Parent-Child Relationships and Demographic Outcomes Across the Life Course
This dissertation examines how parent-child relationships in adolescence shape union formation, mental health, and fertility in emerging and young adulthood, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Chapter one provides an introduction and motivation for the role of parents in the transition to adulthood. Chapter two (with Sharon Sassler) examines whether adolescent reports of maternal closeness and parental control are associated with youth’s likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging adulthood. We find that parental factors do influence emerging adults’ romantic relationships, and that they vary by race, ethnicity, and gender. Among White men, reports of maternal closeness in adolescence reduce the likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging adulthood. Parental control elevates the odds of being in an interracial or interethnic relationship among Black and Hispanic women. We also find that parental decisions on where families live shape offspring’s choices, as growing up in more diverse census tracts in adolescence is associated with interracial union formation in later life. Chapter three examines the roles of school disconnectedness and maternal relationship quality in shaping depressive symptoms from adolescence to emerging adulthood, and variations across race and ethnicity. School disconnectedness in adolescence is associated with increased depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood. Maternal warmth and communication in adolescence is also associated with decreased depressive symptoms, but only among White and Hispanic emerging adults. Maternal warmth and communication moderates the association between school disconnectedness and depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood, showing that it is an important protective factor for mental health in the transition to adulthood. Chapter four examines how individual attitudes and parent-child relationships in adolescence are associated with the likelihood of having a non-marital birth in emerging and in young adulthood. I find that individual attitudes about non-marital fertility predict the likelihood of having a non-marital birth among all women. Among minority women, I find that higher levels of maternal warmth and communication are associated with a decreased likelihood of having a non-marital birth in young adulthood. In particular, maternal warmth and communication in adolescence is associated with a decreased likelihood of having a non-marital birth in young adulthood among Black and Asian women. Chapter five concludes the dissertation and provides limitations and future directions. Collectively, this dissertation provides evidence that parent-child relationships in adolescence shape demographic outcomes in emerging and in young adulthood, and vary across race, ethnicity, and gender.
Psychology; Public policy; union formation; Sociology; Mental Health; race and ethnicity; transition to adulthood; parent-child relationships
Lichter, Daniel T.; Musick, Kelly A.
Policy Analysis and Management
Ph. D., Policy Analysis and Management
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis