhood poverty reduce educational attainment even when family and school contexts are considered. Further, peer environment in early adolescence appears to reduce the influence of poverty exposure on educational attainment in early adulthood more than family processes or school context. In Chapter 3, I find that persistent and long-term childhood poverty is directly associated with the likelihood of leaving home by age 20 for reasons other than school attendance, even after family processes, peer and school contexts and neighborhood environment are considered. In contrast to results for Chapter 2, I find peer, school and neighborhood contexts do not reduce the association between childhood poverty and homeleaving; instead, family processes mediate the association between childhood poverty exposure and the path to homeleaving somewhat. ^ In Chapter 4, I examine the effect of economic instability on relationship dissolution and among married and cohabiting parents using four waves of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Few studies have compared differences in relationship stability among married and cohabiting parents who have just had a child. My results highlight the importance of economic circumstances and social norms regarding fathers' role as breadwinner in shaping relationship stability for married parents. I also find that relationship quality mediates the effects of economic strain on relationship outcomes. Further, differences in the determinants of relationship stability and relationship quality for married and cohabiting parents suggest that marriage and cohabitation remain two distinct institutions even for those who have selected into parenthood. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Demography

Recommended Citation

Mykyta, Laryssa, "Three essays on economic instability, social context & outcomes in early adulthood" (2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3414126.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3414126

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