Racial and Ethnic Differences in Experiencing Parents’ Marital Disruption During Late Adolescence


Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University—Mansfield, Mansfield, OH 44906 (sun.84@osu.edu).


Using panel data from 9,252 adolescents in the National Education Longitudinal Study, this study finds that among children who experience parents’ marital disruption during late adolescence, European, Asian, and African American adolescents exhibit wider and greater maladjustment both before and after the disruption than their Hispanic American counterparts. This finding lends general support to the hypothesis of prevalence of disadvantages, although it is less consistent with the hypothesis of prevalence of divorce. Moreover, whereas Asian American adolescents in predisrupted families are more vulnerable to a shortage of family social resources, their African American peers are affected more by a shortage of financial/human resources. Finally, postdisruption effects on non-Hispanic American adolescents are either completely or partially attributable to predisruption factors.