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Family Instability and Locus of Control in Adolescence

Frauke Peter and Katharina Spiess

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2016, vol. 16, issue 3, 1439-1471

Abstract: Investigating the impact of family instability is important as more and more children experience different family changes in many industrialized countries. In this paper we examine the dynamics of family structure, looking at the potential effect of yearly maternal partnership transitions on adolescents’ locus of control. We aim at combining research on family instability with research on non-cognitive skill formation. We use rich and nationwide German data to identify the relationship between family instability and adolescent locus of control. Combining entropy balancing with a novel econometric method to assess potential bias from omitted variables, we find that experiencing maternal partnership transitions is negatively associated with adolescents’ belief in self-determination and that internal locus of control is reduced by about a fifth of a standard deviation among those affected, even after conditioning on a large number of covariates. This is particularly true if the transitions take place during “middle childhood.”

Keywords: family dynamics; locus of control; matching (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J10 J12 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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