Family Complexity and Children’s Behavior Problems Over Two U.S. Cohorts

Paula Fomby , University of Michigan
Ariane Ophir, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marcia J. Carlson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

We use data from two cohorts of children observed in the US Panel Study of Income Dynamics Child Development Supplement (1997-2007 and 2014) to investigate stability and change in the association between family complexity and externalizing behavior problems in childhood and adolescence. Our measure of family complexity incorporates maternal union status, partner relatedness, and sibling relatedness to and coresidence with focal children. This paper provides new information about change in the prevalence and distribution of family complexity and its association with externalizing behavior problems over nearly two decades net of a rich set of indicators of family socioeconomic position measured prospectively and antecedent to the focal child’s birth. Using longitudinal data across waves among children in the earlier cohort, we also assess whether changes in family complexity are linked with changes in behavioral problem scores among the same children as compared to children who remain in stable family arrangements.

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 Presented in Session 131. Family Complexity and Diversity