School Context, Family Instability, and the Academic Careers of Adolescents: The Role of Family Instability within Schools

Shannon E. Cavanagh, University of Texas at Austin
Paula Fomby, University of Colorado, Denver

The living arrangements of American children are increasingly complex. An emerging literature suggests that these complex family histories are linked with multiple domains of adolescent development. Much of this scholarship focuses on associations at the individual level. Here, we build on this work and consider whether aspects of the school context—the aggregate level of family instability within schools—moderate this link. Taking advantage of the school-based design and the retrospective reports of family structure in Add Health and the linked academic transcript data in AHHA, we explore whether being in schools with lower proportions of peers with histories of family instability is good for all students, especially those in unstable families, or if students in unstable families do worse than expected when they attend schools with a fewer peer with unstable family history. Models will be estimated in HLM.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 59: Family Structure and Child Well-Being