Children's well-being: a longitudinal analysis of the effects of family life on children's outcomes postdivorce

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Children's well-being: a longitudinal analysis of the effects of family life on children's outcomes postdivorce

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Title: Children's well-being: a longitudinal analysis of the effects of family life on children's outcomes postdivorce
Author: Stephens, Linda S
Abstract: Although a number of studies have examined children's well-being postdivorce, such studies have commonly used non-representative samples and simple cross-sectional designs. To date, analyses of children's well-being after divorce have also been hampered by a lack of data on family characteristics, parenting patterns, and spousal relationships during marriage. Those studies which have considered these characteristics have employed retrospective measures which may be biased. Other studies have not been able to include any measures of family life during marriage, e.g., parental discord, and consequently, could only theorize as to why children should have lower levels of well-being before their parents separated. This analysis overcomes many of these difficulties because it employs a representative national sample, provides data on the same families over time, and includes a rich variety of indicators.The analyses of children's behavioral outcomes, emotional problems, and of the parent-child relationship employ five explanatory perspectives of children's well-being postdivorce: family structure, mothers' involvement, family economic status, children's prior well-being, and marital relationship.The results of these analyses are very encouraging for parents and for policymakers interested in promoting children's well-being. In the case of the behavioral outcomes, the family economic status and the mothers' involvement perspective are most useful in explaining the probability that children would engage in any of the behaviors. Although the parents' marital status has some effect on a few of the outcomes, the effect is quite minor. The predicted probabilities of most of behavioral outcomes suggest that mothers' educational attainment and the frequency of their positive interactions are much more important to good outcomes for the children.For the children's other outcomes, the prior well-being perspective appears to be most useful. By that, I mean there appears to be a great deal of continuity between the children's well-being at the time of the first interview and their well-being at the time of the second interview. Likewise continuity in relationship quality between various members of the family is important in explaining the relationship between mothers and their children.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1996
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/8884

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