Does Family Structure Matter in the Educational Attainment Process?

Duane Alwin, Pennsylvania State University
Ryan McCammon, University of Michigan
Rachel E. Durham, Pennsylvania State University

This paper focuses on the linkage between the experience of family structure in childhood and key educational outcomes linked to the educational attainment process. Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study we examine the effects of family structure on high school test scores, school success (high school rank and curriculum placement), and years of schooling completed. We address these issues using structural equation methods that correct for unreliability of measurement and that employ multiple-group modeling strategies, which lend themselves to detecting the effects of family intactness on these outcomes. Results from the WLS show that being from a non-intact family has significant detrimental effects on test scores and high school rank for both males and females, but similar effects on high school curriculum placement and years of schooling completed are remarkably absent, once socioeconomic background factors and their measurement unreliabilities are taken into account.

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Presented in Session 174: Familial Influences on Children's Educational Outcomes