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Eisenberg says college athletes much less likely than other students to seek help with mental health conditions

Mitchell finds children who lose fathers suffer at cellular level

Seefeldt says hard work alone won't allow poor to reach middle-class status in America

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Neal Krause wins GSA's Robert Kleemeier Award

U-M awarded $58 million to develop ideas for preventing and treating health problems

Bailey, Eisenberg , and Fomby promoted at PSC

Former PSC trainee Eric Chyn wins PAA's Dorothy S. Thomas Award for best paper

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Young graduate with arms around parents

How does family instability in childhood affect college attainment?

1/15/2014 feature story

Paula Fomby analyzes how a mother's cohabiting/marital behavior when her children are young influences the likelihood of their subsequent college attainment, controlling for household attributes, family processes, and adolescent behaviors and attitudes.

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Paula Fomby

Publication Information:

Fomby, Paula. 2013. "Family Instability and College Enrollment and Completion." Population Research and Policy Review, 32(4): 469-494.

This research uses data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health, N = 9,631) to consider whether and how family instability in early or later childhood affects college enrollment and completion of a Bachelor's degree by age 24. Explanatory factors include maternal selection into unstable unions, household resources available in adolescence, and adolescents' academic achievement, behavior, and attitudes in high school. The association of later family instability with college enrollment and completion is largely explained by household resources in adolescence. The association of early family instability with college enrollment is partially explained by each set of factors, and its association with college completion, given enrollment, is explained by pre-existing maternal characteristics. The results demonstrate that early family instability has enduring consequences for eventual status attainment and that the mechanisms that connect family instability to educational outcomes vary by the timing of family structure change.

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