A cross-national comparison of the linkages between family structure histories and early adolescent substance use

Stritzel, H., Green, M. and Crosnoe, R. (2022) A cross-national comparison of the linkages between family structure histories and early adolescent substance use. Social Science and Medicine, 315, 115540. (doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115540) (PMID:36410138)

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Family structure can influence adolescent health with cascading implications into adulthood. Life course theory emphasizes how this phenomenon is dynamic across time, contextualized in policy systems, and grounded in processes of selection and socialization. This study used data from the U.S. (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Child and Young Adults, n = 6,236) and U.K. (Millennium Cohort Study, n = 11,095) to examine associations between a single mother family structure between ages 0–14 and early adolescent substance use at age 14 across time and place, using inverse probability of treatment weighting to explore how results varied by selection into family structure. In both countries, single parenthood, regardless of its timing during childhood, consistently predicted adolescent substance use when samples were re-weighted to resemble the overall population. However, when samples were re-weighted so that their background characteristics resembled those of actual single parent families, there was little evidence that single parenting posed risks, suggesting that single parenting might matter less for adolescents who are likely to experience it (and vice versa). In addition, more generous welfare policy in the U.K. than in the U.S. did not appear to have ameliorated the observed role of single parenting in adolescent substance use. Findings supported a model of disadvantage saturation, where single parenting has little additional impact over the myriad other disadvantages that single parent families tend to experience, rather than a model of cumulative disadvantage, where single parenting compounds or adds to other disadvantages. Policy and interventions might more valuably focus on these other disadvantages than on family structure.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The authors acknowledge the support of grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1R03DA046046-01A1, PI: Robert Crosnoe), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD042849, PI: Debra Umberson; T32HD007081, PI: Mark Hayward), and the National Science Foundation (1519686; PIs: Elizabeth Gershoff and Robert Crosnoe) to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Green, Dr Michael
Creator Roles:
Green, M.Methodology, Software, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Stritzel, H., Green, M., and Crosnoe, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine
ISSN (Online):0277-9536
Published Online:15 November 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Social Science and Medicine 315:115540
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)UKHW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit