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Impact of Adolescent Risk Behavior on Partner Relationships

NCJ Number
Advances in Life Course Research Volume: 28 Dated: June 2016
T. P. Thornberry; M. D. Krohn; M. B. Augustyn; M. Buchanan; S. J. Greenman
Date Published
June 2016
16 pages
Using a sample from the Rochester Youth Development Study, the current study examined how adolescent involvement in delinquency, drug use, and sexual behavior at an early age affects the likelihood and timing of both marriage and cohabitation.
It also examined the direct effects of dropping out of high school, teenage parenthood, and financial stress during emerging adulthood, as well as their potential role as mediators of the relationships between adolescent risk behaviors and partnering for both males and females. This study stemmed from prior literature that suggests involvement in adolescent risk behaviors will have short- and long-term consequences that disrupt the orderly flow of later development, including impacts on patterns of partner relationships. Overall, the current study did not find very strong support for a direct relationship between adolescent delinquency, drug use, or early sexual behavior and patterns of partner formation. In contrast, the more proximal relationships, indicated by precocious transitions to adulthood and financial instability, were more consistently related to partner formation. These findings support models of cumulative disadvantage; early adolescent problem behaviors are weakly related to partner formation, but appear to set in motion cascading consequences that influence the transition to adulthood and, in turn, these more proximal variables are more consistently related to partner formation. (Publisher abstract modified)