Dropping Out of High School: The Effects of Living in Non-Traditional Families

Chunyan Song, Arizona State University
Mary H. Benin, Arizona State University

We use data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (88) to examine the interaction effects between family structure and immigration status in the prediction of dropping out of high school. We explore how these effects might be explained by variation within students' family capital and school engagement. Our study differs from previous studies by applying event history analysis with standard errors corrected for clustered sampling to provide an optimal analysis design for studying high school dropout behavior. Preliminary analysis reveals that risk of dropout varies for each of the four years. Adolescents from single-parent families drop out more often and sooner, but mainly because of differences in family capital. Children from stepfamilies are more likely to drop out of school. However, this only holds true for families headed by U.S.-born parents. Time-varying measures of family structure will be included in the final paper so that effects of changes in family structure on dropout will be examined.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Families, Parenting, Adolescents, and Children