Parental Incarceration and the Transition to Adulthood

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The growing literature on the intergenerational consequences of incarceration generally neglects to consider how paternal and maternal incarceration structures offspring’s transition to adulthood, a fundamental life course stage thathas become increasingly unequal. In this article, the authors use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to explore the relationship between parental incarceration and both subjective (e.g., respondent feels older compared to others his or her age) and behavioral (e.g., respondent is a parent) indicators of adulthood transitions among respondents younger than age 24 (N =10,937). The results suggest that both paternal and maternal incarceration is positively associated with the number of subjective and behavioral adulthood transitions. The results also suggest that parental incarceration is associated with some individual indicators, especially subjectiveindicators, of adulthood. Taken together, these findings highlight that the high incarceration rate in the United States has transformative intergenerational consequences.

Turney, Kristin, and Yader R. Lanuza. “Parental Incarceration and the Transition to Adulthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family 79:1314–1330.