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Death Stud. 2001 Jul-Aug;25(5):419-43.

Childhood family disruptions and adult well-being: the differential effects of divorce and parental death.

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University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA.


This study draws on attachment theory and social learning theory and uses data from the National Survey of Families and Households to examine the differential effects of childhood family disruptions on adult well-being. Comparisons are made between adults who experienced parental divorce, adults who experienced parental death, and adults who were raised in intact families (N = 4,341). The present study differs from previous research by making direct comparisons between different family disruption groups, assessing the effects of family disruptions that occur before age 19, and including multiple measures of adult well-being as dependent variables. Consistent with hypotheses and inferences made from comparisons with adults from intact families, adults who experienced parental divorce report lower levels of parent-child relationship quality, higher levels of self-confidence, and lower levels of depression than adults who experienced parental death during childhood. Therefore, studies that fail to take type of childhood family disruption into account will lead to inaccurate and misleading conclusions about the effects of these experiences on adult outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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