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Helping Others?: The Effects of Childhood Poverty and Family Instability on Prosocial Behavior

Citation

Lichter, Daniel T.; Shanahan, Michael J.; & Gardner, Erica L. (2002). Helping Others?: The Effects of Childhood Poverty and Family Instability on Prosocial Behavior. Youth and Society, 34(1), 89-119.

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between poverty and family instability during childhood on prosocial behavior—volunteerism—during late adolescence. The 1996 Young Adult supplements of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) are linked to mother and family records from the 1979-1996 main NLSY sample to create life history records spanning childhood and adolescence. Adolescents—especially males—from single-parent families are less likely than those growing up in married-couple households to be involved in volunteer work. Volunteerism is more strongly related to time spent in poverty among females than males. The results support a mediational model, in which negative effects of childhood social and economic disadvantages on later prosocial behavior occur indirectly through effects on socioemotional development and life experiences during adolescence. The results inform current concerns about putative declines in a civil society and the elevation of individualism over communalism among today's young people.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0044118x02034001004

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Youth and Society

Author(s)

Lichter, Daniel T.
Shanahan, Michael J.
Gardner, Erica L.

Year Published

2002

Volume Number

34

Issue Number

1

Pages

89-119

Reference ID

8426