Social contexts and moderators of the relationship between parental separation and negative youth outcomes Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Powell, Darci
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • This dissertation examines how characteristics of the various social contexts in which youth live shape their response to parental separation and divorce. Specifically, I explore how the percent of school peers who live in alternative families, the percent of school peers who are conservatively Protestant, and the family and sibling environments modify the influence of a parental separation on youth delinquency and depression. Drawing on social ecological theories, the life course perspective, and theories of social norms, I formulate hypotheses about the modifying roles of these three contexts. Analyses using three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) show that higher percentages of school peers who live in alternative families are associated with lower delinquency rates for those who experience a parental separation only for those who live in higher socioeconomic status areas. Higher percentages of conservative Protestants in an adolescent’s school are associated with higher levels of delinquency and depression for those who experience a parental separation, regardless of socioeconomic status. Higher levels of both family and sibling closeness pre-separation are associated with increased negative outcomes for those who experience a parental separation. Altogether, these findings suggest that the normative, religious, and family contexts in which youth live have the potential to limit or exacerbate possible negative effects or parental separation. Better understanding the role of social context in shaping youth response to parental separation advances the sociological study of youth and families, and informs program and policymakers as to how interventions in the contexts in which youth live can benefit their wellbeing.
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  • In Copyright
  • Pearce, Lisa D.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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