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Can Rev Sociol. 2015 Feb;52(1):66-88. doi: 10.1111/cars.12061.

Family Structure and Children's Socioeconomic Attainment: A Canadian Sample.

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Brescia University College at Western University.


With the proliferation of different family forms in many western countries over the last few decades, research investigating the influence of family structure on children's socioeconomic status attainment has expanded dramatically, especially in the United States. The purpose of this study was to estimate the relative influence of family structure, maternal resources, and family mental health on predicting socioeconomic attainment in young adulthood. Data for this study were derived from a case-comparison, three-wave panel study of single-parent, and two-parent families living in London, Ontario, with interviews conducted in 1993 (wave 1), 1994 (wave 2), and between 2005 and 2008 (wave 3). There were virtually no differences in status attainment by family structure. Unexpectedly, however, we found that children raised in temporally stable single-parent families, and those whose mothers transitioned from a single-parent family to a two-parent family had higher socioeconomic status occupations for their longest job held than did children raised in temporally stable two-parent families. Maternal education was positively related to the likelihood that children would graduate from college/university. For those concerned with social policy, this implies that greater attention ought to be paid to addressing disparities in education and family income than to concerns with the kinds of families in which children grow up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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