Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 474–485 | Cite as

Perceived Social Support and Academic Achievement: Cross-Lagged Panel and Bivariate Growth Curve Analyses

  • Sean P. Mackinnon
Empirical Research


As students transition to post-secondary education, they experience considerable stress and declines in academic performance. Perceived social support is thought to improve academic achievement by reducing stress. Longitudinal designs with three or more waves are needed in this area because they permit stronger causal inferences and help disentangle the direction of relationships. This study uses a cross-lagged panel and a bivariate growth curve analysis with a three-wave longitudinal design. Participants include 10,445 students (56% female; 12.6% born outside of Canada) transitioning to post-secondary education from ages 15–19. Self-report measures of academic achievement and a generalized measure of perceived social support were used. An increase in average relative standing in academic achievement predicted an increase in average relative standing on perceived social support 2 years later, but the reverse was not true. High levels of perceived social support at age 15 did not protect against declines in academic achievement over time. In sum, perceived social support appears to have no bearing on adolescents’ future academic performance, despite commonly held assumptions of its importance.


Academic achievement Grades Social support Gender Immigrant Longitudinal Adolescent 



The author would like to thank Victor Theissen and Heather Hobson for their valuable help when navigating Statistics Canada datasets and procedures. He was supported by a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and an honorary Izaak Walton Killam Level II Scholarship. While the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada.


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Life Sciences CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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