Socioeconomic (Dis)advantage, Contextual Risk and Educational Outcomes in Early Adulthood

Laryssa Mykyta, University of Pennsylvania

A vast body of literature addresses the effects of poverty on adolescent outcomes, yet few researchers have examined how economic disadvantage shapes the transition to adulthood in the U.S. If, as Furstenberg (2003; 2006) argues, family background creates divergent experiences for youth, then young adults from affluent, modest or limited means face different trajectories in the transition to adulthood. Understanding these differences and the factors that contribute to them has important implications for the reduction of inequality as well as for policies to improve children’s life chances. In this paper, I explore the relationship between family income and educational outcomes typically considered as markers in the transition to adulthood. Specifically, I address how family socioeconomic status (SES) and changes in economic position in childhood influence educational outcomes in early adulthood. I also explore the extent to which family, peer, school and neighborhood contexts mediate the effects of family SES on educational outcomes.

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Presented in Session 73: Transition to Adulthood