Institutions in Childhood and the Transition to Adulthood: Consequences of Criminal Justice and Child Welfare System Contact in the United States

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This dissertation investigates the implications of foster care placement and incarceration for living arrangement transitions and health in early life. First, I use the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to propose an expanded conceptualization of home-leaving that incorporates institutional transitions typically excluded from such analyses. Using life table and regression analysis, I find that this institution-inclusive measure estimates earlier first home-leaving in the transition to adulthood than conventional methods, particularly for young adults who are Black and have lower levels of parental education. Second, I use inverse probability-weighted regression and the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing to estimate associations between foster care placement and care and living arrangement instability among children with similar risks of entry into foster care. Although foster care is associated with greater instability overall, analysis of only “excess” changes finds that foster care is linked to less instability in children’s living arrangements and persistently greater instability in their primary caregiver relationships. Finally, the third chapter uses linked administrative data from New York City to estimate associations and causal effects of gestational paternal incarceration on infant birth outcomes. Counter to prior research on paternal incarceration and health, I find evidence of negative effects of paternal incarceration on likelihoods of adverse infant birth outcomes. Combined, these analyses situate experiences of institutionally involved children and families within a broader understanding of family life and health in the United States.
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172 pages
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Children; Family; Foster care; Health; Incarceration; Living arrangements
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Lichter, Daniel T
Wildeman, Christopher
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Hall, Matthew
York Cornwell, Erin
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Ph. D., Sociology
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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