Glen H. Elder's research while affiliated with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other places

Publications (150)

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Why should we care about the subjective experience of aging veterans? Evidence suggests that veterans’ recall (or reconstructions) of their military experiences may be more important than their actual experiences in predicting the health and well-being outcomes of their service. Coming to terms with wartime service—whether one was exposed to danger...
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The study of the life course and human development has evolved rapidly over the past quarter century, extending across substantive boundaries of the social, behavioral, and medical sciences. These advances have coincided with the spread of life course studies across diverse societies, as scholars draw on long-term longitudinal archives to examine t...
Article
This paper investigates the link between adolescent family structure and the likelihood of military enlistment in young adulthood, as compared to alternative post-high school activities. We use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and multinomial logistic regression analyses to compare the odds of military enlistment with...
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The influence of genetic factors on health and behavior is conditioned by social, cultural, institutional, and physical environments in which individuals live, work, and play. We encourage studies supporting multilevel integrative approaches to understanding these contributions to health, and describe the Add Health study as an exemplar. Add Health...
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The U.S. Armed Forces offer educational and training benefits as incentives for service. This study investigates the influence of status configurations on military enlistment and their link to greater educational opportunity. Three statuses (socioeconomic status of origin, cognitive ability and academic performance) have particular relevance for li...
Article
Using data on veterans from the longitudinal Harvard Study of Adult Development (N=241), we focused on subjective aspects of military service. We examined how veterans of World War II appraised specific dimensions of military service directly after the war and over 40 years later, as well as the role of military service in their life course. In add...
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This study investigates the relation of young adult identities (ages 18-22 years), reflecting subjective age and psychosocial maturity, to educational and career attainment in young adulthood (ages 25-29 years). Add Health data show that having an older subjective age alone does not curtail attainment; the critical issue is the level of psychosocia...
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Children from alternative households complete fewer years of schooling. Yet little is known about the implications of coresidence with grandparents for educational attainment. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 10,083), this study found that extended households with two biological parents were not detrimental...
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In the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a US longitudinal study of >15 000 young adults, we examined the extent to which socioeconomic status is linked to systolic blood pressure (SBP) and whether biobehavioral risk factors mediate the association. More than 62% of the participants had SBP >120 mm Hg and 12% had SBP >140 mm Hg. Mor...
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Developmental and life course studies of young adult identities have focused on 2 dimensions: subjective age and psychosocial maturity. This study examines the developmental synchrony of these 2 processes. In a longitudinal sample of young adults from Add Health (ages 18-22), a person-centered analysis of indicators of these dimensions identified 4...
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In this essay, we argue that viewing adolescence within the full life course will improve our understanding of both adolescence itself and the life course more generally. Such an approach makes explicit how adolescence is linked to developmental processes in the years both before and after adolescence in ways that are shaped by broader patterns of...
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Objectives. The present study investigates the role of a disadvantaged background, the lack of social connectedness, and behavioral problems in channeling young men to the opportunities of the all-volunteer military instead of to college or the labor market. Methods. Data from three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in t...
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To assess the long-term association of military combat stress with coronary heart disease (CHD) and ischemic stroke (IS). The association between exposure to military combat and the occurrence of CHD and IS was assessed among 5,347 men in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Outcomes were assessed an average of 36 years after entry...
Article
Studies of the cardiovascular consequences of combat stress are few and inconclusive. The association between combat exposure and subclinical atherosclerosis at Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study visits 1 (1987-1989) and 2 (1990-1992) was assessed among 5347 men from four U.S. communities. Measured an average of 36 years after militar...
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Despite important connections between religion and military action throughout world history, scholars have seldom explored the association between religiosity and military enlistment. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we used a person-oriented analysis to categorize young men according to patterns of...
Article
Using the life course cumulative advantage/disadvantage (CAD) perspective, this study examines the influence of early family SES on trajectories of depressive symptoms spanning from early adolescence to early adulthood, as well as variations in SES-based inequality in depressive symptoms trajectories over this period. This study looks at direct inf...
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Full-text available
Few studies have examined the impact that mentoring (i.e., developing a special relationship with a non-parental adult) has on educational achievement and attainment in the general population. In addition, prior research has yet to clarify the extent to which mentoring relationships reduce inequality by enabling disadvantaged youth to compensate fo...
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This study revisited the old research question of whether or not maternal employment would adversely affect children's development. We reframed the question by asking how a mother's temporal employment demands might be linked to child development. We used longitudinal data from a sample of 340 white, lower- to middle-class, dual-earner families liv...
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OBJECTIVE: This longitudinal study of American veterans investigated the mortality risks of five World War II military experiences (i.e., combat exposure) and their variation among veterans in the post-war years. METHODS: The male subjects (N=854) are members of the Stanford-Terman study, and 38 percent served in World War II. Cox models (proportio...
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Social context is increasingly recognized as essential for understanding complex human outcomes even among geneticists who focus on genetic influences. These outcomes typically involve multiple genes, multiple environmental factors, and the interactions between the two. In this paper, we propose a conceptual framework for gene–environment interacti...
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Full-text available
Despite considerable advances, significant gaps remain in our knowledge of how gender differences in depression develop over the life course. Applying mixed model growth curves to the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, this study investigates gendered variation in the causes and course of depressive symptom trajectories across early...
Article
This study investigated whether men's mental and physical health problems during the middle years may be attributed, in part, to the influence of varying levels of, and changes in, work control among members of a rural midwestern cohort. Specific study objectives were to examine (a) how trajectories of work control influence men's mental and physic...
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We review research published in the past 15 years that explores the relationship between military service and the life course, focusing on criminal careers, marital status, lifelong health, and socioeconomic attainment. Throughout the review, we note the extent to which studies find that veterans experienced different outcomes in different historic...
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Social inequality is well established in the mental health of race-ethnic groups, but little is known about this disparity from adolescence to young adulthood. This study examined differences in trajectories of depressive symptoms across 4 race-ethnic groups (Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) using 3 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of...
Article
This study explores the role of informal mentoring (i.e., developing an important relationship with a non-parental adult) in the transition to full time employment among young adults (age 23–28). Multivariate analysis of the Add Health data reveals that mentoring is positively related to the likelihood of full time employment, and the relationship...
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The term “agency” is quite slippery and is used differently depending on the epistemological roots and goals of scholars who employ it. Distressingly, the sociological literature on the concept rarely addresses relevant social psychological research. We take a social behaviorist approach to agency by suggesting that individual temporal orientations...
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The life course paradigm has replaced child-based, growth-oriented (“ontogenetic”) accounts of the person with models that emphasize the timing, social context, and organization of lives from birth to death. The chapter begins with a story of this intellectual change from the thematic precursors of life course studies to the present. The next secti...
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This study's objectives are to: investigate potential additive and multiplicative influences of rurality and race/ethnicity on chronic physical illness in a nationally representative sample of youth; and examine intra-Latino processes using a Latino sub-sample. Specifically, we examine how rurality and individual psychosocial processes reflected by...
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A unique characteristic of family physicians is that they seek to understand individual patients within the context of their families and larger social environments. Unfortunately, the intellectual development of family medicine is hampered by the reliance on epidemiologic, health service, and biomedical paradigms that are limited in their contextu...
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Agency is a core life course principle that represents individual influences within structured pathways. Discussions of agency are rarely related to empirical indicators. We offer an empirical model that joins together previous treatments of agency and adds a subjective sense of one's life chances (“optimism”). Using nationally representative data,...
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Research on multiracial individuals is often cross-sectional, obscuring the fluid nature of multiracial self-categorization across time. Pathways of racial self-identification are developed from a nationally representative sample of adolescents aged 14-18, measured again 5 years later. A significant proportion of multiracial adolescents change raci...
Article
Non-searchers – people who get their jobs without engaging in a job search – are often excluded from investigations of the role of personal relationships in job finding processes. This practice fails to capture the scope of informal job matching activity and underestimates the effectiveness of social capital. Moreover, studies typically obtain aver...
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The concept of ambivalence represents an interactional process in which individuals evaluate social relations as simultaneously positive and negative. This study investigates ambivalence in interpersonal relations through an empirical analysis of relationships between aging mothers and their adult children from their joint perspectives. Multilevel...
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This study investigates how divorce followed by single parenthood undermines the long-term physical health of rural mothers using four waves of survey data collected in Iowa, USA from 336 married and 80 divorced mothers during a 10-year period. Findings generally support the hypothesized pathways in that single-parenthood creates financial difficul...
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We hypothesize that divorce immediately increases psychological distress and has long-term negative consequences for the physical health of divorced people. In addition, we hypothesize that divorce indirectly causes long-term increases in distress through stressful midlife events. The hypotheses are tested using data from 416 rural Iowa women who w...
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Sexual satisfaction, marital quality, and marital instability have been studied over the life course of couples in many previous studies, but less in relation to each other. On the basis of the longitudinal data from 283 married couples, the authors used autoregressive models in this study to examine the causal sequences among these 3 constructs fo...
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Harris and Sim (2002) recently demonstrated the complexity of lived race by exploring patterns of racial self-identification. They raised important sociological questions about the role of context in racial self-identification, but offered an incomplete picture of ethnic fluidity by excluding Hispanics from their analyses. We address this limitatio...
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Stressful transitions in adolescence increase depressive symptoms, especially among girls. However, little is known about this risk as adolescents mature into young adulthood, especially about how parental support affects depression trajectories during this period. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this analysis investigat...
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The objective was to investigate whether increasing health heterogeneity during the middle years is attributed, at least in part, to the influence of varying levels of, and changes in, work control of the current midlife cohort. The study used four waves of data collected from 372 employed rural women and 320 employed men of the midlife cohort duri...
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The purpose of this study was to extend research on the connection between school size and student outcomes by examining how school size was related to interpersonal processes and whether the interpersonal effects of school size varied by race/ethnicity. Methods. We applied multilevel modeling techniques to a sample of 14,966 students in 84 schools...
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If problematic relationships with parents are an academic risk factor during adolescence, then nonparental sources of support (e.g., friends, siblings, and teachers) may be arenas of comfort that promote educational resilience in the face of such risk. In a series of structural models using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the...
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To explore the significance of social integration in the educational system, this study examined whether student-teacher relationships predicted two important student behavioral outcomes (academic achievement and disciplinary problems); whether these within-school intragenerational relationships were predicted by the structural, compositional, and...
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Studies of resilient youth have documented the helpful influence of religion in their lives. In the absence of positive influences among high-risk youth, religion and religious organizations in particular often serve to promote prosocial outcomes. This study, on the other hand, investigates whether religion and religious change are comparably effec...
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Religious communities are known to instill standards of achievement in their young people, but this observation may not apply as well to disadvantaged youth and their culture. In this study, we explore whether religious involvement enables youth in low-income neighborhoods to stay on track in school, rather than falling behind. Using data from two...
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The concept of ambivalence emphasizes the complexity of family relations and the potential for individuals to evaluate relationships as both positive and negative. Using multilevel models, we investigate ambivalence in adult children's relationships with their aging parents and in-laws (N= 1,599). We focus on factors predicting adult children's amb...
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Research on adolescent friendships has typically treated these social ties differently from friendships at other stages of life or from other relationships during adolescence. To draw parallels among these literatures, this study focuses on two largely neglected aspects of adolescent friendships: their role in positive adjustment and the way in whi...
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This study examines multiple dimensions of age identity, including how old people feel, how old people want to be, how old people hope to live to, and how old is old. We pay particular attention to the influence of the grandparent role and the timing of the transition to grandparenthood. We use data from a Midwestern sample of 666 elderly Americans...
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Family relationships do not occur in isolation but rather are embedded within greater systems of family ties. In recognition of the need to study families holistically, we explore how relations between grandparents and grandchildren are contingent upon a matrix of intergenerational relationships. Using data from the Iowa Youth and Families Project,...
