Families, Neighborhoods, and Educational Attainment

Kia Sorensen, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Brian P. An, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Substantial literatures exist on both the impact of family structures on a variety of child outcomes, and on the impact of neighborhood contexts on child outcomes, but a comprehensive look at family structure, neighborhood effects, and educational attainment has received little attention. This paper bridges this gap in the research in two ways. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, we first estimate the effects of family structure on educational attainment by utilizing a sibling fixed-effects model. This approach allows us to account for unobserved shared characteristics within the family, thereby attenuating confounding influences (e.g. economic resources, parenting styles, and genetics) that affect educational attainment. Second, we estimate a model with interaction terms between family structures and neighborhood characteristics. Initial results show that children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to graduate from high school if they come from cohabiting households relative to similar children from intact families.

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Presented in Poster Session 1