The changing family context of early adolescence

Gretchen T. Cornwell, David J. Eggebeen, Laune L. Meschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Adolescents today in the United States make the transition to adulthood in an environment that is very different from that experienced in previous decades. The family is one environmental component that has changed significantly. In this article, census data were used to describe the demographic characteristics of families of children ages 10 through 14 years in 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990. The focus was on characteristics that have established implications for short- and long-term social and economic well-being, including family structure, mother's age at the time of the adolescent's birth, number of siblings in the home, and parental education, employment, and income. The analysis indicated that the period between 1940 and 1990 saw a marked increase in the proportion of adolescents living in demographically advantaged family contexts. Whether the characteristics translate into a more or less supportive environment for the child depends on their relevance for that child's development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-156
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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