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An exploration of family-based pathways through which parentsÂ’ financial stress is associated with problem behaviour of adolescents


  • Koen Ponnet
  • Edwin Wouters
  • Tim Goedemé
  • Dimitri Mortelmans


During the past two decades, a large body of research focused on the family stress model that examined family-based pathways through which financial stress is associated with negative child outcome. These studies have shown that through elevated levels of parental and interparental distress, financial stress is associated with fewer positive parenting behaviours, which -in turn- are associated with child and adolescent externalizing problem behaviour. In this paper, we draw on the family stress model and applied its tenets to Belgian families. We expand previous studies on family stress processes by including data from both parents and a child, and explored pathways within (actor) and between (partner) parents. Data from 340 families were analyzed, with both parents rating their financial stress, depressive symptoms and marital conflicts, and parents and children rating positive parenting behaviours and childrenÂ’s externalizing problem behaviours. The results revealed that the association between financial stress and childrenÂ’s problem behaviour was mediated by depressive symptoms, marital conflicts, and positive parenting. We found that financial stress had direct and indirect effects on interparental conflicts. Furthermore, fathersÂ’ positive parenting was more affected by financial stress than that of mothers. Although actor effects were more prominent, we found also evidence for partner effects. Our results underscore the importance of including multiple family members in studies on family stress processes.

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  • Koen Ponnet & Edwin Wouters & Tim Goedemé & Dimitri Mortelmans, 2012. "An exploration of family-based pathways through which parentsÂ’ financial stress is associated with problem behaviour of adolescents," Working Papers 1212, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1212

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    Financial stress; parenting; adolescents' problem behaviour; family system;

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