A Cross-National Comparison of Adolescent Risk Behavior in Post-Separation Families

Anja Steinbach , University of Duisburg-Essen
Sebastian Schnettler

We (1) examine whether more complex cross-household family structures are associated with more risk behavior in adolescence, (2) identify structural characteristics as potential drivers, and (3) joint physical custody and the frequency of complex family structures as potential moderators of this association. Drawing on representative data from 42 countries/regions from the HBSC study (2001/2006/2010) (N>581k), we provide detailed analyses on risk behavior even for very rare family constellations, thereby accounting for the complex cross-household structure in many post-separation families. Results: (1) Risk-taking increases with the complexity of family constellations: The incidence and intensity of risk-taking is lowest in two-parent-biological and highest in two-household families with stepparents in both. (2) The complexity of family types can be parsimoniously summarized by just five structural characteristics. (3) Parental care in joint physical custody after parental break-up reduces the association slightly. (4) The association decreases with a higher frequency of the respective family type.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions