Examining ‘race effects’ in transitions to early adulthood


Bruch, Sarah & K (2008). Examining 'race effects' in transitions to early adulthood. 2008 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center.


Although race remains an important social division, much of our knowledge concerning why and how this social division matters is limited. Much of social science research includes race as a predictor of outcomes in multivariate regression analyses and findings of a “racial effect” are common. However, this practice may provide an inadequate and possibly inaccurate portrait of how race matters. We test several theories of how race matters using path analysis, which allows us to decompose the total race effect and account for both direct and indirect effects of race, providing insight into the social processes that make race a salient predictor of outcomes. The primary emphasis will be on the estimation of the indirect effects of race, the pathways through which race comes to matter. We examine the role of family background and practices, child specific, school and neighborhood characteristics to predict several early adulthood outcomes, with specific attention to whether or not these factors act as mediators of the “race effect”. We focus on six outcomes in three domains: education (educational success defined as currently attending school or completed college, and receipt of a high school diploma); economic (economic hardship and receipt of means tested government assistance); and work related (currently working for pay, and currently idle, which is defined as not working, attending school, or in the active military). The Add Health data this paper utilizes are the In-Home Surveys from Waves I, II, and III: Contextual, School Administrator, General School, and In-School Survey data.




Transition to adulthood

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2008 Add Health Users Conference


Bruch, Sarah

Year Published



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center

City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID