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Good Things Come in 3's: Single-Parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment


  • Thomas DeLeire
  • Ariel Kalil


Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) of 1988, we find that teenagers living in non-intact families are on average less likely to graduate from high school and less likely to attend college. They also are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana and are more likely to initiate sexual activity at a younger age. However, not all non-intact families are alike. In particular, teenagers living with their single mother and with at least one of their grandparents in a multigenerational household have developmental outcomes that are at least as good and often better than outcomes of teenagers in intact families. These findings obtain controlling for a wide array of economic resources, parenting behavior, family stability, and school quality variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas DeLeire & Ariel Kalil, 2001. "Good Things Come in 3's: Single-Parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment," Working Papers 0106, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0106

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