Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 415–429 | Cite as

A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of the Association Between Family Income and Offspring Conduct Problems

  • Brian M. D’OnofrioEmail author
  • Jackson A. Goodnight
  • Carol A. Van Hulle
  • Joseph Lee Rodgers
  • Paul J. Rathouz
  • Irwin D. Waldman
  • Benjamin B. Lahey


The study presents a quasi-experimental analysis of data on 9,194 offspring (ages 4–11 years old) of women from a nationally representative U.S. sample of households to test the causal hypotheses about the association between family income and childhood conduct problems (CPs). Comparison of unrelated individuals in the sample indicated a robust inverse association, with the relation being larger at higher levels of income and for male offspring, even when statistical covariates were included to account for measured confounds that distinguish different families. Offspring also were compared to their siblings and cousins who were exposed to different levels of family income in childhood to rule out unmeasured environmental and genetic factors confounded with family income as explanations for the association. In these within-family analyses, boys exposed to lower family income still exhibited significantly higher levels of CPs. When considered in the context of previous studies using different designs, these results support the inference that family income influences CPs, particularly in males, through causal environmental processes specifically related to earnings within the nuclear family.


Family income Conduct problems Externalizing problems Causality Quasi-experimental approaches 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian M. D’Onofrio
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jackson A. Goodnight
    • 1
  • Carol A. Van Hulle
    • 3
  • Joseph Lee Rodgers
    • 4
  • Paul J. Rathouz
    • 5
  • Irwin D. Waldman
    • 6
  • Benjamin B. Lahey
    • 5
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  4. 4.University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  5. 5.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Emory UniversityDecaturUSA

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