A Test of the Economic Strain Model on Adolescents’ Prosocial Behaviors


economic strain, adolescent, prosocial behavior


The present study was designed to examine the links between economic strain, parental depression, parent – child connectedness, and adolescents’ prosocial behaviors. The sample consisted of 478 participants (M age at Time 1 5 11.29 years, 51% male) recruited from the community who were mostly of European American descent (69%) and from mostly middle to upper SES families. At Time 1 parents completed measures of their own income and economic stress, depression, and connectedness with their child. At Time 1 adolescents reported on connectedness with both their mother and father. At Time 2 (1 year later) adolescents reported on their own prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends, and family. Structural equation model tests showed that economic strain was related positively to parental depressive symptoms, which in turn predicted lower levels of parent – child connectedness, which in turn positively predicted adolescents’ prosocial behaviors. Discussion focuses on the family context of adolescents’ positive behavioral outcomes.

Original Publication Citation

Carlo, G., Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Day, R. D. (2011). A test of the economic strain model on adolescents’ prosocial behaviors. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 842-848.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Research on Adolescence




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor