Racial and Ethnic Differences in Consequences of Parental Divorce for American Adolescents

Yongmin Sun, Ohio State University
Yuanzhang Li, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Based on two waves of a nationally representative panel of American high school students, the current study examines whether well-being differences between adolescents from two-biological-parent and disrupted families vary in breadth and magnitude among four major racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Analyses indicate that compared with their Hispanic American counterparts, European, Asian, and African American adolescents consistently exhibit wider and larger well-being deficits both prior to and after parental divorce/separation. Moreover, whereas a shortage of social resources in pre-divorce families is primarily responsible for well-being problems among European and Asian American adolescents, the well-being problems among African Americans are largely attributable to disadvantages in financial and human resources. Differences in these pre-divorce factors are also largely responsible for adolescents' maladjustment after their parents' divorce in each non-Hispanic group. Overall, the findings highlight the importance of race and ethnicity in studying the consequences of parental divorce.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course