The Relationship between Family Structure and Post-Secondary Educational Attainments

Zheng Wu, University of Victoria
Nadia Ouellet, University of Victoria
Christoph M. Schimmele, University of Victoria

This study employs longitudinal data (2000-2010) from a nationally representative sample to examine the relationship between family structure and university enrollment and completion. The results demonstrate that youth from intact families have a consistent advantage over those from fragile families, including cohabiting-parent households. These gaps in educational attainment decrease or attenuate to non-significant levels after controlling for variation in household socioeconomics, parental involvement, and student behavior. However, household socioeconomics and parental involvement account for a comparatively small portion of the gaps in educational attainment. Differences in the school engagement and educational aspirations of students represent the primary reason for the gaps between youth from intact and fragile families. Living in a fragile family has more detrimental effects for the educational careers of females than males.

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Presented in Session 184: Family Structure and Child Well-Being