Childhood Family Structure History: Links to Relationship Turbulence and Early Union Formation in the Transition to Young Adulthood

Suzanne Ryan, Child Trends
Kerry Franzetta, Child Trends
Erin Schelar, Child Trends

This project examines the intergenerational link between childhood family structure history and relationship turbulence and early union formation during the transition to adulthood. The study contributes to the existing research base by taking a longitudinal, intergenerational approach to understand how parents’ union formation and dissolution behaviors ultimately affect their children’s own early union formation behaviors. The proposed study investigates: 1) which dimensions of family structure turbulence are most predictive of children’s later relationship patterns; 2) how childhood family structure turbulence influences young adults’ own relationship turbulence and early union formation; and 3) how the association between family turbulence and young adulthood relationship turbulence and union formation may differ by subgroups. The project uses data from three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which includes detailed information on the respondents’ parents’ relationship histories as well as relationships the respondents themselves formed in their adolescent and young adult years.

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Presented in Session 27: Events in Early Childhood and the Transition to Adulthood