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Marital Quality and Parent-Adolescent Relationships: Effects on Educational Outcomes for Youth

Publication Date
Dec 14, 2008

This research examines the effects of parental marital quality and the quality of the parent-child relationship on the educational progress of adolescents. Previous research indicates that family structure and economic capacity have significant effects on educational achievement and high school graduation rates. Few studies, however, have examined the effects of the quality of the parental relationship on educational outcomes. This study is built on the bioecological and social capital theories of human development that suggest that the capacity for child and youth development is enhanced when their primary relationships are supportive and provide them with social assets that encourage human capital development. The study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort (NLSY97), a nationally representative sample of adolescents who are being followed into adulthood. The findings indicate that family stability and living with two biological parents is a stronger predictor of high school graduation than parent marital quality and the quality of the parent-child relationship. But the data also indicate that parent marital quality and the quality of the parent-child relationship has a strong and positive effect on post-secondary education access among those who do graduate from high school. These findings are interpreted in light of the contribution of relationship quality to further educational involvement and the implications this has for workforce development and successful labor force competition in a global economy. [31 PDF pages]