The Long-Term Economic Benefits of Natural Mentoring Relationships for Youth

Zach C. Timpe, Erika Lunkenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Natural mentors have been shown to help improve psychological and educational outcomes of youth, and may serve an important role for youth experiencing risk in the home. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we investigated the associations between natural mentors during youth and income during early adulthood, including how these relations were moderated by the absence of a father figure and race. We also estimated the lifetime economic benefits to having a natural mentor. The presence of a natural mentor alone did not have a significant impact on annual earnings during adulthood. However, youth without a father but who had a male mentor earned significantly more, on average, than those without a male mentor. These effects were more pronounced in a subsample of African American youth. The net present value of total lifetime benefits to having a male natural mentor was approximately $190,000 for all fatherless youth and $458,000 for African American fatherless youth. These results suggest that natural mentors play a crucial role in economic outcomes for youth, which may vary by sociodemographic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-24
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 27 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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