May 23, 2017

CSSRR Sociology–May 23, 2017

Filed under: S. Working Papers,Sociology — admin @ 3:50 pm

Center for Family and Demographic Research [Bowling Green State University] Working Paper: “Parental Incarceration and Well-Being in Adolescence And Young Adulthood: A Life Course Perspective on Social Learning,” by Peggy C. Giordano, Jennifer E. Copp, Wendy D. Manning, and Monica A. Longmore (WP-2017-05, May 2017, .pdf format, 43p.).


Children who have experienced parental incarceration face numerous additional disadvantages, but most studies of effects on child behavior and well-being treat these coexisting factors primarily as controls. This article focuses direct conceptual and empirical attention on a broader range of family dynamics, including parents’ antisocial behavior, that are potentially important to a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms underlying previously observed incarceration effects. We develop a life course perspective on social learning as a conceptual framework, and examine the role of parent/family antisociality and specific parenting practices as well as traditional factors such as economic hardship likely to vary with parental incarceration. Analyses rely on survey and qualitative data from a longitudinal study of the adolescent and young adult periods (Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study). Respondents whose parents’ backgrounds included incarceration faced greater odds of juvenile and adult arrest, failure to graduate high school, and higher levels of adult depressive symptoms. Nevertheless, after introduction of the broader set of family and economic indicators, parental incarceration was significant only as a predictor of low educational attainment. Analyses of in-depth interviews with youths whose parents had experienced parental incarceration also supported the need to consider the broader family context, and contributed to an understanding of underlying mechanisms. Findings suggest that to maximize the potential benefits of efforts to reduce current levels of incarceration, it will be important to develop policies/programs that simultaneously address problems that are often closely linked to the parent’s criminal justice contact (e.g., providing broader access to high quality drug treatment).


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