Transitions in family structure and adolescent well-being

Adolescence. Winter 1997;32(128):897-911.


This article examines the effects of transitions in family structure on physical health, thoughts of suicide, mental health, relational well-being, and employment situation of adolescents from four family structures: stable intact families, conflict intact families, single-parent families, and stepfamilies. Data were used from the Utrecht Study of Adolescent Development (USAD), a study of developments in the life course of young people during the 1990s. Results are presented from over 2,500 respondents between 15 and 24 years of age. Their parents were also interviewed on a number of topics. Transition in family structure after marital problems, divorce, and remarriage does appear to have significant long-term effects on a number of adolescent well-being variables. Young people from single-parent families have the lowest scores on the different indicators; they are more likely to have relational problems and experience unemployment as compared with youngsters from stable intact families. Adolescents from conflict intact families and stepfamilies have moderate scores. These effects remain after controlling for family income, gender, age, and educational level.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Divorce / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Marital Status*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Single Parent / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological* / etiology
  • Suicide