Multiple Caregiver Transitions and Early Union Formation

Jennifer Buher Kane, Pennsylvania State University
Alan Booth, Pennsylvania State University

The link between multiple transitions in caregivers and child well-being is well established, but the extent to which these effects persist into emerging adulthood has been under-explored. Using longitudinal data from Add Health, this study investigates the influence of multiple transitions in caregivers on early union formation (either marital or cohabiting) and early births. These relationships are considered through two perspectives: social stress theory and selection effects. Findings support previous literature in that selection effects exist, but social stress theory dominates this relationship overall. This study also contributes several new findings: direct effects of transitions on both types of early family formation are observed for black and nonblack females alike, and these relationships are mediated by measures of social isolation and acting out behaviors. These relationships are extremely similar across various measures of caregiver transitions (i.e., exits, entries, early childhood transitions, and clustered transitions), suggesting these findings are rather robust.

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Presented in Session 73: Transition to Adulthood