Educational Outcomes in Stepfather Families: Boundary Ambiguity, Race, and the Significance of Marriage

Megan M. Sweeney, University of California, Los Angeles

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the current research investigates the significance of parental marital status for educational outcomes among youth living with a stepfather. I first explore levels of family boundary ambiguity among White and Black adolescents living with a stepfather, as reflected in discrepancies between mothers and their adolescent offspring in reports of family structure. I next assess the robustness of conclusions regarding effects associated with living in a cohabiting versus married stepfather family to the source of family structure reports. Preliminary results point to particularly high levels of disagreement between Black adolescents and their mothers regarding the experience of cohabiting stepfamily structures. Furthermore, among Black adolescents, my results suggest that the source of family structure reports has large implications for conclusions drawn about the association between living in a cohabiting stepfather family and youth educational outcomes.

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Presented in Session 177: Multi-Partnered Fertility, Complicated Families, and Child Wellbeing