family structure change, parent–child relations, parental conflict, child behavioral problems, Korea


Research suggests that children who live with two biological married parents are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems than children who do not. While research on childhood outcomes often focuses on the nature of the family structure itself, recent studies have pointed to relationship quality between parents, and between parents and children, as important mechanisms through which family structure affects children. However, the independent influence of these two mechanisms—relationship quality between parents and between parents and children—on childhood outcomes has never, to our knowledge, been tested outside of a high-income western environment. Using the Korean Youth Panel Study (KYPS), we use cross-sectional and longitudinal GEE models to examine the influence of family structure, parent–child relationship quality, and parental conflict on internalizing and externalizing behavior problems among 2844 adolescents in South Korea, a high-income, non-western context with relatively little family structure instability. We found that family structure, parental conflict, and parent–child relationship quality were all significantly related to child well-being. Children living in family structures other than with their two married biological parents were more likely to report internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems. Further, parental conflict was negatively related to child well-being, while parent–child relationship quality was positively related to child well-being. These findings show that interpersonal relationships are important to children across family structures and should be included in studies examining how families impact child well-being. Our study also reinforces the importance of looking at family structures and processes in non-western contexts.

Original Publication Citation

Jarvis, Jonathan A., Ashley Larsen Gibby, Mikaela J. Dufur, and Shana L. Pribesh. 2020. “Family Structure Change and Behavioral Problems in South Korea.” Population Research and Policy Review 39(3).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Population Research and Policy Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor