Linked Lives and Childhood Experience of Family Death on Educational Attainment

Sarah E. Patterson, Ashton M. Verdery, Jonathan Daw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Sociological theory and research suggest that experiencing family members’ deaths during childhood and adolescence is an important event subject to significant disparities. Previous research links immediate family members’ deaths to poor life outcomes, but it considers a limited set of family members and has not tested the association of family member death with educational attainment. In this study the authors estimate the rates and educational impacts of experiencing the deaths of immediate (siblings, parents) and extended (aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents) family members during childhood and adolescence for black and white Americans. The authors find that family death is associated with educational attainment, but the associations differ by family member type and gender and child’s race. Experiences of family death are unequally distributed by race and demonstrate complex associations with educational attainment. This research broadens life-course and family-systems theory by incorporating childhood family experiences of death on adult educational attainment and stratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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