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The present longitudinal study of 485 youth used structural equation models to investigate the ways in which a combination of social disadvantage in the family of origin and adolescent maladjustment increases risk for physical health difficulties during adulthood. The study examined a theoretical model that proposes that disruptions in the transiti...
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Investigated in this study were hypothesized reciprocal influences between stressful life events and adolescent maladjustment using data from a 6-year, prospective longitudinal study. Stressful life experiences, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing behaviors were assessed for a sample of adolescents (215 males, 236 females) living in the rural...
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Today, the life course perspective is perhaps the pre-eminent theoretical orientation in the study of lives, but this has not always been the case. The life histories and future trajectories of individuals and groups were largely neglected by early sociological research. In the pioneering study, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-1920),...
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My professional career in sociology began at the University of California-Berkeley during the early 1960s, a tumultuous time of social change and orientation to research problems in the study of lives. With a Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience in hand, I joined a remarkable faculty in Sociology, including Erving Goffinan and Herbert Blumer, Reinhard...
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This study examined the power of nonshared environment to differentiate the development of adolescent monozygotic twins, and the extent to which this power varied across social structural contexts (e.g., ethnicity, socioeconomic status). Estimation of difference score models on 289 same-sex monozygotic twin pairs from the National Longitudinal Stud...
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This study relates change and stability in work values to educational pathways in the transition to adulthood. Using panel data, we examine whether levels and rates of change in work values in the eight years after high school are linked to postsecondary education. Along some value dimensions, initial differences increased notably between those who...
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Using data from 666 Midwesterners, we reexamine the issue of age identity. We consider five dimensions of age identity—subjective age, others' view of one's age, desired age, desired longevity, and perceived old age. We find that people believe that others think they are the age they feel rather than their actual age. Findings also suggest that “ol...
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Grandparents are increasingly playing a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren, though surprisingly little is known about what actually happens within a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Researchers have often employed variable-centered approaches to predict levels of contact or quality in grandparent-grandchild relationships, mask...
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Full-text available
Using data from 666 Midwesterners, we reexamine the issue of age identity. We consider five dimensions of age identity—subjective age, others' view of one's age, desired age, desired longevity, and perceived old age. We find that people believe that others think they are the age they feel rather than their actual age. Findings also suggest that “ol...
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The purposes of this 9-year, prospective longitudinal study were (a) to investigate hypothesized reciprocal growth in negative emotions between parents and adolescents and (b) to examine the influence of this reciprocal process on the development of social relationships during early adulthood. The results showed that both parents' and adolescents'...
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Students' attachment to school and their academic engagement are important, yet understudied, aspects of the educational experience. In their study, the authors examined whether students of different racial-ethnic groups vary in attachment and engagement and whether properties of schools (e.g., racial-ethnic composition) influence these outcomes ov...
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Rural communities pose a challenge to status attainment models that explain children's educational attainment primarily in terms of the parents' education and professional status. Alongside the rural professional class are farmers of similar social status but with less education and other families that lack the status and resources of both professi...
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Full-text available
This study examined the role of both pubertal and social transitions in the emergence of gender differences in depressive symptoms during adolescence. This study generated the following findings: (a) Gender differences in depressive symptoms emerged during 8th grade and remained significant through 12th grade. (b) Pubertal status in 7th grade was r...
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The present prospective, longitudinal study of 193 young adults (85 men, 108 women, M = 20.7 years old) and their partners in ongoing romantic relationships in 1997 was initiated in 1989, when the 193 target youths were in the 7th grade. On the basis of the model for the development of early adult romantic relationships (DEARR; C. Bryant & R. D. Co...
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Using survival analysis for 367 married women and 340 married men, this article investigates (a) change in hazard rates and survival probabilities with age for the onset of hypertension and (b) the influences of stressful marital and parental relationships on the hazard rates and survival probabilities of hypertension. Hazard and survival plots sho...
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Parents shape: children's social choices through their social and economic actions. Parental social participation connects children to a civic culture and encourages involvement in civic groups. Parents' ties to farming in farm-dependent communities further enhance children's civic orientations by providing added opportunities and incentives for so...
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Social scientists agree that childhood antisocial behavior portends adolescent delinquency, but there is little agreement regarding the theoretical processes that account for this behavioral continuity. Latent growth curve modeling was used to test latent trait and social influence explanations for this association. The analyses used data collected...
Article
The present prospective, longitudinal study of 193 young adults (85 men, 108 women, M = 20.7 years old) and their partners in ongoing romantic relationships in 1997 was initiated in 1989, when the 193 target youths were in the 7th grade. On the basis of the model for the development of early adult romantic relationships (DEARR; C. Bryant & R. D. Co...
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This study examines the sources of matrilineal advantage in grandchild–grandparent relations using data from the Iowa Youth and Families Project. Results from fixed-effect models indicate that the observed matrilineal advantage in grandchild–grandparent ties arises from lineage differentials in the quality of relations between grandparents and the...
Conference Paper
This study links macro social change to emotional health through continuity and change in farming; Families were divided into four groups, depending on whether they were full-time farmers, part-time farmers, displaced farm families who had left farming during the 1980s, or nonfarm families. Using four waves of panel data, we estimated initial level...
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Youth involvement in extracurricular activities reflects both family socialization influences and civic development. Parents can promote such activity through examples set by personal involvement in the community and through reinforcement of their children's interests. Using data (N = 362) from the 9th and 10th grade waves of the Iowa Youth and Fam...
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This study explores how various aspects of a grandparent's religiousness are related to involvement with their grandchildren. The study ascertains whether religious grandparents are significantly more involved with their grandchildren than less religious grandparents by testing a series of bivariate and multivariate regression models. Multiple meas...
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The present longitudinal study of 330 adolescents used structural equation models to investigate whether (1) health-risk lifestyles exist among adults and adolescents, (2) parents' health-risk behaviors influence adolescents' health-risk behaviors, and (3) intergenerational transmission occurs by way of a health-risk lifestyle, by direct transmissi...
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Over 400 married couples participated in a 3-year prospective study of economic pressure and marital relations. The research (a) empirically evaluated the family stress model of economic stress influences on marital distress and (b) extended the model to include specific interactional characteristics of spouses hypothesized to protect against econo...
Book
One of the myths about families in inner-city neighborhoods is that they are characterized by poor parenting. Sociologist Frank Furstenberg and his colleagues explode this and other misconceptions about success, parenting, and socioeconomic advantage in Managing to Make It. This unique study—the first in the MacArthur Foundation Studies on Succes...
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Applying latent growth curve analysis to a sample of 350 adolescents, this study demonstrates that parents' education is linked to changes in adolescent self-reported physical health through the level of and changes in parental rejection. In addition, parents' education had a significant direct effect on subsequent changes in adolescents' self-repo...
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This study identifies grandparents who feel efficacious in their role and the consequences of such beliefs for actual involvement with an adolescent grandchild. The sample of 883 grandparents comes from two related studies of rural families, the Iowa Youth and Families Project and the Iowa Single Parent Project. Our research questions are answered...
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This study examines the association between educational attainment and grandparenting attitudes and behaviors. The sample of 884 grandparents comes from two related studies of rural families, the Iowa Youth and Families Project and the Iowa Single Parent Project. Rather than simply indicating greater or lesser involvement, education differentiates...
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Latent trait and life-course theories provide contrasting interpretations of the well-established finding that childhood antisocial behavior often precedes adolescent conduct problems and adult crime. Longitudinal data from 179 boys and their parents were used to test hypotheses derived from the two theoretical perspectives. The findings largely su...
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We examine how the occupation of farming structures the stress experiences of individuals through the timing and placement of actions. Further, we show how occupations have effects that spillover into family and friendship relationships. We find that farming affects both exposure and vulnerability to stressors. Specifically, farm men are more expos...
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In the present longitudinal study of 330 married men and 300 married women, we use a comprehensive structural equation model to investigate how occupation is linked to physical health. Results show that occupational quality influences health-risk behavior (measured by composite indices) for both men and women through a series of mediating variables...