Early life course family structure and children’s socio-emotional development: a view from Australia

Perales, Francisco, O'Flaherty, Martin and Baxter, Janeen (2015) Early life course family structure and children’s socio-emotional development: a view from Australia. Child Indicators Research, 9 4: 1003-1028. doi:10.1007/s12187-015-9356-9

Author Perales, Francisco
O'Flaherty, Martin
Baxter, Janeen
Title Early life course family structure and children’s socio-emotional development: a view from Australia
Journal name Child Indicators Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1874-897X
Publication date 2015-12-15
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s12187-015-9356-9
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 9
Issue 4
Start page 1003
End page 1028
Total pages 26
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 3306 Health (social science)
3207 Social Psychology
3312 Sociology and Political Science
Abstract Children’s early life experiences are important not only for their contemporary wellbeing, but also for their subsequent life outcomes as adolescents and adults. Research from developed countries has demonstrated that children in one-parent and reconstituted families have worse socio-emotional and behavioural functioning than children from ‘normative’ or ‘intact’ families. We use recent Australian data from a nationally representative birth cohort study to examine the associations between family structure and children’s socio-emotional and behavioural outcomes. We contribute to the literature in two ways: by testing whether previously established relationships in the US and the UK apply in Australia, and by deploying an innovative life course methodological approach that pays attention to the accumulation, patterning and timing of exposures to different family types during childhood. As in other countries, children in Australia who spend time in one-parent or reconstituted families experience more socio-emotional and behavioural problems than other children. Such differences disappear when accounting for socio-economic capital and maternal mental health. This suggests that providing additional income and mental health support to parents in vulnerable families may contribute to mitigating children’s socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties in Australia.
Keyword Child wellbeing
Socio-emotional development
Family structure
Life course methods
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID CE140100027
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 0 times in Scopus Article
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 16 Dec 2015, 18:20:29 EST by Francisco Paco Perales on behalf of Institute for Social Science Research