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One-Parent Households and Achievement: Economic and Behavioral Explanations of a Small Effect

Lynn M. Mulkey, Robert L. Crain and Alexander J. C. Harrington
Sociology of Education
Vol. 65, No. 1 (Jan., 1992), pp. 48-65
DOI: 10.2307/2112692
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112692
Page Count: 18
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One-Parent Households and Achievement: Economic and Behavioral Explanations of a Small Effect
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Abstract

Results from analyses of High School and Beyond show that students from one-parent households have significantly lower grades and test scores than do those from two-parent households. Students from one-parent households have test scores that are about .30 standard deviations lower, but this finding seems to be explained by differences in race-ethnicity and the educational level of parents. Both mother absence and father absence reduce students' grades, by .17 and .27 standard deviations, respectively. Controls on race-ethnicity and parental education reduce the effect of father absence to .13 standard deviations and mother absence to .12. These effects cannot be explained by the depressed income of one-parent households. They can, however, be reduced to zero by controlling for the behavior of one-parent children, especially for school lateness/absences, not doing homework, not having contact with parents, and frequent dating.

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