School Competence among Adolescents in Low-Income Families: Does Parenting Style Matter?

  • Anja Johnsen
  • Ragnhild Bjørknes
  • Anette Christine Iversen
  • Mona Sandbæk
Original Paper


In the present study, we investigated parenting styles and self-perceived school competence among low-income adolescents in Norway. The purpose of the study was threefold: (1) to identify differences, if any, in self-perceived school competence between low-income ethnic Norwegians and low-income ethnic minorities; (2) to determine differences, if any, in the perception of parenting styles between the groups; and (3) to determine if parenting styles predict self-perceived school competence in the two groups. The sample consisted of 253 adolescents 12–18 years of age; 130 adolescents were ethnic Norwegians, and 123 were from ethnic minorities. Self-perceived school competence was measured using the Scholastic Competence subscale of Harter’s Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents. Perception of parenting style was measured with the following three scales: support, monitoring and neglect. An independent-samples t-test revealed that ethnic minorities reported higher levels of self-perceived school competence than did ethnic Norwegians. No significant difference between the groups in their perception of parenting styles was observed. Support and monitoring were positively correlated with school competence, whereas neglect was negatively correlated with school competence. When all three parenting styles were entered separately into standard multiple regression analyses for the two groups, a high degree of perceived neglect significantly predicted low self-perceived school competence in both groups. This finding indicates how schools and policy makers can explore the types of support that families may need to adopt better upbringing styles.


Parenting styles Self-perceived school competence Poverty Ethnic minority adolescents Nordic countries 



We gratefully acknowledge NOVA and OsloMet for the collected data material we obtained regarding the present study. Further we acknowledge Aleris Care Norway and the Wøyen Foundation for the financial support. In addition, we want to thank biostatistician and professor Stein Atle Lie for useful comments, supervision and input regarding the analysis.

Author Contributions

A. J. was the main author of the paper and performed the statistical analyses in collaboration with R. B. and A. C. I. R. B. collaborated on the writing of the paper, the analyses, and provided substantial contributions in terms of drafting the manuscript and editing the final manuscript. A. C. I. collaborated on the writing of the paper, the analyses, and provided substantial contributions in terms of drafting the manuscript and editing the final manuscript. M. S. was the Project Manager of the main study, collaborated on the editing of the manuscript, and provided substantial contributions in terms of drafting the manuscript and critically revising it throughout the whole writing process.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Oslo Metropolitan University and NOVA provided IRB approval for the study in collaboration with the University of Bergen.

Informed Consent

In this study, we used data from the main study Children’s level of living – the impact of family incomes; therefore, there was no direct contact with human participants. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the main study, whereas both the parents and the child were required to consent to the child’s participation in the study (Sandbæk 2009; Sandbæk and Pedersen 2010).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion and DevelopmentUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.The Child Welfare, Equality and Social Inclusion Research Group (BLI)University of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan UniversityOsloNorway

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