Household Instability During Childhood and Young Adult Outcomes
Perkins, Kristin Laurel
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CitationPerkins, Kristin Laurel. 2017. Household Instability During Childhood and Young Adult Outcomes. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation argues for a more holistic conceptualization of children’s exposure to change in their residential environments through three empirical chapters. Changes in parental romantic relationships, the focus of conventional measures of family instability, are an important component of family instability, but children are exposed to many other potentially consequential changes in the composition of their households. Non-parental changes, those involving extended family and non-relatives, also matter for children’s wellbeing. I argue that the instability in children’s residential arrangements is better captured by the theoretical concept of household complexity, rather than family instability. In addition to parental and non-parental changes in household composition, I consider a related disruption in children’s lives, residential mobility, that is rarely considered in combination with family instability and changes in household composition.
The first chapter uses the Survey of Income and Program Participation and demonstrates that more children experience changes in household composition involving non-parent, non-sibling relatives than changes involving mothers, fathers, and non-relatives combined. These changes among other relatives are an underappreciated form of family instability that previous research focused on parents and parents’ romantic partners misses. The second chapter estimates the consequences of children’s exposure to parental and non-parental changes in household composition using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and a technique to facilitate causal inference. I find that experiencing changes involving parents or non-parent, non-sibling household members has a significant negative effect on high school graduation. The third chapter conceptualizes residential mobility and changes in household composition as a compounded change and finds that children who experience the most change in household composition during childhood are also the children who have the highest rates of residential mobility. Residential mobility and changes in household composition independently and jointly reduce the likelihood of high school graduation. By accounting for non-parental changes in household composition children experience and by acknowledging the compounded nature of changes in children’s residential arrangements, this dissertation provides a more complete picture of the forces in children’s lives that help and hinder their development into young adults.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41142076
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