Journal of Undergraduate Research


parent entrance, adolescent outcomes, longitudinal family structure


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




The effects that a parent entrance, such as the marriage of a single parent, has on child outcomes are currently not well documented. Since literature suggests that children living in single-parent families tend to have worse educational outcomes on average than children living in married-parent families, a logical hypothesis would be that a parent entrance would benefit children. Data from previous studies do not provide solid support for this hypothesis. Part of the reason for the variety of findings may be that there are opposing variables affecting children who experience this transition. An additional parent typically brings more economic resources to the family, which usually is associated with improved academic outcomes. However, experiencing a transition in the family may give children additional stress, negatively affecting their performance in school. In this study, I use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort of 1998 to examine the effect of parent entrance on adolescent educational outcomes and discern whether parent entrance helps or hurts children. Additionally, I seek to understand if there are differing effects if the entering parent is the biological parent of the child. I predict that children who are born to a single parent and experience a parent entrance through marriage will have improved reading and math test scores compared to children who are born to a single parent and experience no family structure transitions. I also predict that the children who experience a biological parent entrance will have higher reading and math test scores than children experiencing a non-biological parent entrance.

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