Parental Absence and Student Academic Performance in Cross-National Perspective

Ran Liu , University of Pennsylvania
Andrea Alvarado-Urbina, University of Pennsylvania
Emily Hannum, University of Pennsylvania

Living arrangements with parents shape children’s experiences and the resources available to them, and parental absence greatly influences children’s welfare and educational outcomes. This study utilizes data from 59 countries to investigate the academic vulnerability of students to parental absence, and how this vulnerability varies according to individual- and national-level factors. Findings reveal substantial regional and national variation. Father absence is much more common than mother absence, but mother absence tends to have stronger correlation with children’s academic performance. The correlation between mother absence and student academic performance is stronger among male students, students with higher family SES and more ICT resource at home, and first-generation immigrant students. Results also indicate that national economic development and transformation of employment structure helps alleviate the negative correlation between parental absence and student academic performance, while urbanization and changes of immigration structure help address consequences of father absence but not mother absence.

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 Presented in Session 43. Consequences of Adversity in Childhood and Young Adulthood