, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 205-222

Family structure, economic status, and educational attainment

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Abstract.

This study examines the effect of family structure on high school graduation by race and gender using data from the first twenty-one waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and recently available retrospective marital histories. The nature of the data allows for a more complete specification of family structure than has been heretofore possible. The analysis tests the hypothesis that the negative effect on educational attainment often associated with living in a mother-only or stepfather family stems primarily from the reduced level of economic resources available to these households. Empirical findings indicate that living with a widowed, divorced, or separated mother has little or no effect on educational attainment once we control for economic status. However, living in a stepfather family appears to have a persistent negative effect on high school graduation rates.

Received: 24 July 1995 / Accepted: 9 September 1997