On the relationship between family structure and antisocial behavior: Parental cohabitation and blended households

Robert Apel, Catherine Kaukinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the last several decades, the American family has undergone considerable change, with less than half of all adolescents residing with two married biological parents. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, we construct an elaborate measure of family structure and find considerable heterogeneity in the risk of antisocial and delinquent behavior among groups of youth who reside in what are traditionally dichotomized as intact and nonintact families. In particular, we find that youth in "intact" families differ in important ways depending on whether the two biological parents are married or cohabiting and on whether they have children from a previous relationship. In addition, we find that youth who reside with a single biological parent who cohabits with a nonbiological partner exhibit an unusually high rate of antisocial behavior, especially if the custodial parent is the biological father.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-70
Number of pages36
JournalCriminology
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

Keywords

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Blended households
  • Cohabiting stepfamilies
  • Family structure
  • Intact cohabiting families

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