Parental Assistance, Negative Life Events, and Attainment During the Transition to Adulthood

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19 Scopus citations


Responding to the longer and more variable transition to adulthood, parents are stepping in to help their young adult children. Little is known, however, about the extent to which parental support promotes success, and whether parental support has different effects for young adult sons and daughters. Using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study, we find that parental “scaffolding” assistance for educational expenses predicts college graduation for both men and women. Negative life events experienced during the transition to adulthood are associated with lower earnings by the early 30s, although there is some variation by type of event. More frequent parental support during times of need does not predict long-term economic attainment for sons or daughters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-110
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Youth Development Study was supported by grants, “Work Experience and Mental Health: A Panel Study of Youth,” from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD44138) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH42843). The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of NICHD or NIMH. Youth Development Study data are available for public use at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Midwest Sociological Society.


  • Family
  • intergenerational relations
  • parent–adult child relations
  • social support
  • transition to adulthood
  • young adulthood


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