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Difficulties in the Transition to Adulthood: Using Propensity Scoring to Understand What Makes Foster Youth Vulnerable

Stephanie Cosner Berzin
Social Service Review
Vol. 82, No. 2 (June 2008), pp. 171-196
DOI: 10.1086/588417
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/588417
Page Count: 26
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Difficulties in the Transition to Adulthood: Using Propensity Scoring to Understand What Makes Foster Youth Vulnerable
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Abstract

Research indicates that foster youth approaching adulthood fare poorly on a number of economic and social outcomes. Little is known, however, about whether negative outcomes stem from foster care or risk factors common among youth who have foster care experience. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 and eight distinct matching schemes, this study compares outcomes of foster youth ( \documentclass{aastex} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{bm} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{pifont} \usepackage{stmaryrd} \usepackage{textcomp} \usepackage{portland,xspace} \usepackage{amsmath,amsxtra} \usepackage[OT2,OT1]{fontenc} \newcommand\cyr{ \renewcommand\rmdefault{wncyr} \renewcommand\sfdefault{wncyss} \renewcommand\encodingdefault{OT2} \normalfont \selectfont} \DeclareTextFontCommand{\textcyr}{\cyr} \pagestyle{empty} \DeclareMathSizes{10}{9}{7}{6} \begin{document} \landscape $n=136$ \end{document} ) to those of other youth. These schemes are based on propensity scoring and Mahalanobis matching. Results locate similar outcomes for foster youth and youth matched on preplacement characteristics. Foster youth have more problematic outcomes than do youth in the general sample that is not matched. The results suggest that risk factors, and not foster care itself, contribute to difficulties that occur in the transition to adulthood. These findings must be cautiously interpreted in light of study limitations.

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