McNair Scholars Research Journal


It is generally understood that healthy adolescent development is influenced by a variety of factors. Current research on the effects of family structure on adolescent development have largely grown from data collected in the late twentieth century showing that when children grew up in a two-parent household they experienced significant advantages. According to Amato (2005), these advantages included experiencing a higher standard of living, more effective parenting, more cooperative co-parenting, and closer emotional relationships with both parents. Those who grew up in two-parent households demonstrated superior academic performance (Amato et al., 2015; Amato 2005), suggesting that children from single-parent environments may have faced comparative disadvantage. Data show that the number of single-parent households increased from 9% in the 1960s to 28% by 2012 (Amato et al., 2015). This paper discusses findings in the late twentieth century on the effects of growing up in a single-parent household on adolescent development and education and the overall impact of family structure on children’s lives.